This is a great time of year for those who enjoy studying marketing and copywriting – every day, the mailbox is full of catalogs, each with their own style. One long time favorite is Hammacher Schlemmer, home of products like The Best Nose Hair Trimmer.
I enjoy flipping through these catalogs looking for great copywriting. Hammacher Schlemmer rates a solid B+ in this area. Their copy fails to transport you to another state of being (think Peterson’s…), but it always goes well beyond a recitation of product features.
One of the interesting things I noticed in their Christmas catalog was that virtually all product names were preceded by “The”. In some cases, this makes perfect sense, like “The New York Public Library Reading Lamp.” Surely there can’t be more than one of those, right? But the policy extends to rather generic-sounding items like “The Heated Pet Bed.” Adding the “The” creates an air of exclusivity to even the most prosaic product. Would you rather buy a “Sleep Sound Generator” or “THE Sleep Sound Generator”? Doesn’t the latter sound more exclusive and unique, as if a similar product sold by others is probably inferior?
In flipping through the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog, I found only a few products lacking the “The” prefix. Mostly, these were products where adding “The” would have sounded odd, like “Genuine Poker Chips”. Oddly, there was no “The” before “World’s Finest Field of View Binoculars.” Will the “The” specialist at Hammacher Schlemmer get a dressing down for missing this enhancement opportunity? Certainly, “The World’s Finest Field of View Binoculars” would have been great copy…
Kidding aside, this catalog shows the power of one word. Could your copy be improved by adding a definite article? Or should I say, The Definite Article? 🙂