Tag Archives: Evergreen


Oi, you, look at me

With creative work, whether it’s branding, design or advertising, the most important thing is to be noticed (old skool AIDA). If no one is looking at you, they’ll never see your message, let alone do what you’re trying to influence them to do.

This article, Using every trick in the book to be remembered, from Campaign features some of the common tricks used in TV advertising. Making sure you stand out with your creative is one easy way to make your marketing work harder, which is why I’m always surprised that so many marketing directors are scared of being different from their competition and the market.

Take a position, have an opinion, do something a little unexpected and yes, you might not appeal to everyone but you’ll make those that do like you like you even more, and they’ll be far more likely to be evangelical about your brand. Surely that’s better than blending into the crowd, where nobody notices you and nobody cares?

After all, those brands you admire that you mentioned in your brief probably did something a little different, which is what got you raving about them in the first place. Isn’t it time you joined them?

Stephen Holmes


Sio’s copywriting swipe file #4: Apartment Therapy

Typically, 404 pages fill me with rage and leave me fiddling furiously with the URL until I figure out where some over-worked marketing assistant has forgotten to put a hyphen or backslash. But a nice error message like this one tends to soothe me a tad:

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This one isn’t as much about the copy as it is about the overall concept. It comes courtesy of Apartment Therapy, a ridiculously popular home interiors blog I read sometimes, and the ‘we missed a spot’ idea is cute given the theme. But I really like the consolation links they’ve provided, offering suggestions for finding other lost things, like missing pets and a silent phone. It’s funny, it helps revive old posts (one of them contains a few affiliate links so the extra clicks won’t hurt) and it makes you think they really do feel pretty crap about sending you on a wild goose chase.

Why every brand doesn’t bother crafting a bespoke 404 page I’ll never know. This article gives an interesting little summary of the anatomy of a 404 page, along with some super clever pages like this one from, of course, Virgin Holidays.

And of course if you’re curious, you can go hunting for Bloodybigspider’s 404 page. See you there!

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Sio’s copywriting swipe file #3: Irvin funfairs

Oh hi, readers! Please come and take a stroll with me through my copywriting swipe file on this lovely spring day. Don’t worry if you’re up to your ears in your Wednesday workload, because this is the shortest bit of copy in my folder and we’ll be finished in, oh let’s say four minutes.

A few years ago, the nice people of Irvin Leisure Funfairs (perhaps George Irvin himself!) followed me on Twitter, for reasons I can only imagine. Well, I’m glad they did because their bio became the first entry in my swipe file:

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Isn’t it nice? Their opening line really got my attention: ‘London’s best family funfair with five generations of experience’. Way to squeeze your location, target audience and USP into nine words! I think it’s pretty impressive to be able to say you’ve been running funfairs for five generations; I checked their website and the Irvins have actually been in the ‘travelling amusement’ industry since the mid-1800s, so you probably won’t find many families still in the game who have more expertise than these guys. I also love that family angle, as it suggests this isn’t just a business, it’s something they really care about. Can’t you just picture them sitting in their back garden with G&Ts talking tin can alleys and tea cup rides?

If it were up to me, I’d be more specific about Irvin Leisure’s 19th-century beginnings in that bio – something like London’s best family funfair with five generations and 165 years of experience – because you can’t buy heritage like that. I mean, this is just adorable: ‘After a life of travel and adventure he returned to his native county and married a local girl, then opened a dancing booth at travelling fairs, in which he played the fiddle.’ If I’m looking for a family funfair in London, I’m definitely going to opt for the one that started as a fiddler in a Victorian dancing booth. So the moral of the story is SHOUT about your USP and heritage if you’ve got them, not just in long-form web copy but anywhere you can. Your Twitter bio might be the first thing prospects read about you, so tell them why they should keep reading.

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Sio’s copywriting swipe file #2

Good Tuesday to you, friends. Welcome to the very, very belated second edition of my one-woman blog series, where I grab something nice out of my copywriting swipe file and show you how wonderful it is.

Today: Thai restaurant Bol.an in Bangkok.

Steve and I went to Thailand for New Year, and it was very nice apart from Steve’s allergic reaction after accidentally eating nuts and being confined to bed for basically the whole day. That wasn’t Bo.lan’s fault, though; in fact, we didn’t even go to Bo.lan so it would be very unfair to blame them. The nut thing is irrelevant actually, I was just setting the scene.

Bo.lan is a restaurant that I thought about booking for dinner before we flew to Thailand. In the end, for whatever reason, I didn’t, but I came across this online flyer for a food and beer pairing event there and I pretty much fell in love. It’s not at all in keeping with the restaurant’s overall tone of voice (not judging by the website copy anyway) so I assume it was written by Beervana, the beer people.

Now, I’m not saying this sort of ‘fuck you’ attitude is always the right approach to copywriting. Actually, it’s almost never, ever the right approach if you want to sell stuff and have people like you. But in this case, it is good. So. damn. good.

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Doesn’t it make you really, really want to go to this event? I imagine Marilyn Manson would be manning the cloakroom, Metallica showing you to your table and Ozzy Osbourne directing your attention to the specials board, which would just say ‘you’ll eat what you’re fucking given’. Plus everything would be so spicy you couldn’t even touch it with your tongue, and all the beer would have dead beetles floating on the top.

I WANT TO GO NOW and I don’t even like beer. Or beetles.

This is a classic example of ‘don’t be rude to your customers unless you know they love it’, sort of like Kathryn in Cruel Intentions and Rizzo in Grease.

PS: I was originally listening to some soothing rain sounds while writing this but obviously had to switch over to Black Sabbath because that’s what the devil holding the chilli and the pint would want.

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

unSend: Now there’s no need to cry when you mess up your next email

Loyal BBS fans might remember my blog post a couple of weeks ago about disastrous email personalisation and how terrified I am of subject line typos. So I was pretty intrigued when I read about unSend, an email delivery system that lets you not just recall a message but edit and delete it – even after it’s been opened by the recipient.

When you send an email using unSend, you have three options:

  • Ability to edit and delete your email and any attachments (plus open tracking)
  • Ability to edit and delete attachments only (plus open tracking)
  • Open tracking only

If you go for the first option, which is obviously the best choice for cautious types like me, your text will be converted into an image that’s hosted on unSend’s server, thus giving them the power to make changes on your behalf. Here’s one I made earlier:

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Because it was converted into a jpeg the text looks a little weird, and of course recipients won’t be able to copy and paste if they need to, but it doesn’t look bad and the chances are most people won’t spot that there’s anything suspicious going on at first glance. Oh, until you get to the ‘sent via unSent.it’ line at the end. To remove the ads, you’ve got to fork out $5 a month.

If you go for the second option, your text will be sent as normal but you can’t edit it. You can only delete or edit your attachments.

The last option won’t let you edit anything, but it does track email opens for you, which is definitely handy.

Oh, and if you’re a spy who needs to send top secret documents to other spies, there’s a ‘self destruct’ mode available too.

Thanks to Linda who talked about unSend on her awesome blog, The Renegade Writer, today. She goes into much more detail than I have here.

Overall unSend is pretty limited and you wouldn’t use it for a marketing or sales email campaign, but it’s an interesting idea and if you’re super paranoid about typos or accidentally attaching the wrong file, it could be useful.


Siobhan O'Brien Holmes