Category: copywriting

To err is content

I recently sent out an email to a mistyped  address, and here’s an excerpt of the very long error message I received in return. Notice the names of the servers. They’re French for two highly contagious diseases. Somebody was trying to be cute when they named them. I’m sure they thought the names were funny.

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Which English for your content?

English is the official working language of many multinational organizations. But all companies have national roots. When these roots are in non-English speaking countries, the choice of what English to write in can quickly become a headache. What do you mean by “what English to write in”? It’s very common for international companies to originate

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Video

Speak more better with Nespresso

Before the holidays, Nespresso began running a new TV spot in France, featuring the country’s favorite American: George Clooney. Produced by Lowe Stratéus in Paris, it was the latest installment in a long-running saga of ads. Interestingly, the commercial was in English, and was broadcast with subtitles.

My ears always perk up when I hear English on French TV. But this time a hackle was quickly raised. About 28 seconds into the spot the woman says: “I always imagined you to be much more…” at which point George cuts her off and says: “taller?

“I always imagined you to be much more taller” (my emphasis). Ouch.

But recently a new 30-second version has begun airing. And lo and behold, the problem is gone.

I wonder what happened? Did someone spot the mistake and have it fixed? Or was it inadvertently nixed when they trimmed the spot down to 30 seconds?

I have a theory. According to a press release, the ad was scheduled first to run in 13 European countries (none of them English speaking) followed by Australia and Israel. Could it be that the phrase went unnoticed in the first batch of countries, but when it finally made its way down under someone noticed the verbal slip-up and had it edited out?

Whatever the case, the original version is still on the Nespresso Youtube channel. I wonder when they’ll get around to fixing it?

Did anyone reread this?

Yesterday I called my mobile operator Orange to change an option. The sales rep informed that I was eligible for a new service plan that would save me €40 a month. She could send me the documentation if I was interested. Nice sales funnel, I thought. Not too pushy. The email arrived a couple seconds

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On scent and semiotics

Take a quick test for me. I’ll say a word and you tell me the first thing that comes into you head. Ready? Jersey What did you think of? A U.S. state? A sports shirt? A Channel Island? A dairy cow? A knit fabric? Well, the luxury brand Chanel is hoping for the latter. It recently

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A plea for the inverted pyramid

Spotted this while waiting for an x-ray. It’s a poster explaining the risk of allergies to iodine used as a contrast agent in medical imaging. Honestly, the graphic design and structure do nothing to reassure and inform. The most important message is in the conclusion, but you have to wade through a mess of words

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Does your content strategy have principles?

I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of visual, UX and software designers recently. The practice of design has always fascinated me. It started early on, when I received a crash course on graphic design from the first art director I ever worked with. He taught me that I shouldn’t write or think in

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Playing with the truth

How not to endear yourself to weary travelers. Don’t fib in English in the headline and tell the truth in French in the subhead. 15 minutes on complimentary Wi-Fi isn’t Wi-Fi For Free.

Image

Your underwear is showing

Shopping Cart Error Message

Is this really supposed to be reassuring?

While shopping online today I was presented with this screed of code at the bottom of the Shipping Method Selection page. Goes on for lines and lines. How many people would run away when faced with this? Definitely doesn’t inspire much confidence. And I love the “will go away eventually” line. Error message content at its finest. Proof that sometimes the best content is no content at all. Instead, bang the table and get people to fix the problem instead of shaving the bear.

Seth's Blog: The pleasant reassurance of new words

Why I try my best to fight jargon, vacuous phrases and buzzwords. “It’s a lot easier for an organization to adopt new words than it is to actually change anything.” Seth’s Blog: The pleasant reassurance of new words.

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