Top 5 Bad Copies (with examples) and How to Fix Them

Reading Time: 8 minutes

No matter what people tell you, copywriting is hard.

Sometimes you just have talent, you are more perceptive to what people want, but most of the time, a good copy requires practice.

“Repetitio est mater studiorum.”—that’s what the Latin proverb says.

But, in today’s article I choose some of the most “exquisite” copies which came out of the ovens’ of some famous brands. In their case, we already expect practice. We want catchy ads that make us want to buy!

Unfortunately (for them), that doesn’t always happen. Let’s take a closer look at what Santa has in his bag.

1. Bloomingdales holiday wishes ads

One can sum up advertisement in 2 elements—short message with maximum impact. But I don’t think any brand’s purpose is to encourage raping your best friend. And that’s what Bloomingdales’ audience understood from this ad. And we can’t really blame them, can we?

Short message do have a major drawback—they can easily be interpreted in like..a million ways. That’s why we need to find keywords that have the same cultural meaning, which create the same general mental image in people’s minds.

So, how can we make this ad better? Simple.

 

„We wish you a Marry Christmas. Especially to the ones standing under the mistletoe.”

Why is this version better?

  1. It keeps the initial message—wishing a cheerful holiday using the element of humour
  2. It conveys a positive message—while the first ad conveyed the idea of rape, in the second one I did exactly the opposite. I used words such as „Marry” and „mistletoe” which made you think about marriage. And marriage is culturally viewed as a positive experience, bringing joy, laughter and all the good vibes. And that is what you want your audience to perceive.

Making happy ads means making happy viewers. Happy viewers are easily turned into happy customers. And finally, happy customers convert into happy profit. And that’s what you want.

2. Bud Light – #upforwhatever campaign

Advertisement is a tricky business. We have witnessed ads which made us drool all over the TV screen as if they had some magical powers. They just made us want to buy their stuffs without even knowing the real reason why we want it. And, on the other side of the spectrum, there are the ads that really make us scratch our heads. Let me give you an example—the Bud Light #upforwhatever campaign.

„What can be wrong?” you might be asking. Well, let me tell you in case you’ve never heard of the scandal. Their ad message sounds as if they are encouraging rape. Or at least that’s what the audience was saying. Basically, they are promoting an alcoholic beverage which supposedly gives you the power of doing whatever you please, no matter if the others tell you „no”. Which is pretty similar to the definition of rape..

Definitely, the problem is the chosen wording. So, how can we fix it? Let’s see.

 

„To keep the adventure all night long. The perfect beer for the experience seekers.”

Why is this version better?

  1. It conveys the initial message—it’s a beer that makes you be adventurous, have fun, try out new things.
  2. It doesn’t involve third parties. It’s all about the person who drinks it, about what can he get by paying money for this beverage (in this case, he gets courage to do crazy stuffs).

3. Lego

Pretty famous company we got here, don’t we? Well, bad copies don’t discriminate. You can find them at upper levels as well.

So, what do we have here? The first line is very basic. We can see it on the majority of websites. Not impressed. What draw my attention next is the line „..the company is still owned by..”. Ahm..it sounds very newspapery, doesn’t it? Or is it just me? We don’t care about the previous, the current or even the future owner. We care about the products and how they benefit us. The rest is information belonging to a news report.

The next thing which made me raise my eyebrows was the line „..the company provides toys, experiences and teaching materials..”. My question is—what experiences? I mean, they mentioned „toys”, I was already picturing my child playing and then they mentioned „experiences”. This one made me go „wuuut??!”. It literally dragged me out from my daydream. What experiences are they talking about? By buying this product I will get some extrasensory experiences? Will I transform or what? Be clear. Customers need to understand what they are paying for.

Now, after shredding this copy into pieces, let’s see how we can rebuild it in a better way.

 

„Once we become parents, children become the apple of our eye. We see in them hope, innocence, joy, as well as potential. And that’s when we set our mission—to do our best in order to help them grow beautifully, to teach and to protect them, to guide them into becoming the best version of themselves.

Knowing the importance of such goals, we strive to create well-crafted toys which engage your child in the learning process, making it easier for him to discover new elements in his surroundings and adapt to an ever changing environment, as he grows up. Different for every age gap, we develop toys meant to challenge your child’s mind and to boost his creativity, all while having fun.

Our journey as a company started in the year of 1932. We have never ceased to give our best endeavours so as to always meet your standards, as a parent. So let’s take this journey together and establish a safe educational environment for our children.”

Let’s shred my copy now. Why is it better?—

  1. It doesn’t start with the company first. It starts with the audience. It shows that the company puts their clients’ best interest above theirs. If you notice, I only mentioned the founding year and I stressed the company’s efforts, both of which can be found only in the last paragraph.
  2. It targets directly the customers’ needs which is providing the best educational toys for their children. As parents, we would walk miles on our bare feet, we would sacrifice anything for our children. And that’s what I emphasised—that we understand what you want as a parent.
  3. I connected with the reader by using words such as „we”, „our children”. I created a bond by showing that we belong to the same ingroup—we are parents as well. We want our best for our children. We have the same goal.

