Headlines That Told The Truth Magnificently

Examples of Advertising's Best Copywriting

Newcastle No Bollocks
No Bollocks. YouTube

It has been said time and time again – honesty is the best policy. So many advertisers insist on exaggeration, glossy cover-ups, and painting the product in the very best possible light. But people are more likely to trust you if you are blatantly honest with them. Here are six examples of “warts ‘n’ all” advertising that really cut through the clutter.

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When you have a tagline like “No Bollocks” (translation – no bullshit), you have to live up to that with some very honest ads.

Newcastle Brown Ale produced a series of these brutally honest ads, and this was one of the best. Other headlines included:

  • There Are Many Beers Out There, This Is One Of Them
  • The World’s Favorite Beer Named After Newcastle
  • A $400 Sign To Get You To Buy a $6 Beer
  • Pairs Well With Food And Also No Food

If The Welding Isn’t Strong Enough, The Car Will Fall On The Writer.

The image is striking; a car hangs suspended above a suited man laying on the floor. The late David Abbott, on of the greatest copywriters ever, wrote that headline for the Volvo 740. It came from research, and stories from the Volvo engineers, who stated that every weld on the car was strong enough to hold the entire weight of the car. At first, David Abbott wrote the ad to have the welder laying beneath it. He refused. So, he put his money where his mouth was, and lay under the car; a car that had been suspended like that for two days.

Now that is am impressive product demonstration.

What Idiot Changed The Chivas Regal Bottle?

Yes, Chivas Regal really did suggest that they, themselves, were idiots. IN fact, there were lengthy discussions about using the word at all, but being bold was always a part of the Chivas Regal strategy. The ad, long copy at its finest, shows the old green bottle, and the new clear bottle.

This was done at a time when America was switching from darker beverages, to “lighter” liquor, and so Chivas followed suit. But, instead of just coming out with a boastful ad, they played the self-deprecation card brilliantly. And by the end of the ad, the change had been fully explained.


Another car advertisement, this time for the VW Beetle. It was nothing short of revolutionary, and is as powerful an ad today (if not more so) than it was decades ago. The story is simple. The VW Beetle is meticulously well made, and even cars that look good to you or I are rejected by the inspectors at the plant. The image in the classic DDB ad is of one of those cars. It had the tiniest imperfections, but they were imperfections nonetheless, and VW said “no, this car isn’t going on sale.” That is honesty that convinces people of one thing – every VW Beetle available to buy must be perfect.

Our Maids Work Twice As Hard Since We Only Have One.

The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel in Amsterdam is not a hotel you stay at if you want frills. Or comfort. Or style. Or anything else. But, it’s really, really cheap. This has shone through in ads like “Now a bed in every room” and “Improve your immune system,” but the headline above is perhaps the most honest of them all.

You know, absolutely, that your hotel stay will not be pleasant. However, when you are paying so little, who cares right? Bravo, Hans Brinker.

Avis Is Only No.2 In Rent a Cars. So Why Go With Us?

“We try harder” is the first line of copy, beautifully answering the very bold and honest statement. At a time when every ad was boasting about something, DDB produced an ad that told the truth – Avis wasn’t the leading rent a car firm. That title belonged to Hertz, who is not mentioned in the ad (but everyone reading knew who Avis was referring to). The ad went on to say how much better you will be treated by Avis, because they really want that number one spot.