Poetry and Copywriting: 5 Brands Who’ve Incorporated Poetry into their Strategy
The greatest brands know what it takes to make a true connection with their audience. Oftentimes, that connection is through poetry. As Maya Angelou said, “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” To show you the proof in the pudding, we’ve highlighted five brands that understand the power of poetry.
Coca Cola’s “The Wonder of Us” (2018) used original poetry from Becca Wadlinger.
Writer Becca Wadlinger is about as active in poetry as she is in the advertising scene. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Tin House, and Ploughshares, as well as in ads for Samsung, Nike, Airbnb, and Levi’s. For Coca Cola’s 2018 Super Bowl ad, the writer went for a heartfelt approach. “We wanted to do something inclusive and beautiful, but we didn’t want another manifesto or to steal words from somewhere else,” she explained on Medium. Wadlinger’s debut poetry collection Terror/Terrible/Terrific is forthcoming in 2020.
A&E’s “Look Closer: Across America” (2017) features National Poetry Slam Champ IN-Q.
Poet and songwriter IN-Q (short for “In Question”) has written songs for Selena Gomez, Mike Posner, and Foster the People and has been featured on A&E, ESPN, and HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. For A&E’s “Look Closer: Across America” campaign in 2017, IN-Q teamed up with A&E to create a documentary of personal stories and perspectives from people across the country.
Microsoft teamed up with Common for their “Empowering Innovators” (2018) campaign.
Rapper, writer, and actor Common has multiple Grammys and a Golden Globe to his name. Greatly influenced by Maya Angelou, Common’s work seeks to empower the underprivileged. In his 2018 collaboration with Microsoft, Common shares the power of AI in his poetic style. “Innovation doesn’t see the possibility of tomorrow / it creates tomorrow,” he says.
Levi’s “Go Forth” (2009) campaign uses a recording of Walt Whitman’s “America.”
The recording used for this 2009 Levi’s campaign is believed to be an original wax recording of Whitman himself reciting “Pioneers! O, Pioneers!” The ad met both praise and pushback; Slate contributor Seth Stevenson called it “the most arresting ad I’ve seen all year.” “Whitman is an involuntary spokes-celebrity here, and perhaps you deem this ad a desecration of all he stood for. I can’t say I blame you,” wrote Stevenson. “But… Levi’s is the rare American brand that was actually around when Whitman was alive. And there’s logic to this match between a quintessentially American poet and a quintessentially American product. Whitman’s verse allows Levi’s to evoke not only its proud history but a forward-looking present—the pioneering, American mindset that Whitman captured and that Levi’s hopes to embody.”
Nationwide Building Society’s “Voices Nationwide” (2017) campaign featured poet Hollie McNish.
In addition to four poetry collections, a memoir, and a studio album, award-winning English poet Hollie McNish has written and performed poems for a number of campaigns. In her spot for Voices Nationwide, she reads her poem “Little Things,” a deeply personal piece on the experience of motherhood.