Northern Trust’s plain English ad

I like this plain English ad from Northern Trust, which I found in The Wall Street Journal on August 23, 2011, on p. B1.

What about you? What about this ad appeals to you?

10 replies
  1. Robyn Bradley
    Robyn Bradley says:

    I love how conversational the ad is: starting the body copy with “Your hard work has paid off” gives it an immediate friendly tone. And, as you know, I’m a big fan of starting sentences with “and” as this ad does in the next sentence. The message is clear, and the tone works for what the company is trying to convey. For some reason the word “needn’t” in the headline feels a little too formal, although I’m not sure if I have a better alternative. Maybe “shouldn’t”?

  2. Bennett Inkeles
    Bennett Inkeles says:

    There’s something about “needn’t” that’s quite appealing. Perhaps, because it’s the road less followed.

  3. David Lufkin
    David Lufkin says:

    Everytime a sentence starts with And, a comma dies. I think needen’t (doesn’t have too) and shouldn’t (should not) are two different things. Needn’t sounds stuffy to me, but then again, we’re writing for the upper class, no? In addition, I’m always against suggesting that complex financial planning is “simple” or should be. What do I need Northern Trust for then? Why do I need an advisor or asset manager? It is complicated; that’s why you need to hire it out and I suggest making sure a very competent lawyer looks it all over too. 🙂

  4. Susan Weiner, CFA
    Susan Weiner, CFA says:


    Oh dear, I wonder how many commas I’ve killed.

    Your reaction reminds me that many people respond differently to the same text.

    I think Northern Trust suggest that Northern Trust IS complicated, but their advisors can simplify it for you.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. David Lufkin
    David Lufkin says:

    Susan; Like a lot of readers, I focused on the tagline and only glanced at the text below. And I’ll admit that when creating marketing content, I am also guilty of preferring to be more clever than accurate. And I also sometimes begin sentences with unnecessary conjunctions because it’s become so common, I do it to appear hip. 🙂

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