‘Passionate’ about better copy? Nah, neither are we. Copywriting Conference keynote, Ryan Wallman, set us straight on ditching the industry jargon and buzzwords.
We braved trains, the Tube, and morning commuters for the very latest in eloquent turns of phrase and silky puns, aka CopyCon 2018.
Present were hundreds of copywriters and fellow logophiles, thankful to be amongst their own. It’s rare to find a great dedicated copywriting conference, so rare that one attendee made the long journey from Seattle to attend!
We were welcomed by a solid line-up of dazzling speakers, from Anna Gunning helping us get to the heart of a client brief, to Jade Goldsmith and Francesca Catanuso of Booking.com expounding the merits of their meticulous approach to UX design.
The talk that stood out amongst the rest was that of branding savant, Ryan Wallman. Wallman is famous for his quippy remarks on Twitter, and works as Head of Copy at Wellmark, an Australian healthcare communications agency.
The Aussie eviscerates bombastic ‘copy speak’, systematically declaring bullshit on a wide array of industry copy, posting myriad examples of empty, wordy nonsense. Accenture bore the brunt of his disdain. What does this even mean?
Or how about this lengthy monstrosity.
That’s a 63-word sentence, ladies and gentlemen! He then turned the tables on popular slogans, using this logic of ‘more buzzwords preferable’.
Result: Nike’s ‘Just Do it’ becomes…
Catchy, right? Ok, what about Heinz’s iconic ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’?’
While on a roll, he added superfluous drivel to jazz up household items like bottled water and swim caps.
But enough about what we shouldn’t be doing – did Wallman have any tips to share on how we can all write better copy?
One simple message
If you try to say too much in one message, it will result in saying nothing.
The more messages you want to convey in an ad, the lower the likelihood of any one single message being communicated.
Honesty. Clarity. Simplicity.
It’s hard to go wrong with honesty. Get to the point. Think about what you are trying to say. Ryan used some amusingly honest adverts to elucidate this point.
1990s advert “Honestly now…” 1990s Porsche ad by Fallon McElligott plays it blunt and cheeky by appealing to aspirational childhood car ownership dreams of yesteryear.
Amid the chicken delivery fiasco which left thousands without their finger lickin’ good chicken, KFC needed a snappy apology. Enter Mother London with a sincere advert and a perfectly placed expletive, ‘FCK’.
‘Peanuts’, from ad agency Carmichael Lynch, perfectly juxtaposes the aggravation of plane travel against the ease and feel of open road motorcycle driving with accompanying strapline, ‘Somewhere on an airplane a man is trying to rip open a small bag of peanuts’.
Ogilvy Cape Town created a series of sassy and simplistic adverts demonstrating how their Volkswagen will help you:
pick up women
impress a girlfriend’s family
climb the corporate ladder
Shockingly, it’s not as simple as owning the Volkswagen.
Ryan’s tips for writing top copy
Never use ‘innovative’. Ever. This word is meaningless. While we’re at it, let’s add unique, creative and passionate to the list.
Use concrete language. No buzzwords, no jargon. Of course our audience is smart, but no one makes friends by using complex terminology. So, check that jargon at the door.
Think about what you want to say. Then say it.
Use short sentences. Eight-word sentences are ideal, says Wallman. Anything over 32 words is hard to read.
And if none of this has sunk in, to illustrate the point David Mitchell on the use of ‘passionate’.
Do you want copy that’s honest, clear and concise? Get in touch to see how Sookio can help with your messaging.