Clever wording

Now then … there’s a shopping centre in Wimbledon in South London called, with understandable opportunism, Centre Court (it’s a centre, it’s a court, it’s in a centre, and what’s Wimbledon famous for that also has a centre court? – advantage, town planners!). That’s not the problem. It has been rebranded and now has a tagline. This tagline is, “Irresistibly Local” (see: above). Let’s just have a think about this, as the overpaid marketing ladies and gentlemen obviously didn’t when they thought it up. First of all: it’s a shopping centre in Wimbledon. How can it not be local? Everywhere is local. If it was in Harrogate or Chelmsford or Taunton or Oban it would be local. Just not local to Wimbledon. As such, it’s true. Centre Court is local. It’s not local in any other sense than literal. The shops in it are universal. They are Marks & Spencer and River Island and Gap and Thorntons and H&M and Athena. In what way are they local? Other than they are probably staffed by people from South London?

Now let’s look at the prefix “Irresistibly”. It suggests, well, irresistibility. It’s subjective, but advertising is allowed to be subjective, as long as it isn’t a lie. And for someone – someone who fancies a Thornton’s chocolate and a pair of Gap trousers who finds themselves in the Wimbledon area, say, and it’s raining outside – the prospect of Centre Court might actually be hard to resist. But to call it “Irresistibly Local” is actually insane. How do you resist a building’s locality? Its locality is its locality. It’s not going to move overnight. There would be little point in resisting Centre Court’s locality. You could try going to Centre Court a bit further down the high street, but it would be pointless. (Resistence is, in this case, futile.) Why don’t these flipchart fools think twice before having the corporate livery made up? It’s like the tossed-off results of an Apprentice task.

Here’s the best bit. If you enter Centre Court you will see its opening time displayed on the glass doors. Except these are not just its opening times (9am-7pm), they are, according to the branded notices, its “Irresistible Opening Times”! Resist these times at your peril! Try walking through those doors at five to nine. It’s not going to happen.

On a related note, I notice that Regent Street in Central London has been rebranded. There’s a big “R”, then underneath it says, “Where Time Is Always Well Spent.” OK. This is a bold claim. It would certainly be well spent if you wanted to get from Piccadilly Circus to Regent’s Park, as walking up it would get you there and there’s no straighter route. But to say that it’s always well spent? Well, if you like shopping, I suppose it would be mostly well spent. If, say, you wanted to buy a kilt, or an overpriced toy from Hamleys, or a Thornton’s chocolate you forgot to get in Wimbledon, you could spend it in worse places than Regent Street. But I’ve spent time on Regent Street that I’d like back. I once went to the Disney store on a Sunday with my parents and it wasn’t open, so we had to stand outside and wait for it to open. That wasn’t time well spent.

I looked Regent Street’s rebranding up on the Internet, and I’m afraid what I found doesn’t quell my ire for those people who are paid to embroider with the English language until a mundane thing seems that little bit more … I don’t know, American.

Under the heading, Branding Strategy – Executive Summary, we find that The Crown Estate, who must own the street, has “a vision” that will “ensure that Regent Street evolves to be a place for people, a place for retail and a place for business.” As opposed to what it was before? A place for livestock, a place for bingo and a place for see-saws? “The brand and its identity provide a vehicle that will enable that vision to be realised by reinforcing and communicating Regent Street as a unique destination, attracting shoppers, retailers, businesses and visitors to the area throughout the day and well into the evening.” Fair enough, but isn’t time always well spent there? Surely when the shops are closed the value of time spent there tails off a bit. It get worse. “The brand highlights and promotes Regent Street as a fusion of contrasts ie. the contrast between the traditional architecture and contemporary retail, the cosmopolitan and community spirit, business and pleasure, buzz and relaxation.” Oh do give over.

“These contrasts are best described in the brand essence: Always. Different.” The marketeers help us out here by explaing what “Always” and “Different” mean, which I won’t trouble you with. Anyhoo, “the brand essence of Regent Street is communicated through the logo, colours, typeface and strapline: the ‘R’ is composed of Bodoni, one of the oldest typefaces in existence and the re-drawn tail of the ‘R’ symbolises the famous Regent Street curved sweep; by redrawing the R and adding the flash of colour, the contrasts of Traditional and Contemporary convey the essence: Always. Different.”

Oh, it ends with near-priapic talk of “a three-stage evolutionary rollout programme for the brand”, including a “stakeholder soft launch”, after which I needed a lie down. It’s Irresistibly Bollocks.

