Humour – Dangerous Territory for a Copywriter

Making the mundane sound riveting can be quite a task.

So how do you transform the banal into headline grabbing news?

With great difficulty usually!

Puns and Sexual Innuendo

As a copywriter I do have a few weapons at my disposal and one of them is humour. An inspired pun or a cheeky sexual innuendo can make all the difference. It can also drop you into some very hot water indeed!

Humour must be used advisedly but is sometimes a trick that it is hard to resist. I often experience the need for handcuffs to keep my extremities away from my keyboard (no sexual innuendo there then). Oh the frustration (there I go again) when the perfect opportunity presents itself but at a time when humour is entirely inappropriate!

Take a new project that I have just started working on.

One of my clients approached me recently about a new website for which a holding page and several blogs were required.

Nothing new there then!

What’s Funny About Bird Food?

My heart sank when I realised that this was to be a site selling bird food. Quite apart from the fact that I know nothing about bird food, this is a subject into which anyone would struggle to inject excitement. Then there was the fact that I never put out food for the birds in my garden.  To do so would be tantamount to murder. My evil cat Paolo is an accomplished killer of anything even moderately smaller than himself.

This was starting to look like a very difficult project. Then I saw the name of the business – Little Peckers! Brilliant!

Manna from heaven in fact. But wait!

Know Your Demographic

It is important to understand the demographic of one’s audience before attempting to write anything. Who would be most likely to buy bird food? My heart sank once more. Surely I would need to create content aimed at the older generation. Those whose little peckers have ……….(enough said).

I needed to speak to the owner of the site to confirm my fears which he did. His customers were largely the elderly. The situation then got materially worse.

One of the pieces that I needed to write would be about fat balls. Oh please!

My amusement was audible. I was then informed that Little Peckers had recently advertised their fat balls. (I was now on the floor in hysterics). Said advert had capitalised on the rather obvious opportunity for humour and it had backfired. The company had received numerous complaints about sexual innuendo. Really?

fat balls

Hell and damnation! The funniest subject matter I had encountered in ages was right there in front of me and I couldn’t use it.

I eventually wrote what I thought was a serious but informative piece about a garden bird survey. It was only this evening that I read it again and noted the following line:

“Many species of birds relish suet fat balls including tits”

Oh dear!

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