Bot chat etc.

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Botconference-6

Taglin3r-1

I did an interview with Creative Review this week about chatbots, writing and technology: 

http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2016/may/bot-chat-how-writers-are-helping-machines-to-talk/

It’s a follow-up to the article on copywriting and social media that I wrote for their May issue:

https://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2016/may/too-long-didnt-read/

And references this earlier piece about rearranging slogans: 

http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2016/march/the-brand-line-surgery/

On a different note, I briefly talked to Design Week about the Mars family archive

This concludes the links for today.

Article. Botconference. Links.

Tldr

I’ve written an article for the May issue of Creative Review about the effects of social media on copywriting – and more broadly about the intersection of writing and technology, where interesting things are happening. You can read it in the magazine, or it’s just been republished on the Creative Review blog.

On a related note, chatbots aren’t a new technology, but are becoming a bigger thing. (See this article about Facebook.) While there are many doom-laden headlines about this being the end of copywriting as we know it, bots are a useful tool for writers – or at least a nice thing to play with.

In a rudimentary experiment, I created a Twitter bot called @botconference, which tweets soundbites from a conference without the need for the actual conference. Occasionally, they border on the insightful. 

 

I created it using cheapbotsdonequick, which I discovered through Russell Davies and his @taglin3r bot, which creates corporate taglines. This is a half-serious example of bots as a creative tool. A common technique in creating taglines is to disrupt the language by ignoring conventional grammar. This is hard for humans to do as we instinctively follow the rules, but bots are naturals at it. You still need a writer to decide which ones work (and most don’t), but it’s good for generating possibilities.

Some more links mentioned in the Creative Review article:

Bots and humans, by Russell Davies

Why copywriters could fare well in the age of robots, by Russell Davies

Cleartext by Morten Just

Thing Explainer, by Randall Munroe

More about Siri  

Brand line surgery

Originals (1)

Many brands have straplines that make no sense. This is not a new observation.

The habit of turning nouns into adjectives and vice versa is long-established – it was covered on this blog in 2012.

But things have come to a head with the new Stella Artois brand line – ‘Be legacy’. It feels like something has to give.

Fortunately, there is a quick fix. The most high-profile cases (listed above) can be put right with some straightforward cutting-and-pasting.

The efficiency of this approach is that it is not necessary to write any new lines or use any extra words. Just swap the words between the brands and everyone gets a better outcome.

Trainline

So Trainline gets a line that makes sense.

Expedia

Similarly, this line makes me more interested in Expedia.

Sky

Sky cuts to the chase in a way that I suspect would appeal to its owner.

Rightmove

Rightmove continues to overclaim, but at least this is a sensible and cheerful instruction for people moving house.

BUPA

BUPA emphasises the positive outcome and puts the focus on the customer.

Adidas

This is still a cliched sentiment, but putting it in weird English doesn’t stop it being a cliched sentiment, however much you’d like it to. (This is part of the thinking with a lot of these straplines – it’s about making a boring thought sound new.)

Charmin

I like this. It sets an appropriately charming tone for the brand. No need to go into the details of what the toilet roll brand does – just enjoy it.

Stella

Admittedly, this one is still bollocks. But it kind of makes sense – the legacy being something integral to the product itself. Sort of. 

CocaCola

This sounds slightly menacing, but you could make a nice anthemic jingle out of it.

Lenovo

And finally Lenovo gets nothing. I don’t know what Lenovo stands for, and I doubt they do either. So maybe just embrace that. No brand really owns that nihilistic territory.

As I say, all of this only involves swapping existing words between the brands in question, so it is easy to implement. Signage and other collateral can be sliced up and rearranged without any extra print costs.

Will tidy away the cutting mat now and have a Stella.

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