52 thoughts on “Clever wording

  1. When I come out of Kings Cross station I’m sometimes greeted by posters featuring artfully cropped, sun-dappled images of the British library, the Regent canal, St Pancras station and other local features. The line on the posters says “Kings Cross – take another look”. These would make more sense if they were placed somewhere other than Kings Cross, which is one of London’s less pleasing prospects.

  2. When I come out of Kings Cross station I’m sometimes greeted by posters featuring artfully cropped, sun-dappled images of the British library, the Regent canal, St Pancras station and other local features. The line on the posters says “Kings Cross – take another look”. These would make more sense if they were placed somewhere other than Kings Cross, which is one of London’s less pleasing prospects.

  3. Having recently left South London for Glasgow we were comforted to see that bollocks-speak isn’t just the preserve of the capital. The local road safety slogan which sits on EVERY local town sign is Thrivin’ on Safe Drivin’.Firstly, how can a town thrive on safe driving? Secondly, this is a slogan not a Jerry Lee Lewis song, bring back those missing letters. Thirdly, rant rave grump etc etc etc

  4. Having recently left South London for Glasgow we were comforted to see that bollocks-speak isn’t just the preserve of the capital. The local road safety slogan which sits on EVERY local town sign is Thrivin’ on Safe Drivin’.Firstly, how can a town thrive on safe driving? Secondly, this is a slogan not a Jerry Lee Lewis song, bring back those missing letters. Thirdly, rant rave grump etc etc etc

  5. one of the nicest road safety signs i saw was in Antigua, which read.”Drive safe.You is expected home”which has a rather nice 2.4 children ring to it.

  6. one of the nicest road safety signs i saw was in Antigua, which read.”Drive safe.You is expected home”which has a rather nice 2.4 children ring to it.

  7. All marketing is basically bollocks, these days. My wife’s in marketing and she agrees. London is rife with it – Bow Quarter, Theatreland, Wandsworth – The Brighter Borough!, etc. Now there’re trying to make Heddon Street off Regent Street Food Quarter or something silly. Who falls for this shit?

  8. All marketing is basically bollocks, these days. My wife’s in marketing and she agrees. London is rife with it – Bow Quarter, Theatreland, Wandsworth – The Brighter Borough!, etc. Now there’re trying to make Heddon Street off Regent Street Food Quarter or something silly. Who falls for this shit?

  9. My sister once came up with a brilliant and on-the-nail slogan for a large town in Bedfordshire, but strangely, ‘Luton: It’s Shit’ never really took off.All this terrible marketing of lookalike town and shopping centres depresses the pants off me. Those of us still able should avoid them at all costs and support our local independent stores whilst they’re still here.

  10. My sister once came up with a brilliant and on-the-nail slogan for a large town in Bedfordshire, but strangely, ‘Luton: It’s Shit’ never really took off.All this terrible marketing of lookalike town and shopping centres depresses the pants off me. Those of us still able should avoid them at all costs and support our local independent stores whilst they’re still here.

  11. Good write-up Andrew. It’s the guff that they peddle in TV adverts that always amuses me. e.g. Hugo Boss’ “Your fragrance. Your rules”. Means nothing to me. And what exactly is a “pentopeptide”?

  12. Good write-up Andrew. It’s the guff that they peddle in TV adverts that always amuses me. e.g. Hugo Boss’ “Your fragrance. Your rules”. Means nothing to me. And what exactly is a “pentopeptide”?

  13. Well, the public fall for this shit. Marketing is there to sell stuff, and it gets harder and harder to do that in any other way than “buy this, it’s good, and reasonably priced. It will make your life easier.” I am a graphic designer, and sometimes get involved in a bit of copywriting, and I’m surprised that both you and Mr Hepworth – having both been involved in selling stuff for your careers – have come over all “OI! MARKETING PEOPLE! NOOOO!” I’m sure you have both written some bollocks at some point. I know I have. Mind you, I’d be embarassed to have to pitch “Irresistably Local” to a client.You seem to be a bit grumpy this week, Andrew! Oh, and off topic – finally got to see the first episode of The Wire this week. I now have four seasons to catch up with, although I don’t think I’ll try it all in, wait for it, one day!!!!StephenC

  14. Well, the public fall for this shit. Marketing is there to sell stuff, and it gets harder and harder to do that in any other way than “buy this, it’s good, and reasonably priced. It will make your life easier.” I am a graphic designer, and sometimes get involved in a bit of copywriting, and I’m surprised that both you and Mr Hepworth – having both been involved in selling stuff for your careers – have come over all “OI! MARKETING PEOPLE! NOOOO!” I’m sure you have both written some bollocks at some point. I know I have. Mind you, I’d be embarassed to have to pitch “Irresistably Local” to a client.You seem to be a bit grumpy this week, Andrew! Oh, and off topic – finally got to see the first episode of The Wire this week. I now have four seasons to catch up with, although I don’t think I’ll try it all in, wait for it, one day!!!!StephenC

  15. I just assumed all the taglines and slogans were there purely to give us a laugh – what other possible reason could there be for them?Wendell – if you think Andrew is grumpy, it’s probably because he is doing the late shows on 6 Music.

