Copywriting Gone Awry…and a Reminder that Content ALWAYS Counts, Even on a Coupon!

receipts as copywriting samplesBetween my various roles as freelance copywriter, wanna be farmer, wife and mother, I rarely take time to blog but I regularly find things to blog about, and those are quite often copywriting gone awry.

The pile of coupons in front of me offers several examples of content gone awry. Yesterday’s trip to the grocery store–the one I do once a week to stock the kitchen–left me with four of those receipt coupon thingies…you know, the ones that print out with your receipt so that the cashier hands you a wad of paper instead of just one. At right is a picture of the four I got yesterday, and I apologize for the poor quality of the picture. My iPhone has been dropped so many times, the camera on it can’t take a clear picture for anything. But I hope you can see these well enough, and all of the copywriting referenced is included below. :-)

So what’s amusing to me here is the quality of the copywriting or lack thereof. Two of these don’t have any copywriting, just words on a page. The first is for a feminine product, but I thought it was for a running shirt because the picture is of a shirt you’d run in and the caption is “Quickly wicks away moisture to keep you dry” which a shirt would do while exercising, right? The only way I know this is for a feminine product is because that product is Stayfree. But the photo makes it look like the sanitary napkins or whatever we call them these days are made from the shirt. And then there’s the little circle that says “Therma Control” and I have NO idea what that has to do with feminine hygiene!

The pink receipt is not much better. It’s for Carefree (and please don’t ask me why I got two related coupons during a shopping trip that involved no feminine hygiene products whatsoever!). It shows underwear hanging up. OK, I can kind of get that. And the caption is relevant (unlike in the first example), except for there are two, one on top of the other, and both are a call to action:

Feel fresh with our soft, thin,
absorbent daily liners.
Try Carefree Acti-Fresh.


Which one am I supposed to do? Try the daily liner? Or try the Acti-Fresh? I am confused! And the photo of underwear hanging on the clothesline doesn’t help!

The third coupon has copywriting that makes sense to me because “Bake Some Love” is a tagline I know because I bake a lot of chocolate chip cookies! Plus the pictures make sense and it’s straightforward. The “save money” part is front and center.

But the fourth coupon, the one that’s vertical in the picture, has the best copywriting of all. And what’s it for? Your flu shot. It says simply:

Get your flue shot at Carrs/Safeway and save 10% on groceries.

What do people say nowadays? “Bam!”? That’s what this is: It’s copywriting that’s direct and I get it at a glance.

These are coupons, sure, just little pieces of throw away paper that came with my grocery store receipt. But if the manufacturer isn’t willing to invest in copywriting that makes sense on these coupons, why even spend the money to produce them in the first place? The blue coupon says I can save a $1 but on what I don’t know. The pink coupon says I will save 55 cents, but again on what I don’t know. Simply offering me a discount is not going to entice me to save a coupon for my next shopping trip when I don’t even know what the discount is for, nor have I seen any compelling reasons to buy the product! I wish these companies had saved money on this form of advertising and invested in some better copywriting instead, because neither of these coupons will be used.

I probably will be buying chocolate chips and getting a flu shot, however!

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