Category Archives: Copywriter

Great article; shame about the headline

Enjoyable recent WIRED article on Standard Life Aberdeen’s rebrand as ‘abrdn’.

“Wolff Olins global CEO Sairah Ashman stresses that the fund house “had already developed a name to work with” before her team was brought on board.”

‘stresses’ is priceless! (“You writing this down?”)

Peter Matthews from brand consultancy Nucleus came up with the pithy “It must have been a breeze to trade mark and register domains.”

Presumably abrdn CEO Stephen Bird was ultimately responsible for the ‘already developed’ name, which suggests a headline rather more to the point than the one used: Bird lays egg.

Stewart Steel, strategy director at agency Good says “in five days no one will care about the name”, but I think he’s wrong. I reckon this will hang round abrdn’s corporate neck like a rotting albatross corpse until someone – Bird’s successor, like as not – does the necessary.

All in all, an object lesson in Rebranding: How Not To do it.


Oh, those monosyllables….

And from The Prince of Darkness himself… “The last 11 general elections read ‘lose, lose, lose, lose, Blair, Blair, Blair, lose, lose, lose, lose’.”

I noticed even Deliveroo getting in on the act, with hoardings at the FA Cup Final bearing the brilliant line:


Deliveroo somehow managing to come across as both a mate and a trusty servant in just four words and two full stops.  Bet their drivers/riders had a busy half time…


Top masher

Rereading Fire & Fury – Michael Wolff’s eye-popping account of life in the Trump White House – I came across a word I’d not encountered before:

‘Masher’? What’s a masher? Google to the rescue:

Excellent word! And the first I think I’ve come across where UK English has no synonym. The nearest I can think of are Terry Thomas type pre-war stuff: a cad, a bounder and the like. But none are as specific as the American term, denoting as they do a chap who’s a bit of a bad egg generally, rather than one who ‘mashes’ women.

Let’s hear it for the vigorous continuing growth of the language. Hoorah!


Went to check out the booking situation for my local, only to discover one of the more cretinous bits of web design I’ve come across lately. Even the swimming pool I go to manages to provide a calendar of upcoming availability. Not the pub. Oh, no, that would be too sensible.



That’s it. Pick a time, any time, and if that specific time is not available, it’ll say No. Not now, and not within two and a half hours. But it won’t give you options that are available. No, you just have to stick another tail on the donkey and…No. Not now, and not within two and a half hours. And don’t think that means there’s availability at three hours. Nope. Check +3 hrs and you’ll get the same message. They could be booked for the whole evening, the entire week ahead, but there’s no way to find out. The most info you’ll ever get, if not ‘ok’, is No. Not now, and not within two and a half hours.

These people get paid and everything. <grrr emoji>

What do you do?

Apparently I’ve been doing it wrong all these years…

“…to have ideas, to see the world in a new way, and to share that unique vision with consumers in a way that they will immediately understand.”

And there was me thinking a copywriter’s job was to write great copy that achieves his or her client’s objectives.

Maybe it’s time for me to see the world in a new way. Get me one o’ they unique visions. Then find me some consumers to share it with. Hot dang! Why did no-one tell me this stuff before?

Play up, play up…

Two of my favourite recent bits of English came from sports commentators: one from the footie, one from the 6 Nations. From the latter, we had

“The French combination of the big, heavy pieces of furniture and the more bijoux pieces, like…”

An ITV rugby commentator using ‘bijoux’?  (‘big, heavy pieces of furniture’ is also terrific.)

But my favourite was the football commentator during a recent Spurs match:

“But VAR are playing their games here and looking to see whether a beautifully crafted moment of footballing joy should be snuffed out by a piece of miserable geometry.”

(I’m happy to confirm that as it turned out, VAR gave the thumbs up.)