Sell me this pen. Okay, don’t

vodafone galaxy noteRemember the days when copywriting for print ads was an artform? Something that a creative team took pride in?

Let’s take a look at this Vodafone ad for the Samsung Galaxy Note3 which ran in the weekend papers.

Dr Mumbo can’t help but visualise the  team taking one look at the brief, realising they had to sell a product with a stylus and basically giving up. Or perhaps the brief came in five minutes before the ad needed to go to press so they didn’t have any time to get an idea or an insight.

Which is ironic, given that a favourite interview question for a sales candidate is “Sell me this pen…”

Still, if you’re a loser with an imaginary girlfriend, then this is totally the phone for you…

vodafone copy

Here’s some help, guys…



  1. Bill
    28 Oct 13
    10:34 am

  2. Awww be kind , we all know that the Voda marketing team are a shattered bunch right now not quite knowing which way to turn to climb out of the hole they have dug themselves . Kidults???? Pens???? Can’t wait to see what is next!

  3. Intentious
    28 Oct 13
    3:13 pm

  4. I don’t think anyone working at Vodapwn is over 24 years old or got more than a B+ in Year 12 English.

  5. Elouise
    28 Oct 13
    3:33 pm

  6. The term “imaginary girlfriend” and the word “rocks”… Really Vodafone? Is your target market 10 years and under?

  7. Bear
    28 Oct 13
    5:06 pm

  8. I found it funny and unexpected.

  9. booya
    29 Oct 13
    4:28 pm

  10. So you took the time out of your busy day to comment on copy for a RETAIL ad?
    At least it did the job of grabbing your attention. Theres no such thing as bad press they say. By the way say hi to David Thodey.

  11. mumbrella
    29 Oct 13
    4:45 pm

  12. Hi Booya,

    Yes. I did find the time. I write about advertising. I care about good advertising. I thought that Ogilvy was a better agency than this piece of work represents. But people tend to judge you by your best and worst pieces of work – that’s why you hope everyone has a minimum standard.

    You should read David Ogilvy’s fantastic book Ogilvy On Advertising some time. After reading his beautiful words about what makes for good copy for a print ad, it’s hard not to care.

    Just because it’s a retail ad, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to try.

    You obviously don’t agree. Given that you’re posting from an Ogilvy IP address, I really wish you cared a bit more.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  13. Encyclic!
    29 Oct 13
    4:57 pm

  14. Damn, I was looking at this ad whilst shopping with my actual girlfriend, clearly that rules me out of the target market. Sorry Samsung.

  15. booya
    29 Oct 13
    5:37 pm

  16. Hi Tim,

    Given that retail often more than not has little to no personality, and usually has a large price point with bullet points of benefits, You are correct I don’t agree with your critique of the ad.

    I think they injected personality into a retail message – and I commend them for that. Its not written for the Advertising industry but for the general public in everyday talk. I walk away after reading that ad knowing the benefit of the pen, but I walk away with a smile.

    “I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.” David Ogilvy.

  17. Anonymous
    30 Oct 13
    11:26 am

  18. No one looks smart writing a letter to their imaginary girlfriend, mainly because that is probably done on your own, in your bedroom, by bedside table light, because you’re 11 years old.

  19. Rebecca
    30 Oct 13
    12:14 pm

  20. If this is the state of copy in the Australian advertising industry then we’re all screwed.

  21. Bill
    1 Nov 13
    7:31 pm

  22. Booya , oh please – given I am not in the ad industry and am a member of the public and have family members on all carriers the feedback from the public (me) is that the ad stinks. You can guarantee this one dies super quick and you can also guarantee there was no uplift in sales because of it. It is a dumb ad.