  16. I just assumed all the taglines and slogans were there purely to give us a laugh – what other possible reason could there be for them?Wendell – if you think Andrew is grumpy, it’s probably because he is doing the late shows on 6 Music.

  17. Spot on, Clare! I’m delighted to be back on 6 Music this week, but the late nights do take their toll on someone who likes to be tucked up in bed by 11.30.I have been meaning to write up “Irresistibly Local” since I first saw it a few weeks ago, however. It was passing the Regent St one on the way home from 6 Music the other night that inspired me to get on with it.I’m sure Dave will admit to having written some bollocks before in the name of marketing. I daresay I used some hyperbole on the front cover of Q, but I hope it was done with tongue in cheek. We did actually call Kula Shaker “The World’s Most Exciting Band!” on the cover, but we prefixed it with “Blimey!” in the spirit of Smash Hits, so I think everyone knew where we were coming from. It’s all a long way from the marketing of streets and towns though, which I’m afraid brings out the worst in those whose job it is to conjure with words.I don’t like the tone of your remark, “the public fall for this shit,” Wendell! That rather suggests an element of patronising disdain for your customer. Also, if someone goes shopping on Regent St, I don’t think it’s really because they “fell for” the line, “Where Time Is Always Well Spent.” It’s because they went shopping. What bothers me is the sheer quantity of bollocks that exists between life and the way life is sold to us.Not that I blame you for any of this, Wendell. Enjoy The Wire, you lucky person.

  18. Spot on, Clare! I’m delighted to be back on 6 Music this week, but the late nights do take their toll on someone who likes to be tucked up in bed by 11.30.I have been meaning to write up “Irresistibly Local” since I first saw it a few weeks ago, however. It was passing the Regent St one on the way home from 6 Music the other night that inspired me to get on with it.I’m sure Dave will admit to having written some bollocks before in the name of marketing. I daresay I used some hyperbole on the front cover of Q, but I hope it was done with tongue in cheek. We did actually call Kula Shaker “The World’s Most Exciting Band!” on the cover, but we prefixed it with “Blimey!” in the spirit of Smash Hits, so I think everyone knew where we were coming from. It’s all a long way from the marketing of streets and towns though, which I’m afraid brings out the worst in those whose job it is to conjure with words.I don’t like the tone of your remark, “the public fall for this shit,” Wendell! That rather suggests an element of patronising disdain for your customer. Also, if someone goes shopping on Regent St, I don’t think it’s really because they “fell for” the line, “Where Time Is Always Well Spent.” It’s because they went shopping. What bothers me is the sheer quantity of bollocks that exists between life and the way life is sold to us.Not that I blame you for any of this, Wendell. Enjoy The Wire, you lucky person.

  19. Ah, the nuances of the written word… I was simply replying to ‘five-centres’ comment of “who falls for this shit?”, maybe I should have put “this shit” in speech marks to show I was quoting. I love doing what I do, and find trying to come up with something that promotes an event/item/service a fun challenge. Today, it’s healthy crisps, yesterday a printers. How about “Centre Court – Ace Service” or “Centre Court – Love Shopping” or… I’ll get my coat.I’m just listening again to last nights show (I’d never considered a kebab as some sort of foreplay before!) because I spent last night watching the channel 4 programme about East 17 reforming. I’m still not quite sure whether it (and in fact, thier whole ‘career’) was some sort of spoof from Christopher Guest…StephenC

  20. Ah, the nuances of the written word… I was simply replying to ‘five-centres’ comment of “who falls for this shit?”, maybe I should have put “this shit” in speech marks to show I was quoting. I love doing what I do, and find trying to come up with something that promotes an event/item/service a fun challenge. Today, it’s healthy crisps, yesterday a printers. How about “Centre Court – Ace Service” or “Centre Court – Love Shopping” or… I’ll get my coat.I’m just listening again to last nights show (I’d never considered a kebab as some sort of foreplay before!) because I spent last night watching the channel 4 programme about East 17 reforming. I’m still not quite sure whether it (and in fact, thier whole ‘career’) was some sort of spoof from Christopher Guest…StephenC

