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2018’s Best Copywriting

The KFC FCK ad from 2018

Three letters. THREE LETTERS! That sums up 2018’s best copywriting

You see it. You get it. And if you were counting on the Colonel that week, you can’t help but give them a pass for their fowl fail, because they made you laugh. So you’ll go back.

Here’s what we love about 2018’s best copywriting

The headline’s perfect. Lesser writers would’ve tried to punch up the apology. And anything other than “We’re sorry” would’ve seemed disingenuous. It’s a great example of a copywriter getting out of the way.

As for the body copy, it’s probably the best mea culpa we’ve seen. Nothing about the underlying message is positive. And there’s no excuse for what happened. They didn’t try to sweep it under the rug or reinforce the superiority of their eleven herbs and spices.

Managing boo boos with copywriting

Stuff happens. People make mistakes. The stars misalign. And when they do, the message you put out there is key to getting through it. Here are a few tips we’ve picked up over the years:

Own up

Like the KFC folks, don’t make excuses. Instead, admit your mistake and clearly explain what you’re going to do about it.

Don’t blame others

It’s easy to point the finger at a shipping partner or a materials supplier, but ultimately the buck stops with you. And even if it was someone else’s fault, they make mistakes too. And if you want to maintain a healthy relationship with the people who keep you afloat, it’s best not to throw them under the bus.

Be light

A little levity goes a long way in the face of a mistake. Like with KFC, it’s easy to forgive an error when it’s followed up by a smile. And resist the temptation to go all “ha-ha” with it. A simple curl of the lips will do.

But most importantly…be quick

Every minute that passes after a mistake is another minute for your customers to form negative thoughts about you, your brand and your place in their lives moving forward. That’s why, in cases like this, simple wins. Don’t overthink or try to be too clever. “We goofed. We’re sorry. Here’s our solution.” Done.

One final note about 2018’s best copywriting

As writers, we’re inspired by greatness like this KFC campaign. It makes us work harder, think better and strive to achieve more. In whatever profession you’re in, we highly recommend taking a few minutes to find the bar-setting achievements in your world, and thinking about what you can learn from them.

Writing Advice: Take a Walk on the Wilde Side.

Oscar Wilde Monument in Dublin

We get asked for writing advice all the time; from clients, students and the occasional family member. And while each request requires a different approach, some pieces of writing advice are universal.

Getting to know quips and brilliances from Oscar Wilde is one of those universals.

His command of language was so exacting (probably because he was proficient in English, French and German, Italian and Ancient Greek). His concepts were so eloquent. And his unique ability to make you shake your head in disbelief and say “YES!!” has, in our minds at least, yet to be matched.

This week marks the 118th anniversary of Oscar Wilde’s death. And so, to honour the wittiest man to every put pen to paper, and to provide those seeking writing advice with a bit of additional inspiration, here’s a quick list of our favourite Wildeisms.

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”

Wilde has a knack for spinning a truth into a benefit. As you write, keep in mind that your audience is a real person with real motivations. They know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. They want to know how this fact helps make their lives better.

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

With the changing of one letter, Wilde found a way to praise and insult at the same time. As you’re writing, look for wordplay opportunities like this. But use them sparingly. One of Wilde’s greatest literary gifts was his restraint (not so much in his personal life).

“I don’t want to go to heaven. None of my friends are there.”

Wilde was a master at bringing levity to tough subjects. This was one of his greatest strengths and can be a great strength when you’re tasked with a serious topic. Remember that your reader, in addition to being a doctor or a banker or mourner, is also a person who needs a bit of levity to break up the monotony.

“A good friend stabs you in the front.”

Understanding the basics of human experience was a skill of Wilde’s, and should be a skill of any writer. As you’re writing, try to rise up above the subject matter and look at the truth surrounding it. You’ll find something poignant to say.

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

This might be the best writing advice we can give. Always be ready to write your ideas down. You never know when you’re going to have them and you never want to lose a good one.

But Oscar Wilde’s best words may have been his last: “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go.”