4. Sales Email

Most salespersons out there use emailing potential customers as a marketing weapon to achieve as many sales as possible. But, is it truly a weapon? How many of those sent emails have been marked as unread? And how many more have gloriously entered the spam inbox? If we were to read them..the answer would be a lot.

Even so, they can still be considered a powerful weapon..if the weapon is being held by the right heads. To put it simply—a sales email is efficient ONLY if it is well-written. What does well-written mean? It means—

  • Attention-grabbing
  • Solution provider
  • Engaging

Now, let me give you an example. Please, take a look at the picture below.

 

Did you look at it? Carefully?

What is the first question that pops into your head?

I’m just asking…because mine is „What TF is this email copy?!”

First things first, the subject line has nothing to do with the content. Yes, it might be attention-grabbing, it might make the reader actually open the email, but soon enough it will backfire. Why so? Well, let’s put ourselves in the mind of the reader. It’s morning, we are just sipping our coffee, we open our inbox and we see this subject line. What is the first thing that comes to our mind? For me it’s something regarding charity. Even though for you it might be something else, I bet it’s at least slightly related to my chain of thoughts. Let’s continue. We open the email and we start reading. And baaammm! A damn SEO guy trying to prove me God knows what. I am like „Dude, really?!”

Then, he starts rambling about why is he so good in comparison to his competitors. He brags about his customers (let’s be honest, from what he wrote, he could have had just 3 customers, of course the turn-over rate is low, duuhh!), trying to sugar coat me with some „Great Expectations” theory. Jeez, Charles Dickens wouldn’t be proud, son.

We thrashed the poor guy enough. Let’s see how we can turn a lame sales email into something better.

„From:…..

Subject: We Need to Meet!

Hi, (customer’s name)!

I hope you are having a great day!

I am sending you this email because I just stumbled upon your website and I wanted to congratulate you for the design! It really is eye-cathing, I’ll give you that.

Though, there was one thing that caught my attention and..not in so much of a positive way—the content. You convey such vivid images, yet so unimpressive copy. It’s such a shame! I am not sure how your website could ever get amongst the first searches inside the chaotic Internet space. I would highly suggest you contact a SEO specialist whom can strategically rebuild your website. And, fortunately for you, I happen to be one. I can already imagine how much more attention-grabbing your website would be with just a simple twist of wording.

If you would like us to discuss some more about how can we make your website a true state-of-the-art, let’s grab a coffee together. I have a feeling we’ll get along really well. I can already sense the sweet smell of success! Monday morning at 10.30 a.m sounds good?

I looking forward to working together!

Cheers,

Signature”

 

How does this puppy sound, hmm? Better? Let me emphasise what I changed.

The headline—it conveys the idea of urgency and it does match the content. In the end, I proposed a meeting.

The first line is a greeting. I am trying to set a positive note to the entire email. Starting good usually ends up good as well.

The second line—I state the reason for emailing while complimenting the prospect and making him flexible enough for the offer.

The third line—I induce the need of change by comparing the good and the bad, this way creating some tension in the prospect, making him question the quality of his product; after doing that, I offer my service in a sleek manner.

The fourth line is the actual call to action. I am being authoritative by setting the meeting, I transpire confidence. And then again, by using „Cheers” I return to positive vibe which help in making the email sound like a real conversation, making the prospect feel more comfortable and more approachable.

5. Web Page

Yeah, copywriting is everywhere, I know. Web pages and web content are not so different either. Is the same purpose no matter of the package it’s wrapped it. Without any further due, let’s take a closer look at this greeting web page.

I kinda dig the first line, but..it’s empty of content! I don’t understand what are they offering me exactly. What is their product and how will their product change my life?! If you see it, please let me know in the comments below. They use adjectives in order to emphasise themselves too much. In addition, that „Get to Know Us” doesn’t really appeal to me. I mean, I would rather get to know your product if you know what I’m saying..

Enough rambling (I always tend to so it, shut me up in the comments, please!). Let’s fix the business. Literally.

 

Build a Better Website.

 Build a Better Business.

We’re Digital Artisans. Our expert team is dedicated to crafting bespoke websites & apps       with the purpose of boosting your sales, increasing your visibility and attracting loyal customers.

Sounds interesting? Let’s know each other more.

Schedule a 30 minutes free consultation.”

Let’s see what I changed and why I did it—

  1. I just wrote more—customers need to know what can they get, what is the product and most importantly, how can that product change their business into something better;
  2. I stressed the idea of “us” instead of “me” by using the phrase “Let’s know each other more”—this is all about interaction, about showing genuine interest and commitment to your client;
  3. I offered value in advance—by offering a 30 min free consultation I increase my credibility.

So, I guess this is it. I hope you enjoyed the article and learned some things here and there.

If you have some more advice, please tell us in the comments below. 🙂

 

 

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