(This is a guest blog by Caroline Wijetunge of Liquid Copy)
That’s a little like how I feel about dorset cereals. Much as I love the actual products – and I do, I really do – I’ve always felt ambivalent about the writing on the box. In dorset cereal world, nothing bad happens. Ever. In fact, the copy tends to take symbols of a bygone British idyll – like cricket and tea – and surrounds us in a fug of cosy nostalgia that would make even Nigel Farage blush.
Take this, from their website…
It’s the simple pleasures that make us happy, whether it’s a flask of hot tea on the beach or a spring walk with the dog. So, when we’re creating new recipes, we don’t mess about with anything complicated.
We just take a handful of lovely things, throw in some yummy things, then mix it all up with a generous measure of tasty things. Simple, but then the best things in life usually are.
Oooh, dorset cereals, you’re just so fluffy and lovely and scrumptious, I could eat you up! In fact, I often do. And yet, your copy is so stuffed with words like comfy, oozing, lovely, glorious and heavenly, I need to come up for air. The slogan for the company is ‘honest, tasty and real’ and yet all this feels like pure fantasy. In other words, the copy feels manipulative.
Now, this chummy approach to packaging copy is everywhere these days – and judging by this article by Lucy Sweet in Sabotage Times and Rebecca Nicholson’s wackaging tumblr, it irritates the hell out of a lot of people. Many people blame innocent drinks for this deluge of infantilised branding – but I actually like innocent’s approach. Yes, it’s chummy – and okay, it can get irritating, but it’s clever too. Look at this:
Whoever thought it would be a great idea to refer to enemas when trying to sell a smoothie is a mad genius. It’s writing that makes you smile. It respects your intelligence: it assumes you’ll get the joke and appreciate it. That doesn’t feel manipulative – it just feels like someone trying to make a connection.
Ironic, isn’t it? What makes innocent so appealing as a brand is that it isn’t innocent, it’s savvy. I admit it’s subtle, but dorset cereals wants to pretend we’re still on top of the Christmas tree and everything’s peachy – when, jaded copywriter that I am, I know it’s not *sobs into scented handkerchief*.
Still, won’t stop me eating their cereals. They’re yummy.
Caroline Wijetunge, copywriter and owner of Liquid Copy, writes for business, non-profits and fun.