  21. Some bright spark has decided that Fort William is “The Outdoor Capital of The UK”, make of that what you will.Not entirely sure what the Indoor Capital of the UK looks like, but I reckon it’s a damn sight more interesting than Fort William. Come friendly bombs…

  22. Some bright spark has decided that Fort William is “The Outdoor Capital of The UK”, make of that what you will.Not entirely sure what the Indoor Capital of the UK looks like, but I reckon it’s a damn sight more interesting than Fort William. Come friendly bombs…

  23. Scotland is rather good at these pointless slogans, the top two being the blatantly untrue “Life is for Livingston”, and that timeless classic “What’s it called? Cumbernauld”. A place so bad even the marketeers couldn’t think of anything to say about it.

  24. Scotland is rather good at these pointless slogans, the top two being the blatantly untrue “Life is for Livingston”, and that timeless classic “What’s it called? Cumbernauld”. A place so bad even the marketeers couldn’t think of anything to say about it.

  25. I’m with Bill Hicks on this one.“If you work in marketing, kill yourself. Do it now, I’m not joking. Kill yourself.”Ooh, glad I got that off my chest. Now off to cook dinner! 😉

  26. I’m with Bill Hicks on this one.“If you work in marketing, kill yourself. Do it now, I’m not joking. Kill yourself.”Ooh, glad I got that off my chest. Now off to cook dinner! 😉

  27. The slogan for Radio Humberside on RDS text used to be (and may still be), “We’re the one you listen to.” I’m guessing they came up with that one themselves.

  28. The slogan for Radio Humberside on RDS text used to be (and may still be), “We’re the one you listen to.” I’m guessing they came up with that one themselves.

  29. Dom:The Athena / Wimbledon crossover surely was firmly established by their biggest claim to fame: that picture of a young lady tennis player scratching her arse…on topic: marketing talk is painful bollocks, agreed.

  30. Dom:The Athena / Wimbledon crossover surely was firmly established by their biggest claim to fame: that picture of a young lady tennis player scratching her arse…on topic: marketing talk is painful bollocks, agreed.

  31. Betsie has just reminded me of another 2 fine examples of Scottish Tourist Board slogans, the never popular “Scotland’s For Me” on a National level, and the Fort William and Lochaber Tourist Board’s “It’s Great Up Here” campaign in the late 1980’s, fronted by Sarah Kennedy, pictured half way up a mountain.

  32. Betsie has just reminded me of another 2 fine examples of Scottish Tourist Board slogans, the never popular “Scotland’s For Me” on a National level, and the Fort William and Lochaber Tourist Board’s “It’s Great Up Here” campaign in the late 1980’s, fronted by Sarah Kennedy, pictured half way up a mountain.

  33. Oh yeah, I meant to say that if the best thing the marketing people can find to stress about your shopping centre is that it’s local then you might want to hire someone else. Seriously, the best they’ve got to offer is, “We’re nearer than other shops.” Which also means, by implication, “Don’t bother coming here if you have to pass another shopping centre on the way.” Good advice but bad marketing, surely?

  34. Oh yeah, I meant to say that if the best thing the marketing people can find to stress about your shopping centre is that it’s local then you might want to hire someone else. Seriously, the best they’ve got to offer is, “We’re nearer than other shops.” Which also means, by implication, “Don’t bother coming here if you have to pass another shopping centre on the way.” Good advice but bad marketing, surely?

  35. Luton’s current slogan seems to be something like “Home of the Arndale”!! They’re clearly very near to Clair’s sister more succinct approach. I’ve assumed this is actually a brilliant ploy to reduce congestion by encouraging people to give it a wide berth. Coincidentally (or is it?) they’re currently building another bypass!

  36. Luton’s current slogan seems to be something like “Home of the Arndale”!! They’re clearly very near to Clair’s sister more succinct approach. I’ve assumed this is actually a brilliant ploy to reduce congestion by encouraging people to give it a wide berth. Coincidentally (or is it?) they’re currently building another bypass!

  37. Best slogan I ever saw was when exiting Doncaster train station a few years ago and a poster on the wall claimed the following…”Doncaster – attempting to do for entertainment what Carlisle achieved last year”.

  38. Best slogan I ever saw was when exiting Doncaster train station a few years ago and a poster on the wall claimed the following…”Doncaster – attempting to do for entertainment what Carlisle achieved last year”.

