Hype copy that sells and how to write it

October 7, 2010 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Copywriting Tips 

good vs. bad hype copyNobody likes hype copy. And it doesn’t sell. Right? Well, many copywriters think that. But it’s not necessarily true.

Actually, “hype” is in the eye of the beholder. And if done right, it works.

Today, Barry Densa debuts on Pro Copy Tips with his unique, wise-ass take on writing hypey copy. (You gotta love a guy who admits he’s a wise-ass.)


Discriminating consumers love hype copy.

Hypey copy is like a fine wine. It has great legs, a fine body and a rich nose.

Hype excites the emotions, stimulates the buying glands and ultimately converts better than dull, drab, “only the facts ma’am” marcom-style copy.

Marketers and consumers who bemoan the ugliness, the crassness, and the used-car-salesman look and feel of hypey copy are all uneducated and uninformed dolts.

All of the above, whether true or not, is a form of hype copy … of the unrepentant bad kind.

How to differentiate bad hype from good hype

Hype has many guises or nuances. Unfortunately, today, hype has become an indiscriminate catch-all-phrase for any type of copy that anyone objects to, for whatever reason.

Well, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is hype.

And so, for ease of understanding and with a bow to those who either adore or loathe hype, I will divide hype into two broad categories: hype that always converts and hype that rarely will.

We’ve all been exposed to copy that exclaims in absolutely superlative fashion the benefits of an advertised product.

For example, we’re constantly bombarded by hypey modifiers screaming best, biggest, fastest, easiest, greatest, amazing, unique, revolutionary, and so forth

And then there’s the army of entertaining and flamboyant similes and metaphors: “so powerful it’ll suck the chrome off a trailer hitch”, and “faster than a streaker running down-field at the Super Bowl.”

And, finally, the ever obligatory and tired: “your income will skyrocket” or “you’ll feel like a teenager again.”

Of course, these examples stand out as hype primarily because they’re easily recognized as less than believable, factual or authoritative. And are, therefore, quickly discounted and ignored by most consumers.

But yet, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with employing such words and phrases to extol the virtues of a product if indeed they’re accurate descriptions.

Where we run into problems though, and where hype gets a black eye, is when hype stands by itself – naked and exposed to ever-vigilant consumer skepticism.

How to turn bad hype into good hype

Let’s say you were to write within an ad, either in the headline, body copy or as a subhead, the following: All your wrinkles will miraculously disappear overnight!

Do you think such a claim will be believed or, more importantly, that the ad containing it will convert?

Personally, I doubt it.

Even if the remainder of the ad were written impeccably – and by impeccably, I mean, you immediately provide undeniable, authoritative proof, confirming that wrinkles will indeed disappear overnight – that claim will still be the rusty nail that blows out the ad’s tires.

Of course it might gain your ad a moment’s fleeting attention, but the ad itself won’t convert, because the remainder of the ad, much less its call to action, probably won’t be read.

But now you protest and say: I provided proof – it’s true, absolutely true – so why wouldn’t it be believed – why wouldn’t it convert?

Well, proof and credibility are, of course, essential to any claim in any ad, without it you clearly have written hype of the bad kind.

But even with proof, if the proof is not “placed” wisely, it’ll be ignored as will be the ad.

The consumer is not an idiot – she’s your wife!

That’s a quote from David Ogilvy.

Consumers learn quickly – they have to. By one account, the average American is deluged with over 5,000 advertisements in one form or another every single day. And it’s probably fair to say most of these ads are poorly presented, either in concept, design or execution.

Hence, the unavoidable consequence: skepticism and disbelief abounds in the marketplace.

So … while in the past, making a claim and immediately following it up with proof may have been a wise, prudent and necessary tack to take, times have now changed.

And copywriters must adapt.

No longer do you have the luxury, or more to the point, the time to prove your claim once you make it.

Avoid the ad-killing claim

While the following is not an inviolate rule, it’s certainly worth testing: Before making any concise and memorable claim to unparalleled excellence —prove it first.

Assemble and present your credentialing elements, your evidence – your entire body of incontrovertible proof – in clear and linear fashion.

Allow your proof to lay the groundwork for what is to come. Create strong and overwhelming direction and momentum.

In other words …

Ambush the reader

When you finally do present your hype – your claim to have the biggest, baddest, best product on the planet, it won’t be mistaken for or accused of being hype (of the bad kind), but rather it will be seen as a descriptive and accurate statement of the obvious and the proven (hype of the good kind).

If executed skillfully, your hype will also have the added benefit of becoming sustainable and actionable.

And that’s the best hype of all, when your reader agrees with, acts upon, and even advocates on behalf of what otherwise would have been a wild and unbelievable claim.

Barry A. Densa is a freelance marketing and sales copywriter. Read more of his irreverent musings and download a FREE copy of his new eBook, containing 21 of his most outrageous rants, when you visit his blog, Marketing Wit & Wisdom.

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Smart Comments

3 Comments on Hype copy that sells and how to write it

    [...] (Here’s a different take on hype.) [...]

  1. Codrut Turcanu on Apr 5th, 2011 3:14 am
  2. hi Barry, thank you for sharing your wisdom with us :)

    I learned long ago that consumers are not looking for the best products or solutions, but for the ideal product or solution which helps quick-fix their problems or achieve their goals.

    Now, that’s a BIG difference. If vendors, companies and copywriter would understand this concept and focus on consumers first, and match their needs/wants/problems with their stuff, then they’ll be adding “millions” into their business.

    [...] writing this post, I came across the following title: Hype Copy that Sells and How to Write it, by ProCopyTips I read the section on: How to turn bad hype into good hype, I’m going to summarize what [...]