Forces Sauces copy project with bluemarlin agency

Respect Deserved: The Creation of a Brand Hero from bluemarlin on Vimeo.

Just been sent a superb short video that explains some of the thinking behind Forces Sauces. It’s a condiment brand I was lucky enough to work on with the Stoll Foundation and bluemarlin this year, helping with tone of voice guidelines, campaign copy and packaging. Have a look to see how choosing a sauce can mean helping others – especially in the run up to Remembrance Day.


Three rules of good writing

Rules of good writing should help you with anything, from reports, presentations and website creation all the way through to naming and strategy. Finding the set of rules that work for you is essential.

An item came on the news today as I drove to work. British director Christopher Nolan took just 15 minutes to sell his Batman franchise idea to Warner Bros executives. Even though he’s an established figure, and a safe pair of hands, to take a profitable movie series like Batman and twist it to your own plans – it’s a lot to ask in just a quarter of an hour.

The Radio 4 segment quizzed Christopher Hauge, author of Sell your Story in 60 Seconds, and he underlined two ideas that are worth remembering when you’re writing anything.

1. Keep it simple

2. Use a narrative

It seems like it’s so easy, but is it really? How do you strip out what you don’t need and still keep a narrative fresh and interesting? That’s the skill, and it’s easier with practise. When you’re writing presentations, brand strategies, and especially web copy, you need to tell simple stories that can come alive. I’d add one last piece of advice to the list:

3. Be straight

That means honesty, being unpatronising – and being direct. People sniff out weakness when you break this rule – and that means they don’t trust what you’re saying.

Why copywriting is manhunting

Whether you’re writing for the web, desiging content strategy or trying to write presentations, it’s important to go on a manhunt. I’ll tell you why.

Ben Saunders is a British explorer, and he’s just about to set out for the Antarctic to complete the journey that Robert Scott failed to finish. It’s going to be the first time the full return route has been done completely unsupported. Quite a feat, through hundreds of miles of unforgiving, bleak and beautiful country.

On Ben’s blog is an entry by Henry Worsley, a fellow Antarctican who has written a brief guide to the route. What’s fascinating about this is what really captures your attention: not the way he describes the texture of the ice, or the majesty of Mount Erebus, but the tantalising details of massed human presence on the continent.

Worsley mentions four-storey buildings, a bustling airport, container ports, scientists buzzing each other on skidoos – a miniature city on the ice. McMurdo. Against this backdrop, the details of the frozen wastes beyond pale and dim. We want to hear more about the city on the ice, thanks – the snow can wait, as it always has done.

It’s the chase for the human element that causes such fascination, even in the presence of nature’s might. We want to know what the humans are doing there, how they live, how they behave to each other and what they love and hate.

Next time you read something that feels flat or cold, do the manhunt: look for the human in it. Chances are, the writer has been on the frozen wastes rather than toasting his toes in a bowl of warm water back at base.

Authenticity alert!

An example of when headlines go wrong

Always expect insincerity to get spotted

Spotted in this month’s Ocado magazine: the perfect example of how insincerity can get past a lazy subeditor. The subhead for this interview with Mercedes Ngoh reads:

“Alice Hart-Davies chillaxes with the ultimate yoga mama,”

And without a hint of irony.

Ocado magazine is targeting the middle aged, middle class and middle England, but obviously likes to underestimate their judgment. What should have been a fun subheading has veered into the insincere.

Interesting fact: Mercedes Ngoh was the cantina dancer in George Lucas’ special edition of Star Wars. A great piece of information, which they left out of this feature!