Get­ting a buzz from clever word­play

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - MEDIA& MARKETING -

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.

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