Categories
campaign Campaign Fail Copy Marketing

5 ways this HMRC marketing tactic is not okay

IMG_0535
HMRC at the ATM

1. This is not okay because despite it being a threat to tax dodgers, its imagery unambiguously accuses you. It’s aim as a piece of marketing is to deliberately make you feel paranoid.

2. This is not okay because it is intrusive. This tactic has been chosen to threaten you as you are about to embark on the private transaction of getting your cash out. Despite the best efforts of Seth Godin, and his permission-marketing acolytes, we are all accustomed to be interrupted by marketing. But this is just unpleasant.

3. It is not okay because it is straight out of George Orwell. Here is Big Brother’s all-seeing eye representing the state. Does the state really want to be seen like that? Isn’t there another territory this can belong to, that is more positive and less reliant on poorly executed 1984 based-concept?John Hurt as Winston Smith. His own personal sadness helped him

4. It is not okay because of the physical context of the message. You may be getting money to buy some food, a fluffy kitten or something else utterly innocuous. Nevertheless this requires a cash transaction, a vulnerable moment in a busy street or public area. A great moment for the government to threaten you? No, actually.

5. It’s not okay because it creates anxiety. An agency of the state uses the old copywriter’s trick of stating the negative ‘If you’ve declared all your income you have nothing to worry about’. But it seeds the idea of ‘worry’ nevertheless. And even if you take the line at face value it is overpowered by the imagery and headline.

And, by the way, it’s not okay to threaten individuals while vast corporations get away with it. 

Categories
Announcement Copy

Whoah! This Click Bait Will Make Your Head Explode! Number 4 Will Stun You.

The Slow Mo Guys-WaterMelon Exploding-6
This click bait will make your head explode

Like a fish that never learns, I’ve lost count of the times I have swallowed this kind of click bait headline. Here is the click bait headline formula in five easy stages.

1. Opening ejaculation. This mimic the reaction of crazed, bug-eyed excitement the person who has just seen this list of images must emit. Sometimes these ejaculations are inarticulate Wow! or Woahs! If the ejaculation is allowed to forms itself into words then it must reflect how the target audience will speak. So… Too cool! OMG! Awesome!.

2. What it is. Right after this expression of unconstrained excitement you get to the meat of it. Sometimes this can be quite prosaic as in 54 “Colorized” Photos Will Blow You Away. The blow you away part is there because the notion of colourised photographs may have momentarily dampened your clicking ardour.

3. The number.  People love lists, of course, but they also like to know that they are letting themselves in for. The click is a tiny leap of faith, and one only to be taken when you know you are going to get 20 photos of RiRi’s wardrobe malfunctions for example, before we take our life in our hands.

4. The Special One. The final part of this formula is The Special One. I know I promised Number 4 would stun you, but it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it is far enough down the list to keep us scrolling through to reach it. Is it that special? Clue: it ain’t.

5. Click bait tempts us when we are aimless. It isn’t called bait for nothing. There’s a hook in there somewhere, able to snag in and drag us deeper into endless, ever more meaningless lists.

While click bait headlines are an effective formula to meet the standard marketing challenge of having to announce something, they are cheesy. Is it just me, or is this formula already on the wane? One thing’s for sure. There will come a day this click bait formula will seem so quaintly retro, that people will shake their heads in wonder that we ever took the bait.