Copywriting no-nos – Shooting yourself in the marketing foot!

| March 1, 2011

One of the most valuable marketing skills is knowing when to delegate. Here are a few recent examples where taking expert advice would have made a real difference.

When delegating makes marketing sense

First, a leaflet dropped through our door the other day selling body reshapers for men and women, which encouraged us to call or email for a FREE NON-COMMITTAL APPOINTMENT.

Hm. I can see what they’re getting at. They mean either no obligation or no committment. But they definitely don’t mean non-committal, which translates as being unwilling or unable to commit yourself. A copywriter would have never let it happen.

Second, when Vodaphone UK went down for a short time yesterday my browser delivered this charming error message:

The service you requested is restricted and not available to your browser. The restriction can be based on your IP-address, hostname, browser software, time-of-day or other variables. Most likely you requested a service that was made available to a restricted subnet.

Which is spectacularly unhelpful as well as gobbledegook. A proper copywriter would have expressed the information in plain English and included advice about what to do.

Third, there’s a car advert on TV at the moment that claims the vehicle is ‘the stuff that dreams are made on. Ouch. In this case I reckon the client has translated a European language advert into English without getting a native English speaker on the case.

Fourth, there’s a TV ad about insurance that says something like, ‘…insurance for the stuff you may have in your shed’. You can hear the client’s voice loud and clear. Their ad agency probably wanted to say ‘insurance for the stuff in your shed’ but insurers tend to feel safest when they qualify every statement. Sadly, adding the pointless qualifier ‘you may have’ means the message doesn’t flow anywhere near as well as it could and loses most of its impact.

Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

Comments are closed.