Could Craigslist be a source of inspiration for advertising copywriters?
The writing on CL forms a genre all its own, with ads ranging from the purely straightforward to the ridiculous, outrageous, hilarious, desperate and self-indulgent. Say what you want about this online classifieds site, but many of the postings are nothing short of creative genius.
Take this ad for a used bike (or an excerpt of it anyway; the entire post stretches a lengthy 743 words):
…What makes this bike so much better than every other bike that has ever been pedaled? Glad you asked. It starts with the paint scheme. It looks like Iron Man if Iron Man were a bike. That’s bold, son. Curb appeal. It’s probably also why some piece of trash stole the front tire that originally came with this beauty. Why didn’t he steal the whole bike? Because he knew he wasn’t man enough. That’s ok, I replaced it with something that looks even more boss.
Hyperbolic? Certainly. Amusing? No question.
Other Craigslist ads lose the salesy hyperbole and go for the purely humorous, like this guy’s attempt to sell his used yoga mat for $1. Saying nothing about the mat itself, he replays the thoughts that went through his head as he attempted a hot yoga class—and decided to drop the practice of yoga… forever. We pick up mid-story…
(Note: The post has been edited for length and content, and can be found in its entirety at http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-3153/Hilarious-Yoga-Mat-for-Sale-Ad-on-Craigslist.html.)
It is now 140 degrees and 100% humidity. I am covered from head to toe in sweat. There is not a square millimeter on my body that is not slippery and sweaty. I am so slimy that I feel like a sea lion or a maybe sea eel. Not even a bear trap could hold me. The sweat is stinging my eyeballs and I can no longer see.
This room stinks of asparagus, cloves, tuna and tacos. There is no food in the room. I realize that this is an amalgamation of the body odors of 30 people in a 140 degree room for the last 55 minutes. Seriously, enough with the asparagus, ok?
150 degrees and cloudy. And hot. I can no longer move my limbs on my own. I have given up on attempting any of the commands [the instructor] is yelling out at us. I will lay sedentary until the aid unit arrives. I will buy this building and then have it destroyed. I lose consciousness.
I have a headache and…I can’t really breathe. All I can think about is holding a cup worth of hot sand in my mouth. I cannot remember what an ice cube is and cannot remember what snow looks like. I consider that my only escape might be a crab walk across 15 bodies and then out of the room. I am paralyzed, and may never walk again so the whole crab walk thing is pretty much out.
I cannot move at all and cannot reach my water. Is breathing voluntary or involuntary? If it’s voluntary, I am screwed. I stopped participating in the class 20 minutes ago. Hey, lady! I paid for this frickin class, ok?! You work for me! Stop yelling at everyone and just tell us a story or something. It’s like juice and cracker time, ok?
It is now 165 degrees and moisture is dripping from the ceiling. The towel that I am laying on is no longer providing any wicking or drying properties. It is actually placing additional sweat on me as I touch it. My towel reeks. I cannot identify the smell but no way can it be from me. Did someone spray some stank on my towel or something?
Torture session is over. I wish hateful things upon the instructor. She graciously allows us to stay and ‘cool down’ in the room. It is 175 degrees. Who cools down in 175 degrees? A Komodo Dragon?
Pretty funny, right? Of course, the only real reason for a Craigslist shopper to actually buy this yoga mat is because it’s being sold for $1, as opposed to the usual $10-plus for a new one. In other words, all he really needed was the title: “Yoga mat, $1.”
Nevertheless, as any good copywriter knows, a little bit of humor and hyperbole can go a long way. In fact, the next time I get an assignment for a furniture print ad, I think I’ll check out what Craigslist is saying first.