diamond geezer

 Friday, October 16, 2020

Earlier this week I received a plastic-wrapped 'newspaper' in the post, a 32-page promotional mailshot bigging up the delights of Canary Wharf. I didn't ask for it, they targeted my address and spent money on postage, so keen are they to bring paying punters back to the estate. The newspaper is called Discover Canary Wharf and focuses on retail, hospitality, recreational and property-owning pleasures. Its target audience is affluent, style-conscious, experience-loving consumers. And the strapline is All The Space You Need To Meet, Relax And Reconnect.

This is a poor strapline. Canary Wharf isn't somewhere you'd come for 'space', being mostly offices and malls and tightly packed buildings. Meeting and reconnecting are no longer advised, or won't be indoors from tomorrow once London's risk level is raised to High. But the biggest issue is that lazy phrase All You Need, which copywriters often employ to make something sound much better than it really is.

The 32 pages are awash with lazy copywriting. This, for example, is the third paragraph of the introduction on page 3.
"From a theatrical, flaming-throwing cocktail bar to a cutting edge esports cafe, a host of international eateries to an ice-cream parlour from one of the world's most famous gelato makers, Canary Wharf has never been such an exciting place to live and visit."
Set aside the fact that "flaming-throwing" is not a thing, and that the activities may sound like your personal version of hell, and scream instead at that final phrase. It's October 2020, many businesses are closed or acting under stringent restrictions and a sizeable proportion of the estate's working population is staying at home. The idea that "Canary Wharf has never been such an exciting place to live and visit" is self-evident drivel, for example in comparison to February 2020 or (hopefully) October 2023. Lazy copywriting all too often thrives on thoughtless exaggeration.

So I've been through all 32 pages in search of examples of lazy copywriting. Here are two dozen unjustifiable claims that leapt out.

» "Read on to discover the best places to socialise and shop, to exercise and explore, to live and unwind." (no, it's entirely subjective)
» "What to expect from the must-visit new openings in Canary Wharf" (nowhere is a "must-visit")
» "Obicà offers the freshest traditional Italian dishes" (fresh, but not freshest)
» "For dinner with a view, French restaurant Plateau cannot be beaten" (it bloody can)
» "Those dreaming of sunshine should visit Venice Beach by way of Ahi Poké, a Californian-inspired poké brand" (they needn't bother)
» "A charming outdoor terrace is the perfect spot to watch the world go by, cocktail in hand" (it really isn't)
» "Wanyoo is a place where everyone can enjoy themselves" (I beg to differ)
» "For those who've missed watching the latest films on release, the Everyman in Crossrail Place will be a must-visit this autumn" (oh mate, I have news for you)
» "Blondie and David Bowie, the great icons of the past century..." (two of them, perhaps)
» "Calvin Klein Underwear - the ultimate uniform for lazy duvet days" (I don't believe it is)
» "These are the menswear brands and services to know about this season" (they are perhaps some of them)
» "For those who spent lockdown in loungewear, Reiss's new collection will be a hit (unproven and incorrect)
» "If you've missed out on a holiday this year, seek out your favourite international cuisine at Canary Wharf" (total non-sequitur)
» "If you don't know your your EMOMs from your aMRAPs, it's time to sign up to one of 300 weekly courses at Third Space" (I don't, and it isn't)
» "Experience the ultimate clean swimming experience in Canary Wharf's 23 metre pool" (I bet there are ultimater)
» "Tennis, basketball, running, boxing, rugby - name a sport and JD Sports will cater to it" (polo? hang gliding? rallycross? Eton fives?)
» "The skin might be the largest organ in the body but it's often the last to get the attention it deserves" (skin invariably precedes spleen)
» "Canary Wharf is the new leader in wellbeing therapies" (it very much isn't)
» "There's never been a more important time to look after ourselves, whether that's with general check-ups, sports consultations or cosmetic retouches" (a wholly dubious claim)
» "Canary Wharf has all you need to make your house a home" (not even John Lewis is that good)
» "No modern home is complete without the latest technology" (at least one modern home is)
» "Canary Wharf's new neighbourhood, Wood Wharf, is home to a vibrant community" (not yet it isn't, it's a building site)
» "The new neighbourhood offers unbeatable views" (hundreds of locations beat it)
» "Exceptional architectural feats offering the best in waterside living" (Venice does it better)
» "For art-lovers, this must be on your list of places to visit in London" (no, you're allowed to skip it)

Let me focus more closely on the paragraph about Harbour Quay Gardens, the new riverside park at Wood Wharf. It's less than half finished, backs onto a building site and the view from its benches looks like this.

Here's what Discover Canary Wharf has to say.
"A day by the seaside in a far off destination might be a distant memory for some of us, but you can relive the fantasy a little closer to home at this waterside spot. The boardwalks are the perfect place to stroll while enjoying views of the surrounding docklands; wind your way along the path, or take a breather on one of the many waterside benches."
Treat this as a masterclass in how to construct zingy promotional content out of nothing. First use the "if you liked X you'll love Y" construction, comparing something great with whatever lesser version you've got. Then claim something you have is perfect, even if it isn't, and round off with a sentence so bland it could refer to anywhere. That's how easy it is to write overblown hype, even if you've never been to the place you're writing about.

I should point out that most of the remainder of the newspaper's content is fine, avoiding false claims by presenting factual comment without additional qualifiers.

» "There are plenty of places to grab a drink in Canary Wharf"
» "For special occasions consider booking the private dining room"
» "Own a home in one of London's most exciting new neighbourhoods"
» "Choose from a menu of hydrating, multi-vitamin and immunity-boosting drips"
» "Guests at The Grandstand Bar are known to spill out onto Canada Square Park"
» "Awakn is a luxury wellness facility offering strength, cardiovascular, boxing and functional classes"
» "Like jukeboxes, Polaroids and vinyl, the last few years have seen shuffleboards get the hipster treatment"

When the English language is so rich and varied, there really is no need to copywrite lazily.

All The Some Space You Need Could Use To Meet, Relax And Reconnect

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream