Friday, September 2, 2011

How to use twitter, by Hayes Thompson. Part 1

Go to the second box down on the right hand side entitled 'Who to follow'.

1. Click on the suggestions to see whether you would be interested in following those people or not.

2. Click 'refresh' to see new suggestions.

3. Repeat steps one and two until twitter suggests you follow Cheryl Cole and Tulisa from N-Dubz.

4. Click the small 'x' button on the ride to make sure twitter never suggests you follow these people again.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We're open until the letters fly off this sign

Before Hurricane Irene/English humour

Via Copyranter

After Hurricane Irene/English humour

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Apostrophe catastrophe

Pic via @Hellocreatives. Created by @willrolls

On the day that the BBC ran a story (you probably remember it) about how poor spelling is costing millions in online sales, I also came across a interesting kinetic typography presentation featuring Stephen Fry talking about language.

I’ll link to it at the bottom, 1] so you can read the rest of this post comfortably and 2] so we end on a more positive note because, let’s face it, worrying about little marks that come before and after ‘S’s and in between ‘N’s and ‘T’s is a tad anal.

But while Stephen Fry as ever makes a brilliant case, businesses do need to take more care about their copy.

I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’m a copywriter and so that’s how I make a living – by helping businesses talk proper/better/nicely.

And there are a whole lot of other important points to consider when it comes to your written communication, like clarity, interestingness and persuasiveness.

But you just can’t aim for perfection without caring about the basics, and so every business should be getting basic grammar and punctuation right.

My favourite (yes, you might call me a word geek, although I’d never use the word ‘geek’ to describe myself – it’s just too ugly) mistake I’ve seen is this:

The do’s and don’ts of...

I love it because people who write this make the mistake on the word ‘do’, but never do on the word ‘don’t’, presumably because it already has an apostrophe, as if one of the rules is ‘never, ever have two apostrophes in the same word’, which, by the way, you never should, it’s probably just that it’s so freaking obvious, there just isn’t a rule.

And today, almost unbelievably, but no less comically, the following two phrases are twitter trending topics:

A’s and B’s


You couldn’t make it up. Well you could, if you were really shit at apostrophes, which it seems a lot of people are.

Now I’m not really a snob. Really I’m not. I even like Dan Brown novels because I’d rather read a good story than a literary masterpiece (or does that just make me uncultured?). But I reckon businesses should really, really make sure their copy plays by the rules.

Why? Because you want intelligent people and people who care to have trust in your company – and why should they do that if you can’t even be bothered to write properly?

But then, I would say that wouldn’t I?

Now time to get inspired by language:

The 2nd longest advertising hoarding in the world

Unofficially, that is.

But even at 800m, it's not really an attempt at a world record.

More that the advertising hoarding in question runs around the outside of the recycling centre for Masdar City, one of the world's most sustainable developments - so you'd expect it to be big.

It's a bit of cheat because there's 'only' 400m of English copy, with 400m translated into Arabic (Masdar City, in case you haven't heard, is in Abu Dhabi).

Still, it was fun to work on and while Masdar doesn't pump out much pollution, it does generate some pretty impressive statistics.

For example, the aluminium the city commissions in its own build produces just 12% of the carbon emissions of the regular kind.

I could go on, but no amount of copy I write here could compete. Who said long copy was dead?

More on the Masdar story

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Poor kids

I once suggested the headline 'Poor donkey' for a SPANA press ad, to raise money to help working animals in some of the world's poorest countries.

Bluefrog head of copy, Aline Reed, told me the client wouldn't go for it so I tried again and we ran with something like 'Goes on for weeks before collapsing. Saved in minutes with your help'.

Then we tested a reportage copy style vs a testimonial style and the latter did much better. It was an important lesson on the power of this first-person technique.

Suffering donkeys can't tell you how they feel. Suffering kids can. If you didn't see BBC3's documentary 'Poor Kids' this week, then you need to watch it using the iPlayer link below.

Three of the 3.5 million children living below the poverty line in the UK give their thoughts on their situation and their future prospects.

You'll discover a lot more shocking statistics about great Britain. And you'll hate energy companies and banks even more than you already do (why should the poorest people pay the most for their fuel and finance?)

These kids are incredible. They deserve to grow into incredible adults. Watch the programme and see for yourself.

Watch Poor Kids on iPlayer

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cycle-in cinema

At some point in the future, we'll have to power stuff like this *grumbles and shuffles off to get pipe and slippers.

For now, though, it's a bit of fun.

And not a brand in sight.

Powered by YOU (Amen to that).

A Town Called Panic, London W10, Sunday, 31 July, 2011, 7.30pm (bring a bike)

organised by Magnificent Revolution

Monday, May 2, 2011

Town Abbottobad - a poem by Major Sir James Abbott

I remember the day when I first came here
And smelt the sweet Abbottabad air
The trees and ground covered with snow
Gave us indeed a brilliant white glow
To me place seemed like a dream
And far ran a lonesome stream
The wind hissed as if welcoming us
The pine swayed creating a lot of fuss
And the tiny cuckoo sang it away
A song very melodious and gay
I adored the place from the first sight
And was happy that my coming here was right
And eight good years here passed very soon
And we leave our perhaps on a sunny day
Oh! Abbottabad we are leaving you now
To your natural beauty do I bow
Perhaps your wind's sound will never reach my ear
My gift for you is a tear
I bid you farewell with a heavy heart
Never from my mind will you memories thwart

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Can you translate?

I'm learning to love shit writing.

I don't mean that in a snobbish way. I mean the business and technical jargon you get from people who expect others to try to keep up with it.

They keep writing it, I'll keep translating it. I'm doing it at the moment for a client who is more than able to talk plain English to your face, but when it comes to writing, he talks gibberish.

Some people can't help it, like Police.

Some people should know better, like BBC journalists (I don't know about you but I've also been cringing at the attempts of the BBC, AL Jazeera and Sky to wax lyrical about the devastation in Japan right now).

From a massive tragedy overseas to one a bit closer to home: Smiley Culture died yesterday.

Remember him? He brightened up my world in 1984 and 85. Maybe he brightened up your world, too.

He had a unique and incredible voice and lyrics to match, if you could catch them all.

I've stolen the lyrics to COCKNEY TRANSLATION off one of those lyric websites and have copied and pasted them below. I don't feel guilty (should I?)

Read them. They're hilarious, if not only because he managed to get the phrase 'batty man' into the charts (no. 71). Please don't take offence at that. None is intended.

Before Smiley, here are a couple of translations of my own:

BBC: Smiley Culture made a cameo appearance in the David Bowie film Absolute Beginners in 1986, but failed to achieve mainstream exposure.

Translation: Really? TOTP was underground? You mean just because he didn't cross over like 'celebs' of today? Or are you just trying to hype up the fact that his life didn't always go as smoothly as he might have wanted?

The Police: While we were at the address, an incident occurred during which a 48-year-old man died.

Translation: Your guess is as good as mine.

Cockney Translation

11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,
It's I Smiley Cuulture with the mike in a me hand
Me come to teach you right and not the wrong
In a de Cockney Translation

Cockney's not a Language it is only a slang
And was originated yah so inna England
The first place it was used was over East London
It was respect for the different style pronunciation
But it wasn't really used by any and any man
Me say strictly con-man also the villain
But through me full up of lyrics and education
Right here now you a go get a little translation

Cockney have name like Treey, Arthur and del-boy
We have name like Winston, Lloyd and Leroy
We bawl out YOW! While cockneys say OI!
What cockney call a Jack's we call a Blue Bwoy
Say cockney have mates while we have spar
Cockneylive in a brum while we live in a yard
Say we nyam while cockney gwt capture
Cockney say guv'nor. We say Big Bout ya
In a de Cockney Translation!
In a de Cockney Translation!

Well watch a man..............................
The translation of cockney to understand is easy
So long as you don't deaf and you listen me keenly
You should pick it up likea youth who find some money
Go tell it to your friends also your family
No matter if a English or a Yardy
Ca' you never when them might buck up a cockney
Remember warm dem dem deh man dem don't easy
Dem no fire sling shot a me say strictly double B
Dem run protection racket and control 'nuff C.I.D.

Say cockney fire shooter, We bus' gun
Cockney say tea leaf, We say sticks man
You know dem have wedge while we have corn
Say cockney say be first, my son! We just say Gwan!
Cockney say grass, We say outformer man
When dem talk 'bout iron dem really meam batty man
Rope chain and choparita me say cockney call tom
Say cockney say Old Bill, We dutty Babylon
In a de Cockney Translation!
In a de Cockney Translation!

Well watch a man........................
Slam bam
Jah man
Hear dam

But first let me tell you more about thr cockney
Who live comfortably and have yacht by the sea
And when it come to monry most of then have plenty
But where dum spend it? In de bookie
Lose it all on the dogs or on the gee gees
Or paying off fe dem bribes to the Sweeney
So dem nah go do no time fe no armed robbery
Or catching antthing that fell off the back of a lorry

Slam bam
Jah man
Hear dem
Me strong
Me long
Me at the mike stand
More time
In a dance
Me chat
'Pon a sound

But sometimes me shake out and leave me home town
And that's when me travel a East London
Where I have to speak as a different man
So that the cockney can understand
So black man and white man hear dem fashion

Cockney say scarper, We say scatter
Cockney say rabbit, We chatter
We say bleach, Cockney Knackered!
Cockney say triffic, We say waaacked!

Cockney say blokes, We say guys
Cockney say Alright? We say Ites!
we say pants, Cockney say strides
Sweet as a nut...................... just level vibes. Seen?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

This year goes up to 11

So what?

Well, that's one more than last year, isn't it?