The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

They Don’t Write Copy Like This Anymore …

… and they should, even if it’s about a terrible football team in an outer suburb.

Have a look at this …

How good is that?

No corporate, bland, fake-aspirational rubbish here … nope, just the sort of language a West Ham supporting, Dagenham-residing away-ground visiting fan would spout to their mates day in and day out.

Hell, it even talks about another brand [Persil], cheating the system, pub crawls, beer, alternative transport, violence and derogatory names for the are they come from. [Dagenham dustbin]

All this in a car ad. It’s amazing.

Given we live in an age where data is supposed to be able to tell us everything we need to know about a specific audience so we can create highly targeted communication just for them, this ad is more targeted than anything I’ve seen recently. And there’s two reasons for that …

The first is they acknowledge the role of the car is to transport people to-and-from locations. They don’t claim – as is the current fashion – that owning that car should be considered the pinnacle of their existence and achievements, it is simply a great way to go on journey’s to destinations where something they love takes place.


The second is because instead of speaking in current favoured style of ‘corporate faceless brand to generic, middle-of-the-road, mass market audience who all aspire to live the same generic, bland aspirational lifestyle as one another’ … this speaks in the voice of ‘travelling footie fan to travelling footie fan’.

Our industry likes to talk a lot about authenticity, but it seems we have forgotten what that actually means.

This ad works because it speaks in the voice of where the car was [then] made and who [then] made the car.


A proud, working class town where West Ham football club was the central pillar that fed the dreams, community and escape for the area … which is why even the endline, ‘spirit of the terraces’ is brilliant.

Of course it’s too ‘bloke’ focused and linking driving and drinking is never a smart thing to do – let alone the ‘service station fracas’ but when I – a Nottingham Forest supporting, West Ham hating bloke – see that ad, I feel something … imagine something … and that’s far more than I can say for most car advertising I’m exposed to these days.

And while the Ford Cortina was always designed to be a working class wagon, this ad makes it aspirational.

Not in terms of promising you a faceless, sophisticated life of beige bland … but because it owns who it is and is proud of it.

As I wrote a while back, when you own who you are, not only does it mean no one can own you, but you find you attract rather than have to continually chase.

Given the standard of current Ford ad, maybe they could do with going back to Dagenham.

29 Comments so far
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is it good copy or is it just a fuckload better than the bollocks pumped out by some prick who has never read a book?

Comment by andy@cynic

read it again. its good copy. best fucking thing west ham have had associated with their name in 2 decades.

Comment by andy@cynic

I was about to question your earlier comment. This is excellent copy. An excellent ad. Many modern marketing people would suggest it is too niche and would alienate audiences and they need scale. Blatant masculinity aside, which you explain in your excellent write up Robert, this is how you use copy to achieve real scale. Pulling more people into consideration because you’re specific towards who you are talking to and why it would really matter to them. Speaking their language. Extraordinary.

Comment by George

Well said George. And not just about Andy’s original dissing of the copy. It continually surprises me how many people still think the way to be successful is to get to as many people as you can in a way that doesn’t alienate any possible sale.

As Ferdinand Porsche said (I think) it’s better to mean everything to somebody than something to everybody. When you talk to the core in the language of the core and with the issues of the core, you don’t just connect to the most valuable audience in your category, you benefit as they attract the people around them who look up to them.

I don’t mean this in the way social media uses influencers. But in the way Nike does … talking athlete to athlete, being authentic in all they do so athletes love them which attracts the masses who want to be like them.

Whether that athlete is a superstar on the field or just a local kid who adores being an athlete.

Comment by Rob

why dont you little planner boys both fuck off. and campbell, are you really fucking mansplaining audience targeting. go and wash your mouth out with fucking acid. twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

Mansplaining for the win.

Comment by Bazza

when copy makes one hell of a fucking ugly motor look better. thats good fucking copy. yes ive changed my mind. fuck you all.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by George

That ad is amazing. It is even more powerful when you’ve just seen a Toyota ad on TV that literally could have been for any car and any person.

