Getting a buzz from clever wordplay
THE WORLD outside these days is so cluttered with advertising messages that I seldom pay attention to any of them when I am – as the ad experts say – “out of home”.
And if I do notice something outdoors, then it tends to be a big brash billboard.
And I hardly ever notice – nor do most of you, I bet – the branding on commercial vehicles, hundreds of which pass by every day.
The other morning, though, I did see one which made me take notice… and which brought a smile to my cynical, jaded countenance.
There was a bright (and I mean bright) pink delivery van, which in itself made it stand out. It was covered with stylised flowers and insects, but it was the bold script along the side which caught my eye: BEE Compliant.
Alongside, above and below this, it became clear, were cartoonish bees, buzzing around the flowers.
Then I looked a little further and saw the van was a delivery vehicle for online flower seller Netflorist. Of course, all their products would be “bee compliant”.
Very clever play on words, very topical – but also very apt, because it emphasised the fresh nature of the company’s products.
And the cheerful colour scheme underlined the fact that there was probably a delivery under way right then.
And if I needed to send flowers, I would know exactly where to go, so a fragrant Orchid for you, Netflorist.
I go on so much about the correct use of language that I fear people will start taking me for a grumpy old man, nitpicking about the use of words, which is, after all, an evolving process.
However, there are times when ignorant copywriters who think they are clever (and sadly, they know not that they know not) not only get things wrong but they send the entirely wrong message on behalf of their clients.
One classic is the latest radio ad for the SA Institute of Professional Accountants, an august body which seeks to convince listeners that employing one of their more than 6 000 members will instantly sort out whatever ails their business.
However, the ad’s use of English (and I accept that words are not an accountant’s forte inasmuch as profit and loss spreadsheets are not for me) leaves me worrying about whether professionalism does exist in the organisation, because somebody must have approved the ad.
This is because the tag line of the ad is “Transforming wealth…”
Think about that for a moment. “Transforming wealth…”
Ignorant copywriter and ignorant client think that by tossing in a flavour- of- the- month word like “transforming” they are somehow being cutting edge.
But, transforming means changing completely.
And if you change wealth completely, you can only have one thing: poverty.
Great message to send potential clients – give us your business and we will transform your wealth into nothing, we’ll drive your company into bankruptcy.
If you can’t get basic meanings of words right, you accountants, why should I trust you with my business? Fat Onion.