Top ten 1980s pop song-themed purpose-led copywriting tips

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Thinking of writing copy for a purpose-led project? Relax, don’t do it. Not until you’ve read our Top Ten 1980s pop song-themed purpose-led copywriting tips.  

 1. “I’m crazy for you.”

And by “you”, if you’re a charity, I mean your supporter. Touch them once, and they’ll know it’s true.

Personalising your message makes your copy more direct. It can also connect your supporter intimately with the cause, skipping information about your organisation that may get in the way.


“It’s supporters like you that help us deliver programmes that alleviate childhood hunger.”


“You can help make sure children don’t go hungry.”

2. “Rhythm is going to get you.”

Tonight, yes. But also during the day. And not only when listening to Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.

Readers respond to rhythm. Whether it’s short, sharp points that pop. Or longer, languid passages that float along dreamily, painting evocative pictures that take you on an immersive journey into an unfamiliar world.

When we read, our inner voice searches for stresses, patterns and cadences for clues about how to respond. So when you write something, read it out loud to ensure it makes musical sense.  

3. “I wanna get physical.”

Let me hear your body copy talk.

In English, physical writing… ok, active writing… is usually better than passive. Using an active voice puts the subject – rather than the object – front and centre, creating clearer, shorter, more direct sentences.


“Priya required urgent treatment for her diabetes.”


“Treatment was urgently required by Priya for her diabetes.”

Most often in purpose-led communications, the affected person (Priya) is the most important part – and subject – of the message. So let’s not shunt her to the end of the sentence.

4. “I don’t want your freedom.”

Yeah, you promiscuous writers of fiction and poetry. I don’t want to play around. Part-time adherence to a charity’s brand guidelines just brings me down.  

Good brand guidelines aren’t overly restrictive. Instead, they provide a welcome focus to your choice of expression, idiom and style. And besides, a lot of work probably went into making this brand sound distinctive. Your client won’t thank you for undoing it all now. 

5. “We’re on the road to nowhere.”

 It really feels like it sometimes. So let’s not aggravate matters by taking our readers on meandering, self-indulgent journeys to who knows where.

The best purpose-led marketing copy has… er…  a purpose. It might be a direct call to action that asks for money, shares or visits. Or it could be an implied reason to act, like an opinion piece that gives you pause for thought.

When copy conveys a compelling purpose, there’s usually a carefully considered objective, structure, tone and audience doing the heavy lifting in the background. So it’s always good to think about these things before putting fingertips to keyboard.

6. “We can be together in electric dreams.”

 Were Georgio Moroder and Phil Oakey to update their 1984 smash hit for 2023, they might call it ‘Together in artificial intelligence dreams’. Ok, ok, obviously they wouldn’t call it that.

But after discovering that Kraftwerk’s ‘We are the Robots’ came out in 1978, this was the best 80s track I could think of for the AI top tip.

Charity writers – Chat GPT is your friend. It saves time, puts stuff on that intimidating plain white page, and gives you bad ideas from which you can create good ones. Just don’t let it write your copy for you.*

7. “I may be the mayor of simpleton, but I know one thing and that’s I love you.”

A little more obscure, but one for the XTC fans out there.

Ironically, this ode to the intellectually challenged was built around one of the most complicated pop song structures ever to make the charts. But, just like good copywriting, it celebrated all things simple.

Did you know that the average UK adult reads at the level of a typical 9-year-old? You may have got into writing for the love of all things sesquipedalian. But if you want your message to be understood by a wide audience, stick to plain English. 

8. “I get so emotional, baby.”

Every time I think of you. How did Whitney connect with her audiences in the 1980s? Emotionally. That’s how.  

We copywriters are in the business of engaging people and persuading them to do something. Usually, as many people as we possibly can. And always, people who are incredibly distracted by zillions of other marketing messages competing for their attention.

Dry, rational text just won’t cut it. Words that make you angry, joyful, hopeful, sad, surprised, frustrated, proud or unsettled? They will.

Ain’t it shocking what love can do?

9. “Modern love.”

Speaking of love… as with David Bowie’s perpetual grapple with love and religion in this 1983 banger, the language we use as writers is constantly evolving. But wouldn’t the world be a lovelier place if everyone wrote with a bit of modern love?

In 2023, I’m suggesting that writing with modern love means writing thoughtfully, inclusively and respectfully. Not using unhelpful stereotypes, not reinforcing unequal power dynamics, and not making assumptions about pronouns. Basically, not being racist, sexist, ableist, transphobic, homophobic, regionalist or classist.

And this way, we can all feel the power of love. Hang on, that’s another song…

10. “So true. Funny how it seems.”

They say truth is stranger than fiction. And herein lies the nub for purpose-led writing: people want to know the truth.

For charities, this often means telling vital, heartfelt and moving stories about the real-life people you support. For corporates, it can also be about coming clean about your social and environmental commitments. I.e. not greenwashing (or any other kind of washing).

Leave fantasy and unreliable narrators to writers of fiction. Purpose-led writing must always be authentic.

This is the sound of your soul.


*I asked ChatGPT to write this article for me. To give you a flavour of its response, it included “Livin’ on a Prayer” to convey the importance of never giving up. Not only is that a very woolly top tip, but why the heck didn’t it pick ‘Never gonna give you up’?

If you’d like us to write 80s-inspired copy for your purpose-led project, do drop us a line (we can do other decades too) 👇