Ad Breakdown: MLHSBC’s “Invisible”

Lewis Folkard

Lewis Folkard

Suffolk-based conversion copywriter.

MLHSBC's "Invisible" print ad

So, I’m going to try a different style today. Usually, my ad breakdowns are quite copy-heavy. But this one is not. Not only does this keep my skills sharp, but it also keeps things interesting for you. Win, win.

Today’s ad has just three sentences – two long and one short.

It was written by Tony Barry and art directed by Damon Collins in 2002 during their time at Lowe.

Let’s take a look.

Art Direction

Okay, to be completely honest, the art confuses me. I’ve looked at this a lot (with long breaks in between!), and I’m still not completely sure what it “is”. But even so, there are some things I like – things that you can use in your advertising today.

Firstly, there’s a lot of white space. And in a busy medium, white space stands out. If everyone’s using it, then maybe don’t. But most of the time, they’re not. So, you’re good to go.

Secondly, the art itself is odd. And that helps it stands out more. Combined with the white space, the oddness catches your attention and invites you to investigate further.

And then thirdly, the “little” copy on the right. If the empty space and oddness catch your eye, this little copy reels you in. Literally.

It may even lead you to read it before the red copy. It didn’t for me, but I can see why it might. And that’s pretty clever.

Okay, so let’s read the copy and see what’s going on there.

Copy Analysis

Here it is, so you can actually read it.

As I said, there isn’t much.

The red copy first:

There’s a strong sense of mischievousness coming through here – the “invisible” and  “sneaked” being language examples. And with that, relatability. In fact, I think it’s the relatability that makes this section so enjoyable. How many times, as kids, did you pretend to be invisible with your friends? Fantasising about all the trouble you could cause – and not be caught. Probably too much…

Well, the ad is tapping into those emotions and channelling them into exclusive access – “a top-level meeting“. There’s a whirlpool of feelings created here: naughtiness, excitement, a sense of achievement, secrecy, humour, etc, etc. And when the notion of finance-folk-knowing-something-we-don’t already exists, it also makes you feel special. And I think that’s pretty persuasive. 

Next, the “little” copy.

*squints*

Now, this is a bit of a curveball. It sits, as we say in Suffolk, “on the huh“. Both bits of copy say similar things – and, honestly, I think you could do away with this. 

Just use the little red section, maybe a little tagline to clarify, and you’re good to go. But instead, this MOAS (mother of all sentences) is what we’ve got. It certainly seems more “financey” – almost like the “client” version of the copy. 

It does say this is a new concept – which is good, I guess. But it still feels a little clunky to me.

Again, there’s a “they know something I don’t” which the exclusivity sits on. In fact, this section suggests you’ll get a sneak peek into what they know so you can use it yourself. A clear benefit.

Also, have you noticed how each sentence starts with “It’s like…”? 

I think they do this for familiarity. Reading the same bit each time helps lay some foundations of trust – and like the nostalgic relatability, it’s also disarming. David Abbott’s famous ad for Chivas (not this one) did something similar – he started each sentence with “Because”. And what a belter of an ad it was. One of his best ever.

But there we are. That’s me done.

If you’d like to look at some earlier breakdowns, here’s what’s currently available:

And then, if you want them in your inbox, with insights I don’t share anywhere else (and in a slightly more email-friendly format), you can sign up here.

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