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Bob Gets Bent Out of Shape About Joint Flex Commercial

September 24th, 2008 by Bob Bly

A sin to be avoided in copy is using words that remind the prospect you are in actuality selling a product, not just educating or helping him out of the kindness of your heart.

One of the words on my forbidden list is “product.” Today I heard a radio spot for Joint Flex, an arthritis supplement, that repeats the word many times.

The announcer says: “Doctors love the product, patients love the product, you will love the product.”

Why call it “the product”? Why not be more specific and use the name?

My rewrite: “Doctors love Joint Flex, patients love Joint Flex, you will love Joint Flex.”

A yacht salesman refers to his top-of-the-line model as a “yacht” or “she.”

A car salesman refers to a sports car as a sports car, automobile, or “a beauty.”

You never hear a good salesperson say “our product” or “my product.”

Neither should a good copywriter.

“Product” instantly breaks the spell of enticing copy and says to the prospect, “Don’t forget, we want your money.”

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29 responses about “Bob Gets Bent Out of Shape About Joint Flex Commercial”

  1. Lou Wasser said:

    Absolutely.

    Repeating the word “product” sounds (and reads as) cumbersome. As you suggest, Bob, repeating the product name would be much more effective and probably the best solution.

    But even repeating the word “it” comes off better than the present way: “Doctors love it, patients love it, you will love it.”

  2. Jennifer said:

    I agree–nobody uses the word “product” except salespeople, and the last thing you want to do when you’re selling is sound like a salesperson.

  3. Jennifer said:

    Nobody uses the word “product” except salespeople. The last thing you want to sound like when you’re selling is a salesperson.

  4. Philip McLean said:

    Lou, I’d rather not use “it” in a radio spot. Some listener did not catch the product name the first time, so repeat it several times.

  5. Gerold Braun said:

    i am courious about the other words on your forbidden list, Bob.

  6. tom feedcopy said:

    Bob – great point. I heard something like from Zig Ziglar years ago, too. He said you should enthusiastically use the name of your ‘product’ because if you don’t . . .who else will?

  7. Bob Bly said:

    Gerold: Don’t say “cost” or “purchase.” Say “investment.” Don’t say “sales meeting.” Say “appointment” or “initial consultation.” Instead of “salesperson,” say “specialist.”

  8. Cynthia Maniglia said:

    “Product” is a word that clients use when they provide agencies or copywriters with creative input documents. “Product” is a word that the copywriter has to change – and that’s his or her job, to change in-house marketing speak to consumer-friendly words that persuade. Unfortunately, lazy copywriters can’t seem to find a word to replace “product” – and so the forbidden word slips into the copy and the client, who uses that word everyday and is not versed in good copywriting technique, approves in the final script. Imagine a client writing on the copy, “Please find a replacement for the word ‘product.’ We feel it is cold and generic sounding.” ! Yes, Bob – it’s a word to avoid at almost all costs. I venture a guess to say there may be a time when it could be appropriate to use that word when speaking about a manufactured good (certainly not a service, as service is actually a good word to use, I think). I challenge your readers to find that instance.

  9. Kelja said:

    I learned long ago, when someone called you a good ‘salesman’, you almost never made the sale.

  10. Ryan said:

    By the time I’ve heard the word “product” for the third time I’ve forgotten what the product is. As a side note, what about radio commercials that don’t repeat the vendors name and location? Sometimes they pique my interest about half way through and I’ve missed the most important information. Next time the commercial plays I’m more often than not distracted by something in traffic and I’ve missed it again – and these commercials are written by professionals?

  11. DMWrecks said:

    You’d be amazed, here in Silicon Valley, how many people forget this simple rule in their copy and call everything by the most unimaginative nouns.

    Also, Today, at my blog I was talking about Business Suicide via Direct marketing. The demise of the largest Chevy dealer in the U.S. today is a direct result of that.

    http://dmwrecks.blogspot.com/

  12. Lou Wasser said:

    Phil: You’re right of course. I was simply suggesting though that even the word “it” is better than the word “product” in this instance.

    Bob: In certain industries — most notably, the investment and financial industries — a euphemism for the word “salesman” or the disgustingly bland “sales representative” could pose a compliance issue.

  13. Gerold Braun said:

    Thank you for the words on your forbidden-list. This is very useful advise.

  14. John Platt said:

    This reminds me of the ads for Video Professor. “Try my product.” I kind of like the personal tone of the commercials, but the use of the word “product” is jarring.

  15. jason boucher said:

    joint flex is the best joint cream i already used. Hands down

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