Comment by George

Yes. I have been looking at car ads more closely since I originally wrote this post and just laugh at how bad they all are. Especially when compared to this.

Comment by Rob

I don’t understand all of the language in this ad but I have definitely been swept up by it.

I wonder if this ad was trying to sell an aspirational lifestyle? Maybe seeing West Ham all over the country was seen as that and I’m being a soccer elitist.

I agree with your premise that aspiration is no longer just about price point. But that could also be because the internet has democratised knowledge of what an aspirational lifestyle is, removing the context of what aspiration is for different groups. I assume back when this ad ran, owning a car, even a Ford Cortina, represented an aspirational lifestyle, even if you were using it to follow West Ham.

Comment by Pete

Good point Pete. But as much as owning a car back then – especially in Dagenham – was probably seen as a status symbol, the premise of the ad, the nuance of the copy, the authenticity of being a West Ham football (not soccer, ha) fan and the nods towards pub crawls, fights and cheating the system means that even if it was representing an aspirational lifestyle shift for anyone who bought the car, it was not at the price of being better than those around you, but enabling more of them to benefit from your progress.

That alone is an amazing thing. Robin Hood of your community. But instead of stealing from the rich, you’re sharing your good fortune with the people around you that matter.

I know many people who still do that but have not seen a single ad that captures that authentically in absolute years. Aspiration in marketing is now communicated in terms of superiority when – as this ad shows and as I’ve written about and tried to convey in work for car brands like Jeep, Chrysler and Fiat – it really is about the authenticity in how you live.

This ad is aspirational for me.

Not because of price point. But because of what it celebrates and how well it does it.

Comment by Rob

I saw an advertisement for the Jaguar F-Type today. They said the car had been designed to be noticed.

Now I have nothing against Jaguar but the car doesn’t look any different to any other SUV on the road and the premise of the commercial is both egotistical and throwaway.

By comparison, the Ford Cortina advertisement is more interesting, more aspirational and has an actual idea in it. More than that, the idea is centred around the people they want to drive their car rather than some self congratulatory piece of nonsensical fluff.

A wonderful way to start my day. Thank you Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

Well there is now the possibility this was not a real ad.

Maybe it was just done for the workers of the factory … or maybe it was done by someone who fancied making their own version of a Ford Cortina ad.

I’ll be gutted if that is the case, because it’s brilliant … but on the bright side, it will also mean Ford’s ads haven’t fallen quite as far as this ad would have indicated they have.

Comment by Rob

fucking typical.

Comment by andy@cynic

Why are you still awake?

Comment by Rob

So you have just proved that a person on the street can write ads better than a trained professional. Well done on putting the final nail in the advertising coffin Rob.

Comment by Bazza


Comment by Rob

It’s very good and modern car ads could learn a lot from it but I can’t believe it’s genuine. Would advocating violence and drink driving have got passed the Advertising Assocation back then?

More of a give away is that it’s very middle class language both in vocabulary and rhythm.

And then looking closer there’s that jarring Cockney Rejects reference – googling reveals they were formed in 1978 while the Cortina MK II stopped being made in 1970. It’s a full page ad for a used car.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it came from something like a Private Eye annual.

Comment by John

Past not passed.

Comment by John

This would be far more impressive if I hadn’t already highlighted it isn’t genuine. Hahaha.

But yes, there is a lot modern car ads could learn from. Except for the ‘faking being real’ bit, obviously.

Comment by Rob

Yes I see that now. That would be far more impressive if it wasn’t just you hedging your bets some hours after writing the post.

Comment by John

John. You should work for MI6.

Comment by Lee Hill

Didn’t go to the right school.

Comment by John

The spelling error, font that is too new to have been on this ad and photoshopped scarf were other giveaways. Even with those it’s still a better car ad than anything I’ve seen in years.

Comment by DH

campbell. you fucking gullible twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

I am glad I didn’t fall for such an obvious fake. 😏

Comment by George

[…] wrote about an old car ad recently, but I recently saw another one that reinforced how far that category of advertising has fallen […]

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