Ad Breakdown: Araldite’s “It also sticks handles to teapots.”

Lewis Folkard

Lewis Folkard

Suffolk-based conversion copywriter.

Araldite's "It also sticks handles to teapots."

Ad breakdown number 11 already. Wow. And another really cool one this time – with a few different elements to consider. 

Here’s the ad:

Araldite's "It also sticks handles to teapots."

It was written by Rob Kitchen and art directed by Ian Potter during their time at FCO Univas Limited – for Ciba Geigy Limited. The product is Araldite, in case you can’t see it.

In 1983, this ad won D&AD’s Gold Award for a Poster and the D&AD Silver Award for the Most Outstanding Super Site Poster.

And you can probably see why… there’s a Ford Cortina stuck to a billboard. (!!) 

Okay, so what is the ad doing? Let’s zoom in and find out.

Extreme = Attention

Let’s start with the obvious. How extreme it is. 

Anything that disrupts the monotony of everyday life will get eyeballs. And something as bold as sticking a car to a billboard is naturally going to too. Plain and simple.

Can you see how the boldness is interesting too? They’re not using scary shock tactics to stand out – it’s genuinely intriguing. And that leaves a positive impression. 

(Want another bold but interesting example? Try this.

Demonstration = Believable

What’s next?

Well, the ad is a product demonstration. And there isn’t really anything more persuasive than seeing a product do what you say it’s going to. It’s literal proof your product works. 

AKA the ol’ “show, not tell”.

If you’ve been around the block a few times, you’ll be familiar with it And for good reason. 

In (copy)writing, ‘showing, not telling’ encourages the reader to think a little more so they paint a clearer picture in their mind. And with visuals, like in this ad, it proves the product. As we can see.

Words vs Visuals

There’s no denying this is an impactful concept. And that’s important (like it is with all advertising) because we process images much faster than we do words.

Dare I say it… but I think visuals have more “persuasive potential” than words. 

In fact, I think others do too.

Of course, that’s not me saying words have no impact – because they clearly do (I’d have no job otherwise!). But a strong visual can do a lot more in a smaller space (and time frame) than words can.

Another Example

To dramatise my point, let’s think of an alternate scenario. Let’s say Araldite wanted to tell us their adhesive is strong. What might they say? Off the top of my head…

  • Holds up to 960kg
  • Strong enough to hold a car

Hmm… they’re not the most engaging, are they? They’re also a damn sight harder to visualise.

So why not make it easier for your reader – and literally prove it? 

If you demonstrate in a dramatic – but concrete – way, you leave no room for doubt. 

Because now you’ve seen the ad, do you question Araldite’s ability to fix your teapot handle?

Like a Rubber Band

What I also like is how the visual pulls you one way, and the headline snaps you back. 

It’s straight-up drama vs (boring), real-world use.

And this “change of direction” is what makes the ad concept so stimulative and memorable.

(Allegedly, earlier campaigns had only focused on fixing teapots. I wonder, how many of those can you recall?…)

Of course, this approach isn’t new.

Many of the great print ads do something similar. Visual one way, headline the other. Because both the art and copy are aligned, they’re ultimately just repeating the message. And that’s very fun is it?

Remove the Headline

Another element – proving the strength of the idea – is to cover up the headline. If you can remove the headline (and the ad still works), you know you’re on to a winner.

Here, you can. So the headline’s role is to transfer the benefit of ‘great strength’ into Araldite’s everyday applications. Which it does.

A Story With Immediate and Long-Term Perks

The sticking-a-car-to-a-billboard concept isn’t just great for the short term. It’s great for the long term too. 

You see, because it stands out, the concept makes an immediate impression, likely driving sales for those in need of an adhesive now. 

But because it’s so memorable, it reaps the rewards of mental availability too. In other words, Araldite will likely spring to mind – when an adhesive is needed – before their competitors.

And what’s even better, from a creative perspective, is that because the concept is so unforgettable, you can build on it with future ads. You can play with existing knowledge and create something more intelligent – and, as a result, more impactful.

…and they did.

Because in 1984, they won the D&AD Silver Award for the Most Outstanding Super Site Poster again with the following…

Araldite's "The suspense continues."
Araldite's "The tension mounts."
Araldite's "How did we pull it off?"

(This time written by Robert Janowski and still art directed by Rob Kitchen)

The campaign works like a story. And climaxes with a playful double meaning.

Meaning 1: The reader’s curiosity about how they actually did it (unfortunately, using belts and straps to comply with safety).

Meaning 2: And how they physically removed the Cortina from the billboard when the Araldite is so strong (reinforcing its benefit).

Lovely job. A great ad/campaign.

Your take-home message? 

Don’t tell your benefit. Show it.

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Each email comes with insights I don’t share anywhere else. (For this breakdown, there was another example of “show, not tell”.)

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