Is This the Worst Piece of Copywriting Ever?
As a fellow professional, I wouldn’t dream of targeting another writer and publicly criticising their work. However, I’m 99% sure that the worst piece of copywriting ever is the product of a meddling committee, rather than an individual. It is only 14 words long, but you get the feeling its creator was so bombarded with ‘tweaks’ from their superiors that what is left is only distantly related to the first draft.
The Winner of the Prize for Worst Piece of Copywriting Ever
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the box for Tesco’s Blueberry Wheats:
Yes, that really does say:
“Breakfast is said to be one of the most important meals of the day”
We all know exactly what the original copywriter wanted to say. It clearly began as “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” which is a great, direct sell to anyone considering buying cereal, as well as being a recognised phrase.
Why someone has felt the need to water it down with not one, but two qualifiers, is anyone’s guess. The fact that breakfast is now only “one of the” most important meals a day and, even then, it is not definitely one of them, it’s only “said” to be, makes it hilariously wishy-washy.
If they had stuck to the original statement, were they worried about hoards of angry lunch fans flooding the complaints desk at the Advertising Standards Agency, furious at this unchecked pro-breakfast propaganda? Do the people behind the packaging of Tesco Blueberry Wheats also have a conflicting interest in dinnertime? This could go all the way to the top.
The Worst Bit
If they didn’t want the hassle of having to prove breakfast really is the most important meal of the day (although, I’m not sure who was going to challenge them), they could have stuck with “Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day”. It is true – I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it – people definitely say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – even if you can find argument with breakfast’s importance, you have to admit that people certainly claim that it is important.
Why did they feel the need to add “one of the most important meals”? There are only three meals a day and they’re not even committing to it being number one! That doesn’t sell breakfast to me at all.
Tranmere Rovers are one of the three most important professional football clubs on Merseyside but, with minimal disrespect to the Prenton Park outfit, given a free choice, most people would head to Anfield or Goodison Park on a Saturday afternoon. Paul Gallagher is one of the three most important Gallagher brothers, but you’d choose the new albums from Noel or Liam over anything their elder sibling released. Is breakfast the Paul Gallagher and Tranmere Rovers of meals or is it the Liam and Liverpool? It isn’t clear.
Content Writing for Your Website
The problem with these 14 words is that they ruin the ‘sell’ by being so muddled. It’s a single sentence that twists and turns so many times the point they are trying to make is lost. Writing that is meant to sell a product or concept, whether it is on cereal packaging or in a blog on your business website needs to be direct, it has to tell people exactly what they need to do, with no confusion. Otherwise the words are wasted and become part of the decoration and nothing more.
I write entertaining, informative and SEO-focused blog posts and static content for businesses, and I guarantee the bit intended to turn your readers into customers will be as clear and direct as possible.
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Wow, there was a lot of pressure on that last sentence after what I’d written above it.
The Second Worst Piece of Copywriting Ever
Whilst you’re here, do you want to know the second worst piece of copywriting ever? It comes from the same packet:
“Breakfast cereals are a quick and delicious way to eat breakfast”
I’d agree that breakfast cereals are a quick and delicious choice at breakfast, however I don’t find them that handy as a way to eat breakfast. I prefer to use a spoon.