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Duncan Bloor

I'll bet those same journalists were loving innocent when they first came out.

It's a simple adoption curve, those early adopting journalists have loved and are now sick of 'wackaging' but it will take a good few years for the general public to tire of it by which time those journo's will be raving about 'sweary copy' where pepsi tells us to 'buy my mutha f*ck*ng cola assh*le' (NB If sweary copy takes off as a concept, let it be known I started it but am now onto the next trend already.

Nick Asbury

Good point about the adoption curve. Like I say, it feels like there have been a few people moaning about this for years, but it's reaching that point where it becomes a clamour. My worry is that it will soon become socially unacceptable to admit to being a copywriter in polite company.


Hey Nick, great post - interesting discussion. I wrote something about this recently, particularly in reference to copywriting on the web: http://gigaom.com/2011/09/12/hypercasual-when-the-web-gets-a-little-too-friendly/

inspired by this post by my friend katy lindemann: http://www.katylindemann.com/2011/09/05/contentstrategy/

I think the sudden explosion is not just to do with the idea that brands are people, but because the web, social media and other flat communication methods have led some to believe (incorrectly) that friendly tone is one-size-fits-all.

As far as the adoption curve, that's true to an extent - but I think it's worth remembering than an adoption curve only exists because people adopt it. Innocent, in my mind at least, is not to blame for those who imitate it with wackaging or bad hypercasual copy.


Great post. It seems to me that this tone is symptomatic of businesses loosing confidence in themselves. A company that is happy with it's perception by others wouldn't feel the need to lower its tone.

The example you show from Anglian Water is a step too far. No-one wants their bills talking to them in a 'quirkily' honest way (let alone 'love every drop'). I see Anglian are also guilty of loosing their capital letters. Grrr.

Nick Asbury

@Bobbie - that's a really good article. Hypercasual is a good word for what we're talking about - and you're right that social media adds an extra dimension to this.

@Graphite Square - I agree it's about a loss of confidence, but it's funny how it comes across almost exactly the opposite way. The Anglian Water mailing has a chronic overload of misplaced confidence.

What interests me about all this is the relationship between these terrible examples and the way we talk about copywriting to clients in general.

'Tone of voice' has been a great device to get people thinking about copy, but it's left clients thinking that copy is all about tone - the more you can slap on, the better.

But as the articles by Bobbie & Katy Lindeman point out, this overlooks the role of other elements, including content strategy. There are many ways to 'brand' your writing, and tone is just one of them. What you say is much more important.

A lot of the fluff around at the moment is saying almost nothing content-wise - it's there purely to convey personality, and usually quite an annoying one.

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