Last time we looked at the figure of speech chiasmus and how it might be used as a tool for generating memorable or effective copy. Here’s the short version: Chiasmus is the reversal of words in successive, balanced clauses or phrases. We came up with a keeper out of that exercise (“Finding perfect words and perfecting words found”).
Today we look at another figure of speech — antithesis, which is the juxtaposition of opposite concepts in successive, balanced clauses or phrases. As with chiasmus, clauses and phrases are generally parallel, but not always.
It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues. — Abraham Lincoln
The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason. — TS Eliot
It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken. — Frank Perdue.
Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven. — Pillsbury Doughboy
What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public. — Vilhjalmur Stefansson
In the spirit of that last example comes my first:
A Poet thrills the Soul, but a Copywriter sells one.
Maybe the simplest way to use this figure is to begin with a statement, then turn it on its head:
You can pay more for copywriting, but you won’t get more.
Continuing the value pitch:
First class copywriting on an economy ticket.
You could use that one over and over. Just swap out the industry.
Top shelf copywriting for the price of well.
Ferrari copywriting that won’t cost you a Corolla.
But maybe I don’t want to compete on price. Maybe I want to compete on erudition.
Erudite copy by a writer who knows what’s wrong with this pitch. Instinctively.
I’m not sure what erudition* is, either, but it sounds good.
*Looked it up. My instinct was right!