What were these writers thinking?

For your amusement – some bits and bobs that entertained us while we were out and about.

First up, a nice example of bathos, produced, we assume, by a copywriter who was having a bad day. Probably because the client said something like “I’m not keen on the word ‘sandwich’. Is there another word we can use?”


Tesco comestibles



Although Tesco’s “comestibles” do sound rather more appealing than this. Has Hannibal Lecter opened a restaurant?


Hannibal Lecter's restaurant



Oh dear. Unfortunate line break in the next one. And lack of hyphen. We suspect the copywriter and designer colluded here to tell the world about an annoying client.





A lot of people struggle to distinguish between “its” and “it’s”. These next people didn’t even get it wrong properly.


Apostrophe crime



We love this bit of party political marketing, from an age when people were clearly more deferential to politicians.


Bernard Crick



We’re noticing a worrying trend in which taking a common phrase and reversing it passes for copywriting (also spotted around town: “Believing is seeing”). The results are just a bit baffling.





And here we have another slightly head scratchy bit of copy, this time thanks to some rather pompous language. We’re not exactly sure what we’re supposed to do with the information.





Yes, like you, we’re wondering if the point about this next one is you turn up and the tutor asks you why you’re here when you should be working.





And finally, we really think the marketing team of one of the UK’s top universities should have run this strap line by a few people before plastering it all over their website and campus.




7 comments so far . . . come and pitch in!

  1. Kevin Mills says:

    Whenever it’s rained at Canary Wharf, the entrance to the Jubilee Line has a dot-matrix sign with the warning:
    Seeing this annoys me even more than the rain or the packed trains. Well, maybe not quite that much. But what’s wrong with ‘BEWARE: SLIPPERY FLOORS’?

    *They’re not kidding, though; the floor has no grip and is extremely dangerous when it’s wet.

  2. Clare Lynch says:

    Kevin, I wonder how many accidents have been caused by rushing commuters trying to take in that sign?

    There’s something about travel and verbosity.

    My bugbears are:

    “This train is formed of three coaches”. What’s wrong with “has”?


    “For the purposes of security and safety management”, which is more than twice as long as it need be. If you have to remind us you’re looking out for us, why not not just say “for your safety”

  3. Tony says:

    Any corporate that spends vast sums on marketing and employs professionals to do this sort of thing deserves to be derided when you see the sort of nonsense produced above. And in that light I had some sympathy for the small café owner who just had an unfortunate turn of phrase when trying to sell a bowl of slightly posher chips. This was until I saw one of my personal menu bugbears that exasperates my wife as I will rant about it for the entire meal. £4.25 might be a lot of money for flatbread & hummus or mini sausages w/ honey glaze but it’s not up to me to determine your pricing strategy but if you want to charge £4.25 say £4.25 not 4¼. It’s not sophisticated, it’s not clever and it’s not continental – it’s just pretentious so please stop it! This example was even more egregious with 4 point ¼. Now they’re mixing fractions and decimals which is just unforgivable.

  4. Tony says:

    Great list. Sometimes I wonder how these things go far enough to be printed and nobody sees how foolish they look. Especially the misuse of it’s/its and the missing hyphen. Then the first one comestibles, is that really the best word for sandwich. Speak in a language people can understand.

    check out my five tips to write better copy. http://adgeek1.blogspot.com/

  5. […] you’ll recall, appeared in our previous perp lineup for the excruciating strapline “Embrace colourful language”. (What? When you open your […]

  6. Chris says:

    I don’t get the “Service While you fly” one, what’s wrong with it? Both of the instances of “it’s” I see there can be replaced by “it is”, so I don’t see the problem…
    Strange that despite going to a “grammar school”, it wasn’t heavily stressed in English classes.

  7. Clare Lynch says:

    Look at the sub-head, Chris.

    The unfortunate line break and lack of hyphen leaves the reader thinking they’re being offered a “passport to hassle”.

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