I love collecting quirky, misphrased copywriting and my recent trip to India was a great source of inspiration. Copywriting blunders can sometimes be witty, poetic or even sentimental.
Have you ever heard of the concept of found poetry? It’s a poem that’s made by taking words and phrases from other sources and reframing them, by changing the structure or adding and deleting lines, giving it new meaning. This is what got me interested in the concept of found copywriting. I wonder what compelling copywriting can we create if we re-use copy from other sources and give it new context?
I found my favourite piece of copywriting in the Himalayan mountains on a recent trip to India. A road sign that begged: ‘Be gentle on my curves’. You can interpret this a multitude of ways – kinky, sweet or sentimental. Taken in context, you can work out what it means: the curve of the road, but in English, we don’t often use the word curve to refer to a bend in a road. What really makes it funny, though, is the personality that the words attributed to the road sign. The request to ‘be gentle’ is polite, a personified request, and the phrase ‘my curves’, implies that the road sign has a body or shape of its own that is capable of sensation.
This is what I love about copywriting and words – how easy it is to interpret them in a number of ways. The meaning of words not only depends on formal definition but also the context, tone of voice, and the reader’s personal history, experience and perhaps even mood. Words are so easy to misuse, manipulate or misinterpret. That’s why we must be careful with them – or be gentle on them. I’m in the process of turning my favourite found copywriting into a found poem, so watch this space. I’ll share it with you when it’s ready.
What’s the funniest copywriting you’ve seen and where? Let me know in the comments below.
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