Before you write, remember The New York Chicken Bomb

Are you alone?

(Look around, quickly – check)

Coast clear?

Good – I want you to do something for me.

I want you to…(WAIT FOR IT!)……

Pretend to be a chicken.

Don’t look at me like that. I mean it!

I want you to unleash your inner thespian, and assume the guise of nature’s yummiest bird.

You doing that?

Good. So far.


You’re still a chicken. Only now, I want you to imagine…
…a bomb is about to drop on the city!

What do you do???

Let me guess. If (and it’s a MASSIVE “if”) you’re indulging my weird request, you’re currently flapping around your office, squawking hysterically – right?

Big mistake.


And not just because you’ll regret it when they check the CCTV.

No. It’s a big mistake because…well, I think you’ve missed the point here.

And you might be making the exact same gaff in your copy.

I’d best explain…

The Chicken Bomb is an exercise devised by Stella Adler, the legendary acting coach who rocked NYC in the 1940s. In one class, she had a roomful of students pretending to be chickens…ALL squawking like crazy at the thought of getting nuked.

Well – all except one.

Amid the frenzy, one student crept into a corner – and pretended to lay an egg.

Adler asked him why, and he said:

“I’m a chicken – what do I know about bombs?”


That student was Marlon Brando. Legend has it, he was the only one who ‘got’ what this was about: The gulf between “BE A CHICKEN” and “MIMIC A CHICKEN”.

Get it?

There’s the Brando way: enter someone’s headspace and share their POV. And there’s the other way: faking it, by imposing your own values.

Hopefully, you can see what this means when it comes to copy.

Yes, I know you’re not writing to chickens. Please don’t take it literally!
(“Dear James, I do not sell to chickens so I found this tip redundant”)

The point is, every prospect has their own unique perspective. They don’t know what you know. They don’t like what you like, or fear what you fear. And if you assume they do, your copy’ll fall on deaf ears.

So here’s a takeaway:

Next time you grab a pen or keyboard, and sit down to write your copy…start by feeling your way into the customer’s headspace. Spend time getting to know them: what they truly want, and why. And don’t write a single word till you can see the world through their eyes.

Your competitors won’t bother with this. Most copywriters don’t bother.

But you? Yeah, you should bother.

Do it.

(But first…erase the CCTV!)

Meet the Author

James Daniel

You might not know who James is...but you've probably read his copy. Through high street clients like Hidden Hearing, or big gun marketers like Jonathan Jay and Chris Cardell. His words are out there, pulling in new business every month. What else? Well his books, Do You Talk Like That at Home? and Direct Mail 101 will help you squeeze out more sales. Oh yeah - and his new book Before You JFDI will help you plan your next campaign. Grab a free copy here.

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