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November 17, 2006

All hail the anonymous copywriter #2

We at AC have been remiss recently in recognizing great copy when we find it, and we just found some very tasty stuff from GSD&M in a new ad for BMW's cross-over offering the X3. It's a masterful example of how the "negative" really can sell. If anyone can reveal the copywriter of these words, we're happy to give credit where it is due. In the meantime, we extend a hearty and hail greeting to the author: G0266071lgreat job, you magnificent bastard (that last line is truly inspired). Click on the image to see the full ad. Or just enjoy this bit of the craft:

This is not an SUV.

SUVs are ofttimes lumbering behemoths.
They are neither fleet of foot nor ridged of brain.
They have the grace of a steamroller.

They are a heavyweight in the 12th round.
They are a promise unfulfilled.
Many perspire easily,
and they stumble like a punch-drunk has-been.

Insects bounce off their windshields, unharmed.
Many have the grip of an infant
and lack opposable thumbs.
They are soft and pudgy and easily winded.

SUVs eat the food off your plate when you're not looking.

This is not an SUV.

Update: As noted in the comments by our fine AC readers credits go to Michael Buss, writer/ACD, Mark Peters, AD and Mark Ray, CD.  Cheers.


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A well-crafted, prose-driven ad staking claim to coveted spread space normally reserved as a showroom for sleek lines and cushy leather-trimmed interiors. Good find. Sleek lines, indeed.

P.S. My SUV isn't pudgy, it just has a nice personality.

Wonderful. Just wonderful. I wish I wrote that.

The copywriter is Michael Buss. Art Directed by Mark Peters.

For those wondering about the identity of the mysterious anonymous copywriter #2, his name is Michael Buss. He's an ACD here at GSD&M and our resident poet. He's had a hand in Land Rover and other moments of advertising lyricism around here. The Art Director is Mark Peters and Creative Director is Mark Ray. Good folks. I'll let them know they're loved.

Thanks GSD&Mers.

And to all the responsible parties, we at AC offer our highest regards.

hey guys,

i was wondering if any of you could tell me what the typeface on the Economist posters is and if it has changed over the years ever since David Abbott started working on them.


Fantastic stuff. Strangely (and wonderfully) it made me think of the stuff I've only gotten to put in my student book and for pitches, the stuff you never get past the client. Kudos to BMW for being gutsy enough to let something truly inspired slip out.

Haven't you all heard the BMW commercials on the radio about snowflakes and their gripping system. It is also good. I smile everytime I hear it because about two years ago on an internet newsgroup I questioned the exact same issue, two snowflakes being alike.

Well, I guess some people think alike even if they don't look exactly alike.

ok, here goes. i'm going to be the dissenting opinion here. first of all, as a copywriter myself, i agree - great writing, great piece of prose. and congrats on using "punch-drunk" in an ad. BUT, there's no idea here. it doesn't spark any emotion that makes me want to get into this beemer and drive, baby, drive. it seems to me - and i have fallen victim to this too - the writer was flexing their creative prose muscle for no reason. it doesn't seem like there is an idea here.it doesn't connect with me. it falls in the same category of "this is not your father's oldsmobile." When i think of fantastic long copy, i think of "let's motor." after reading that, i'm all "fuck yeah, let's get into a mini and motor, baby!!!" they've hit me. i want to be a mini owner immediately. i want to be a part of the club. don't get me wrong here, i'm not criticising the writing, just the praise. everyone that commented here seemed to think that the writing was good, but no one really said anything about the idea. who's buying this bmw suv? what (other than price) is their soft spot? it doesn't seem clear.

we have chosen to be in this crazy business becuase we love creating ideas that spark emotion, connect with people, cause them to act. i think, other than creative ad folks, an audience won't read or really connect to this writing. so that's my two cents. crazyvirgo has spoken. tell me i'm wrong, i'd love to hear someone's opinion on why this is a good IDEA, not just good writing.

Oh, Crazy Virgo you so crazy!

You know, the post wasn't so much about the idea as it was celebrating a fine example of the craft, but since you ask...I'll throw down.

Does this ad break new ground? Ernie Schenk called to say that it probably didn't, but he still thought it was very well done.

As it stands, this ad sparks plenty of emotion in me. As a former and future BMW owner, this ad tells me just what I want to know:

"Yes, this is a cross-over SUVish vehicle, but we're BMW and there is nothing fat and American about this automobile. It is still a driving machine."

That sells me hard. It snows in Kansas City. I gave up my 325is because it didn't have room for the kids and, frankly, it was terrifying to drive in the snow (rear wheel drive). The X3 is in my consideration set. And, in fact, this ad made it more so (part of the reason I blogged about it). Are we different target demos? You bet.

The other thing to consider is the sorry state of SUV sales in the states. After years of dominance, SUV sales are officially in a death spin. While a BMW cross-over vehicle would naturally be differentiated from other SUV's this ad goes for the jugular. I like that, too. My two cents, anyway.

And Crazy Virgo, don't you ever stop challenging the crowd.

Crazy Virgo is right. And wrong. If you define an idea as cool, unexpected insight expressed by clever interplay between headline and visual, then of course the X3 ad doesn't fit into that particular hole. In which case, Crazy Virgo, you win! But what to do about, say, the legendary Nike women's campaign? And speaking of Nike, where do we put all the great golf campaigns from Jim Riswold? Were those ideas? I'd say they were.

Love it! And it really does speak to me, as I have a serious love/hate relationship with my own SUV. "SUVs eat the food off your plate when you're not looking"... that's just good stuff.

I do think this is a really nice ad, with magnificent copywriting. but i think it would be even greater if there was a twist in it, or, to be clearer, if they hadn't given away the twist before they built it up. if the copy didn't have the first line at the top, this is not an suv, but instead just talked about how bad suvs are, then saved that line for the bottom, it would've been even better. but the writing makes me a happy man on the inside.

Can't help wondering what the brief was like for this X3 job... Did they ask for a particularly creative execution or does the copywriter regularly pen little poems?

And how hard did the AEs have to fight to get the client to green-light it?

As the copywriter for most of BMW Asia, I can't imagine this copy, creative and interesting as it is, getting passed for any of the developing markets...

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