I’m haunted by the triple ‘C’, I open my local paper; switch on my radio; watch the TV – it’s everywhere. It’s been like that for years. Condemning; intrusive and delivering the evidence. Crappy Copy Content is rife! You know the stuff that businesses use in all their advertisements to deliver what is mostly, useless information.
I’m sick of being treated like a moron and so I hope are the majority of us consumers, you know those important individuals that buy and create consumerism; the stuff that keeps the economy moving.
CCC and its horrors fall into a number of categories, all of which are equally distressing for a wordsmith such as I – not so much because they defy the laws of language but more because they so badly miscommunicate the real message.
Advertisements are supposed to persuade and inform, to tell consumers what a company offers; how they benefit you and I and what it is about their product or service that makes them different from their competitor. Unfortunately, such objectives appear to elude most amateur advertisers.
Let’s deal with the ‘Cucumber’ Syndrome first, the pandemic which is based on repeating things like a tautological frog; The Busselton Baby Pram Company who proudly announces that in Busselton it has a range of magnificent Baby Prams. Really! I thought it sold stewed kangaroo in Geraldton; a hypothetical exaggeration? Not at all – check out the paper each week, it’s there giving us all indigestion.
Then there’s ‘Shadow’ Syndrome’, you know the copy that gets pinched from the big boys. ‘ Oh what a Feeling!‘ Fred’s Greengrocers, bad syntax and of course accompanied by good old Fred and his missus attempting to defy gravity by hurtling over the green peas. This would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. ‘Passing Off’ is a punishable offence under law and if the big boys get nasty you’re in deep do-do.
‘Bragging’ Disease is of course common place – We sell cheaper!; We’re the Best!; No one can beat our prices!; The world’s best quality!; Joe Nark Universe winner of this year’s sales award etc. Platitudes of questionable credibility, all designed to help your cheekbones stretch to a yawn. My favorite is ” We do it Better” – Kinky hey? I’m sure they do but I’m not about to find out, whatever it is.
In the end it all adds up to more ‘bull’ than the Gun Barrel Highway and worse, it’s down right illegal to make claims you can’t substantiate, so unless you can prove you’re the best – DON’T say so.
But of all the sins committed by companies in delivering their message, one repeat offender sends me into pure apoplexy. It’s the dreaded staff photos. You know the line up of personnel complete with passport photo, shot by the office camera freak with a three pixel mobile phone twinky. All lined up at the bottom of the page to tell you how good their ice cream is. For crying out loud, are we buying these people? Are they for sale? Is it likely I can take one home? No! Then why are they there? I’ll meet them when I come in won’t I? On second thoughts maybe not, some of them are very scary.
What is it about our products that are so understated that the people who sell them become more important than the solutions their products offer? It does my head in. Brendan maybe the world’s best vacuum cleaner salesman but why do I want to meet fast talking Brendan. Give me good old quiet Flo anyway, at least I can get a word in edgeways and she’ll listen to what I need.
Be aware, this is not just the meanderings of a grumpy old copywriter, this is much more. It’s ‘ left hook‘ time. Advertising content can so easily work the opposite way to that which is intended, sometimes it makes the punter switch off – or worse. So in this case you’re actually paying to tell people to go somewhere else. Now that’s good business – sorry but my tongue just got caught in my cheek.
Businesses need to ensure that the copy and the content of their advertisements aren’t working against them and if they don’t know – they should consult someone who does. Or better still get a professional to conceptualise, write and design their ads, that way they’ll have someone else to blame!!!
Don’t be a Bourke and let the CCC get you.