Guest post: LG’s smart advertising

Today, we have a guest post by copywriter Phil Williams. Thanks for bringing this dreadful bit of ad copy to our attention, Phil!

If you’re going to use being smart as a selling point in an advertisement, your accompanying copy should be pretty intelligent. That’s the angle this LG ad went with, and its physical appearance as some kind of poem certainly suggests the copywriter is doing something very clever. Except it’s not a poem. And it’s not especially clever.

BE YOU BE SMART, a rather forceful headline, throws two ideas together without much care for the reader. On first glance, I saw it as ‘BE YOUBE SMART’. Perhaps a particular kind of smart that doesn’t need to separate two clauses. Maybe that’s just me, but rolling these words together without any punctuation sounds odd. Like you’re blurting it out in a panic, hoping to say it quickly enough that no one will think about it. Unluckily, LG – I have thought about it. A lot.

Then there’s the poetic appearance of the prose. In places individual lines appear to emphasise certain aspects of the product. ‘For easier access’ and ‘built to make your life easier’ work well as ideas worthy of their own line, indeed. ‘While saving energy and’ and ‘range which cares for your clothes’ are a bit harder to justify. Maybe this style wasn’t intended, maybe some malicious designer threw in random paragraphs to mess with us. But by accident or design, it creates an awkward read. And awkward reads don’t inspire confidence in a product.

One thing this disjointed paragraphing does achieve is slowing down the reading process enough to allow a reader to pick up on more pedantic errors. Like a lack of hyphenated adjective compounds. Apparently this writer thought hyphens were only necessary for product jargon, such as Door-in-Door and HOM-BOT. A bot ‘that cleans the hard to reach corners’ is technically cleaning the ‘hard’ in order to reach the corners. A bot ‘that cleans the hard-to-reach corners’ is doing a difficult job.

I doubt anyone’s really going to misinterpret it, but LG invited me to be smart. And when I try to be smart while looking at an advertisement about being smart, I take note of the way copywriters construct their sentences.

Phil Williams is a freelance writer, a sometime English teacher and an occasional vagabond, currently based in Brighton. As a copywriter and a creative writer, he now runs two websites: www.copywritenow.co.uk and www.writerightnow.co.uk.

7 Responses to “Guest post: LG’s smart advertising”

  1. Add in a fairly random approach to spreading their capital letters around. Then a bit where I can’t work out if I have six washing machines or the range has six, or even if the six might be something to do with something else. And why it saves not only energy, but Hom-Bot Squares, whatever they may be? And between Phil and I, we haven’t even started to pick real holes in the copy.

    There’s one point where I disagree with Phil, though. I don’t think any copywriter has been near this copy.

  2. KEB says:

    Good work! And another thing. That whole poemy list is, er, not a sentence. As you say, the layout makes it look like syntax. It reads REALLY badly as you go down, no commas or full stops or eventual arrival at a predicate…

    In general, though, of course, I think more ads should feature poems. GOOD ones.

  3. Michael says:

    I once had to explain hyphens to class of Civil Servants training to write letters to MPs. In the class was a smallish man who was the manager of their internal computer system. He was both the small-systems manager and the small systems manager.
    It was funny at the time.

  4. Brad Shorr says:

    The ad is dreadful, but we love our LG fridge. Usually ads over promise, so in a way, it’s refreshing to see an ad that convincingly under delivers.

  5. Phil says:

    Thanks for the comments, I’m glad you all picked up on a few more of their crimes, I suppose I could’ve made an essay out of it. And yeah KEB, they have cunningly disguised the lack of any meaningful sentence structure with their fancy poetry design.

    And thank god for word-of-mouth, then, Brad, they’d have a hard time selling otherwise!

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