Innocent Drinks brought us more than just delicious smoothies when they first hit the UK market. They also introduced us to the idea of quirky and humorous packaging and website copy. This broke the semi-formal mould and suddenly no holds were barred. |
That’s all fine and dandy. Innocent have done it well over the years and they certainly gave rise to numerous imitators such as Nando’s, Little Me Organics and plenty of hip young web designers.
I remain ambivalent about the whole quirky copywriting thing, even though I’m a copywriter who’s done quite well out of the genre over the years. Let me say at the outset that I’m grateful to Innocent for putting the whole copywriting thing on the map in the first place. Whatever you think of quirky copy, plenty movers and shakers have hired a professional copywriter just because they were made aware of the Innocent tone of voice.
I’ve also enjoyed a bit of a reputation as a king of quirk. If folk want quirky copywriting, they tend to come to me. Thanks. Much of this work was for a famous bingo site and around 30% of my copywriting since 2003 has involved some form of humorous copywriting.
There’s no doubt that, in the last year or so, there’s been a slight backlash against the genre. People who used to love quirky copywriting are starting to find it a little bit annoying and just too clever-clever.
Admittedly, one of the annoying aspects of quirky copywriting is that, with the fruity-drinks firm, there was a good reason for the tone of voice. The words were written that way because they intended to convey a pure naiveté that was relevant to the brand.
When some of Innocent’s copycats jumped into the quirky arena, they did so just because it was cool – not because it made sense to do so in the context of their brand.
For anyone who’s interested, there’s a website called Wackaging. It brings to the fore some of the more cloying examples of this distinctive tone of voice.
But I do believe that the quirky copywriter still has a place. For starters, for the right brand, this style of copy works wonders. Let’s be honest, brands exist to tell you what to do. They want you to buy. Stay loyal. Recommend them. Trouble is, they don’t wish to do this is a bossy way. That’s why they use childish language to speak to their subjects. They bury their true purpose behind ‘innocent’-seeming messages.
There’s also no doubt that quirky copywriting engenders a natural trust in a brand. It works best for wholesome products that are fundamentally good for our health or the environment. For a manufacturer of seal clubs, however, an alternative tone of voice might be better.
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