But Will it Work? – Your Creative Lives and Dies by its Functionality

Jul 6, 2023

Written by MACLYN Copywriter Thomas Hugo

Let me tell you about the worst ad I’ve ever written. It was bad, like really really bad.

The client? A senior living and memory care facility.

The ask? Create a Facebook video ad positioning the company as a source of love, compassion and stability for patients and their families.

Here’s (roughly) what I wrote…

“Watching your loved ones age is painful. It can be too much to bear, and can make you feel hopeless. But fear not, we’re here to help! [REDACTED] provides the BEST senior living and memory care facilities in [REDACTED]. Contact us today to learn more!”

Yup. Told you it was bad.

This happened during my first job out of college. I was brand new to the industry, with zero experience as a copywriter. My main objective was just “being the guy who writes ads.”

If my spelling and grammar were on point, the message sort of made sense and the whole thing could generally pass as an ad, I considered that to be “correct”. And as you can see, it showed in my work.

I was so caught up in the “what” that I didn’t think about the “how” or the “why”. Rookie mistake.

The ad never went live, thankfully. My then-creative director pulled me aside and explained to me what went wrong: the tone was painfully off, and the messaging was offensively misaligned. Then, he said something that I’ll never forget…

The ad just didn’t work.


In that moment, I realized that just because my work was “correct” (i.e. looked and sounded like an ad) didn’t mean it actually worked.

The functionality was all wrong, not to mention the form. If a prospective customer were to see that, there would’ve been a 0% chance of them wanting to learn more. They’d just be downright pissed off.

I learned my lesson.

However, even if you don’t make as awful a mistake as I did, your creative work can still be “wrong.” You could craft the prettiest, most original and most clever deliverable in the world. But if it’s not worth your end-users’ time and energy, then it was all for naught.

It needs to work for them. Period.

Ask yourself…

Will your creative get your audience’s attention? Can they understand and relate to the message? Do they trust you enough to take the next step? What is the next step? Is it visiting your website? Filling out a contact form? Making a purchase? How easy is it for them to get from point A to point B? Why are you asking me so many questions?

Yeah. It’s a lot to consider.

Trust me, though. The earlier in the creative process you can address these issues, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Your style will have purpose. Your flair will have function.

Your work will simply…work.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll avoid embarrassing yourself like I did.

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