Eurovision, Polar Bears and the Power of Formula

“I Wanna Be a Polar Bear!”

The best Eurovision song ever was a winner for Israel in 1978…turning 40 this year.

Okay. It turns out, the song is actually called “A-Ba-Ni-Bi”. As in “A-Ba-Ni-Bi O-Bo-He-Bev”. But when you’re a wee dot, it sounds like “I Wanna Be a Polar Bear”.

See for yourself:

Anyway. That’s my way of saying, “Eurovision tomorrow. Yay!”

I know, as a hetero male I should hate it. The cheese, the spangles…the Latvian singers who still dress like Disco Stu. It’s naff to the max.

And yet, I love it. I’ll be glued to the telly all night, with a big bag of those jelly pigs from M&S.

Why do I love it?

Well, it always delivers. Because year on year, it follows a winning formula.

I can tell you the winner now. It’ll be a power ballad, sung by a cross-dresser in traditional folk dress, who falls to his/her knees for the big key change. Cue wind machine. Douze points.

Predictable? Yes. Cheesy? Defo. But it works.

A good formula rocks.

In copy too. I reckon every sales message I’ve ever written has followed one of three patterns:

…Attention-Interest-Desire-Action: works for any product, as it maps the stages of motivation.

…Problem-Agitate-Resolve: works for “grudge purchases” like insurance, and any product that cures (physical or emotional) pain.

…Picture-Promise-Product-Proof-Purchase: works for aspirational products. If you’re selling a £10m yacht, this is the one.

It works. So don’t knock formula.

Critics say it kills creativity: “writers should be free to experiment, and let their imagination wander”. And I say – “creative” is worthless if it doesn’t put bacon in the fridge.

REALITY CHECK: it’s not about free-form creativity. It’s about using proven methods in new, exciting ways.

No-one has to go out and reinvent the wheel.

Eurovision peeps and top copywriters have that rule in common.

So if your sales letter or landing page or wotnot is flagging, go back to the formula…

…And write yourself a Polar Bear type zinger.

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 next book Before You JFDI will help you plan your next campaign. Get on the list for a free advance copy here.

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