How Frank Underwood Can Help You With Your Copy

You may well be wondering how House of Cards, the gripping Netflix TV drama full of political skullduggery, sex, power and corruption, can help you with your copy.

One word.


You see, the way any of us get anything we really want...heavily depends on how persuasive we can be.

Sure, money and beauty help...but what if you don’t have the swag or the drop dead gorgeous looks (which I am sure you do by the way...I think you are beautiful).

Well. There is only one sure way to get it.

Charm, convince and compel.

Which brings us nicely on to copywriting.

For anyone who doesn’t know otherwise; copywriting is persuasive writing. It is crafting together words that sell.

In the show the main protagonist Frank Underwood (or FU as he is fondly known) uses his powers of persuasion to the highest possible degree and in the darkest and most manipulative of ways.

He makes Machiavelli look like The Little Prince.

He is always selling himself, his ideas, and sometimes other people...most often down the murky Potomac River to complete career suicide.

Sure, his delivery and slow tantalizing southern drawl help, but more importantly, it is the words he uses.

Being persuasive is not a dirty word. It is not a paragon only exploited by the Frank and Claire Underwoods of the world. We all use it to some degree to get what we want or need.

When writing copy, being persuasive and compelling is key to people reading on and eventually buying something...and then acting like a religious zealot frothing at the mouth for whatever you've got to offer next.

Transforming a cold lead into a hot client is not called 'conversion' for nothing you know!

Back to the White House…

In one scene in a previous season's episode, Frank turns to the camera (called 'breaking the fourth wall' incidentally), a brilliant tactic also used in the original British series. This simple act expertly draws you the 'viewer' directly into the plot almost like an accomplice.

You do this with your copy naturally though, don't you?

I saw that eyebrow raise!

Anyhow, his words are simple but powerful. They paint a picture, often using emotional language which inevitably draws you in:

“What a martyr craves more than anything is a sword to fall on. So you sharpen the blade, hold it at just the right angle, and then 3, 2, 1...”

He then goes on to mercilessly take advantage of his audience who he has not only mesmerized like a cobra...but thoroughly understands.

Understanding what makes your audience tick, their fears, hopes and desires is crucial in crafting successful copy.

And so is trust.

And Frank knows this well.

You really can imagine Frank holding the blade steady for his hapless victim to push against.

The result is inevitable.

Each episode of House of Cards ends with a tantalizing cliffhanger which leaves you wanting more. Who hasn’t binged on 2, 3, 4 or even more episodes of a show we love in one sitting?

Of course, in the show the storytelling is powerful and the dialogue predominately drives the story, but I am not going to dwell on the storytelling techniques used, (even Kevin Spacey has a word to say on this) but I would like to draw your focus to how the language in the story lines are employed to the best effect.

There is rarely any shouting or raised voices from either Frank or Claire Underwood. The words spoken, especially by Claire, employ a soft even taciturn tone yet they still have the capacity to deliver a killer blow.

It reminds me of the adage 'speak softly but carry a large stick'. When applied to copywriting; be subtle but persuasive.

The Underwoods know that fear, greed and vanity are powerful motivators.

Your job as a copywriter is to also employ these motivators to best effect. Your loving audience won't see you coming, but will love you all the more for it.

Like the Underwoods, to master persuasion in your copy you need to employ emotional language, get your audience to trust you, back it up with a delectable promise (which in your case of course you will be able to deliver) get your readers to take action and wrap it all up in resounding 'proof' with a pretty little ribbon on the top.

I would highly recommend anyone who is interested in persuasive writing or who wants to sharpen their skills to study this show.

There really is some gold in them there hills!

I shall leave the final words to the master of persuasion himself, Frank, who in a memorable scene from one of the earlier seasons theatrically declares:

“There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted”

When it comes to copywriting (and politics) I might alter that to the following:

Persuade or be persuaded

If you would like to Master the Art of Persuasion and learn how to get what you want, when you want it, then grab your free copy of 'The 3 Pillars of Persuasion' by simply clicking here.

But don't let Frank know!

About the Author Eleanor Goold

Eleanor Goold is owner and founder of Kreativ Copywriting a forward thinking and friendly writing, copywriting and content creation service. She also has her own branded website where she provides business owners with smart ideas, copy tips, and blogs about the art of storytelling. She also runs The Copywriter Facebook Group and is the tutor of The Utterly Compelling Email Copywriter online course.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment:

Add Your Reply