Why don't the big boys use direct response copy?

I get a lot of mail from Fortune 500 companies and I visit big company websites periodically. On the mailing side, hats off to them for their persistence and their data mining. I receive targeted mail regularly. It's expensive to send all that mail plus it's harder to find the data than you'd think.

A website a big company has put together is, to me, something totally amazing. I've been working on the periphery of a big website launch for the last several months and it's bonkers. And I know people who put big websites together (or at least bits of them). Getting all the coding correct and making all the parts work together so you can apply for a loan, book a plane ticket, or whatever else, is a phenomenal achievement. Making it easy and simple is hard.

These companies have the print and they have the digital totally organized. So, when it comes to the copy, why is it dull, dry, boring, dull, unimaginative, colorless, lifeless, uninspiring, flat, bland, stale, lackluster, stodgy, and monochromatic?

As my friend Andrew Wood wrote in The Golf Marketing Bible...the copy wouldn't motivate a drunk to return to the bar for another beer.

Everyone in direct response knows that long form copy almost always beats the short form corporate 'piffle' when it comes to response. Surely the marketing EVPs and their associates have this data. And remember, direct response copy does not have to be obnoxious and it can complement the brand. Yet, I just received a mortgage application letter from Bank of America that was totally lifeless.

I can only think it's a compliance issue...but it's possible to make direct response copy compliant. It can be organized. Maybe you can tell me why big companies rarely use direct response copy...leave a comment...


I'm a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte NC USA. My website is here.