When I finally upgraded my mobile phone, after much research and indecision, I didn’t actually choose a phone – I chose a camera that happened to make phone calls. Let’s face it – we often delude ourselves when we’re shopping. That’s why we end up with books we don’t read, clothes we don’t wear and gadgets we don’t use. I almost fell into that trap. And then I realised that for me, a mobile phone is just a convenience: it’s useful if I’m late for a meeting, or need to speak to somebody right now and it really can’t wait. But I don’t want to microwave my brain with 900 minutes a month. If I send two texts a month, it’s a record. And as for instant email, well I’m sure luscious Ludmila and The Viagra Superstore can wait until I get back to the office. No – for me, the camera’s the thing. And one of its chief pleasures is snapping copy that catches my eye. So here, in the first of a regular series, are some examples of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Word workout

When I’m stuck in a creative corner, I often hit the gym: just getting those endorphins pumping makes the ideas flow. It’s also a happy hunting ground for copy, starting outside the building: The gym is in a leisure park, and these are all the things you can do. But it doesn’t work, does it? The reason is simple: lists work when the elements are similar. So it should be fitness, dining, bowling, movies, cafe, bar. It’s an easy mistake to make, but it really affects the rhythm of the copy. Here we go again, this time inside the gym: First, we have build, increase, boost, reduce. So far, so good (all verbs).  But then the list falls apart, and we’re left feeling slightly seasick. The solution?  Break it into two lists – one for benefits (build, increase…) one for features (effective, healthy…). Now it works. OK, let’s go into the changing rooms. If you were trying to sell people water based on its rehydrating properties, where would you put the advert? Above the urinals, of course. A master stroke (yes, pun intended). And if water’s not your thing, how about an energy drink? This one always gives me a Lynn Truss moment (Eats shoots and leaves vs. Eats, shoots and leaves). All it needs is a hyphen, so it would read Junk-free and proud of it. But mentally, I provide my own punctuation: Junk, free and proud of it. I think I’ll stick with tap water. Merry Christmas.