  39. Have you seen Kilburn’s recent branding campaign? I think the signs are still up on the street post. “The Closer You Look, the Better it Gets”. Now, that’s depressing! How close do you have to get? And “Better” relative to what? Love the column.

  40. Have you seen Kilburn’s recent branding campaign? I think the signs are still up on the street post. “The Closer You Look, the Better it Gets”. Now, that’s depressing! How close do you have to get? And “Better” relative to what? Love the column.

  41. Hello?This thread’s a few days old now, so I don’t know if anyone’s out there still reading it, and I’ve just got back off hols, so here is my contribution.Many readers, even the ones not from Birmingham, might have heard that the Bull Ring area of Birmingham recently had and extensive renovation. They pulled down the literally falling apart 60s shopping centre complex and rerouted the ring road around the outside of a newly designed and landscaped open space, centred on the old St Martin’s church, and featuring the love-it-or-hate-it visually stunning Selfridges sea monster building. They also hid all of the usual chain stores in a large shopping mall.There are two points here. The first is that the redesign of the whole area was very well done, and it is now an entirely pleasant place to hang about or walk through, which was not the case before. In language they understand, they have “added value”, so well done, and thanks. The second point is that this area has been a market place since the twelfth century, and has been known as the Bull Ring for hundreds of years. But the marketeers have renamed the mall Bullring – all one word. No doubt it sounded more contemporary. It’s such a small change, but I detest it, and all that it represents. At least the vast majority of the local population continue to use the full three word name: the Bull Ring.EpilogueI thought I was done, but decided to check out the “Bullring” website, and look what I found:And more than 25 restaurants for you to revitalise yourself in.We don’t eat in restaurants any more, we revitalise ourselves.

  42. Hello?This thread’s a few days old now, so I don’t know if anyone’s out there still reading it, and I’ve just got back off hols, so here is my contribution.Many readers, even the ones not from Birmingham, might have heard that the Bull Ring area of Birmingham recently had and extensive renovation. They pulled down the literally falling apart 60s shopping centre complex and rerouted the ring road around the outside of a newly designed and landscaped open space, centred on the old St Martin’s church, and featuring the love-it-or-hate-it visually stunning Selfridges sea monster building. They also hid all of the usual chain stores in a large shopping mall.There are two points here. The first is that the redesign of the whole area was very well done, and it is now an entirely pleasant place to hang about or walk through, which was not the case before. In language they understand, they have “added value”, so well done, and thanks. The second point is that this area has been a market place since the twelfth century, and has been known as the Bull Ring for hundreds of years. But the marketeers have renamed the mall Bullring – all one word. No doubt it sounded more contemporary. It’s such a small change, but I detest it, and all that it represents. At least the vast majority of the local population continue to use the full three word name: the Bull Ring.EpilogueI thought I was done, but decided to check out the “Bullring” website, and look what I found:And more than 25 restaurants for you to revitalise yourself in.We don’t eat in restaurants any more, we revitalise ourselves.

  43. At least they opted to retain a capital “B”. Imagine the fevered debate there must have been as to whether to “go lower case”.I was quietly heartened as well to see that Andrew, correctly, used a capital “I” for Internet. Sir, we are a dying breed.

  44. At least they opted to retain a capital “B”. Imagine the fevered debate there must have been as to whether to “go lower case”.I was quietly heartened as well to see that Andrew, correctly, used a capital “I” for Internet. Sir, we are a dying breed.

  45. As a Scot “abroad”, I find it very depressing how bad some Scottish slogans are. Some 20 years ago the buses in Glasgow were embellished with a cartoon image of a bus with the slogan “I’m yer wee happy bus”. (Infantilisation in advertising’s been around for some time)However, at the opposite end is Mair’s, the family-run potato merchant who’s slogan is, simply, “Eat Mair tatties!”. Surely a work of genius and almost certainly not the work of a “creative”.(Andrew – Being from N’pton you must be aware of the Knight family from the village of Old, whose haulage company is “Knights of Old”)

  46. As a Scot “abroad”, I find it very depressing how bad some Scottish slogans are. Some 20 years ago the buses in Glasgow were embellished with a cartoon image of a bus with the slogan “I’m yer wee happy bus”. (Infantilisation in advertising’s been around for some time)However, at the opposite end is Mair’s, the family-run potato merchant who’s slogan is, simply, “Eat Mair tatties!”. Surely a work of genius and almost certainly not the work of a “creative”.(Andrew – Being from N’pton you must be aware of the Knight family from the village of Old, whose haulage company is “Knights of Old”)

Do leave a reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.