Straightforward copywriting from the Metal Man

It's easy to think of copywriting as a deeply creative job, that only the purest savants can do. Like the kind of thing you see on Mad Men, with artsy concepts that speak to some deep need in the human soul. 

There is a place for this kind of thing, but a lot of copywriting is much more straightforward. The copywriting I admire the most is the work that conveys exactly what you need to know, as quickly as possible, with a clear sense of priority. 

Here's an example I saw the other day. This is a scrap metal yard in an industrial area out in West Auckland. These two signs are right next to a major cycleway and highway:


I couldn't capture it all in one frame, so to clarify, the giant yellow and red sign says

The bit that really piqued my interest was up the top - "pays top $." This is as clear as could be, particularly in the context of the Metalman sign. Anyone passing by on a bike or in a car instantly knows what this place does and that they can benefit from it by bringing in their scrap metal. 

Then, on top of that, the metal man has also given some thought it where his writing is, too. It may not be clear from the picture, but that "pays top $" is written on the hydraulic arm of a yellow machine. I think it's a digger with a grabber attachment instead of a shovel. 

This is brilliant, because they're frequently running that machine right by the "metalman" sign. The "pays top $" naturally goes above the main sign as they go about their business.  This means that he can have a secondary message ("we pay top $") augmenting the main information he wants us to know (his business name, and the URL), without giving up any valuable real estate on the main sign. If the metal man tried to cram all of that onto the main sign, it would be hard to take it all in while you're zipping by at 100km/hr. 

So if you're driving or biking by, it takes about a tenth of a second to learn that:

  • He's the metal man
  • How to get in touch with the metal man
  • He pays top dollar

In other words, you learn:

  • Who this business is 
  • How you can contact this business
  • Why you should contact this business. 

He's also given these messages a really clear sense of priority. If you drive by, and he's not using his grabber machine at that time, then no matter - you still get the "who" and the "how" portions of his message. 

It's not hard to extrapolate from that information that any metal you have, you can bring to the metal man, and he'll pay you for it. No frills, no fuss - easy, simple copy that does its job in a heartbeat. That's good stuff if you ask me.