The #1 deadly sin of copywriting: inflating weak ideas with boastfulness
Every year on International Women’s Day big brands go wild.
Some celebrate the date with ad campaigns pretending they care about gender equality.
Most brands just preach about female empowerment like if they really gave a damn.
But this year something different happened.
A British Twitter bot @PayGapApp hijacked the trend.
You see, in the UK if you run a company with 250 employees or more you are legally required to publish a gender pay gap report.
A Twitter bot that exposed the difference between what brands preach and what they do.
So each time a British brand tweeted about International Women’s Day using hashtags like #IWD and #BreakTheBias the bot simply retweeted and called them out on what their real gender pay gap is.
People loved it.
And PayGapApp quickly became a topic of conversation.
Then The Independent, The National, NYT, ABC News Australia and other British and international news outlets picked up the story and exposed all these brands to even more public humiliation.
Saying your brand stands for equality, sustainability or any other feel good platitudes is useless.
Because what matters is not what you say. How you say it is what makes people stop, look, listen and believe you.
Jerry Seinfeld didn't become the first billionaire comedian because he kept saying, "I'm funny." Seinfeld simply WAS (and still IS) funny .
And even now that he's a billionaire, Seinfeld still works hard to write better jokes.
Also, The Pet Shop Boys didn't become the most successful duo in UK music history by saying, "we're refreshingly weird and different."
They simply behaved more like “a fringe theatre company” and less like a traditional Pop band. Their proof points? Odd, colorful costumes... AND synth pop songs that had a very quirky and distinct Pet Shop Boys vibe.
As Judith Martin AKA 'Miss Manners' once wisely said, “It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.”
1/ Don’t tell people you’re funny, tell them a joke. Don’t tell people you’re high quality or sustainable, prove it.
So If a client says, “We want people to think our company is sustainable,” the solution isn’t a new website or ad campaign communicating, “Hello World, we’re sustainable.”
The solution is to BE sustainable. AND to turn their “proof points” into memorable, interesting, powerful stories that can really prove that what your client claims is true.
Example: Campo Viejo is a Spanish wine brand (for some reason very popular in the UK).
In 2011 Campo Viejo became the first ever Spanish winery to certify its carbon footprint. And in 2012 Campo Viejo became the first Spanish winery certified as carbon neutral.
Campo Viejo has also won a bunch of awards for environmentally friendly and sustainability practices.
Of course, Campo Viejo could brag about all the awards they've won. But that's a bit, errr, boring. And boring won't help them sell more wine.
But telling interesting stories that prove Campo Viejo is indeed a sustainable brand...stories worth telling your friends about next time you’re sharing a bottle of Campo Viejo wine...now that can certainly help Campo Viejo sell more wine.
(Because a website without good copy is like Chuck Norris without a beard. Powerless. Unnatural. A tragedy. Work with me, let’s ramp up the selling power of your website words).
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