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Archive for May, 2009

Friday fun post #003

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Nice viral platform game from the people behind Shakespeare Country: ‘Romeo, Wherefore Art Thou?’

Guide Romeo safely around some of the area’s famous attractions, helping him to rescue Juliet from her balcony.

Romeo Wherefore Art Thou?

Another good reason to hire a copywriter

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

A Gaviscon ad from South Africa, sent to me by a friend.


Friday fun post #002

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Have you seen this?

Wolfram Alpha is a new search engine which aims to “make all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone”. On a simple level, it’s fun to type in your date of birth and find out how many days old you are, or what time the sun set in your hometown on your very first day on this earth.

But dig a little deeper and it will give calculations and formulae for just about anything - facts and statistics from the worlds of health and medicine, culture and media, money and finance. I’m hooked!

Advertising claims masterclass: supermarket pricing

Monday, May 18th, 2009

This seminar on Wednesday looks good for anyone who works in brand management, creative development or corporate communications for food companies.

It’s run by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP). It will cover:

* Understanding ad regulation, and the roles of advertisers, agencies and media
* Someone’s complained about your ad – what now?  A step-by-step guide to the ASA process
* An overview of the relevant rules in the CAP TV, Radio and Non-Broadcast Codes
* Specific issues surrounding supermarket advertising
* Comparative claims - substantiation, verifiability, references to competitors
* Case studies
* Resources available to make sure your ads comply with the rules.

When? Wednesday 20 May, 8:30am - 11am
Where? London (I guess they’ll be more specific once you book your place!)
How much does it cost? £150 per delegate, with discounts for companies booking four or more places
How do I sign up? Phone 020 7492 2126 or email

I’m planning to feature useful events for copywriters regularly here, so if you’ve got something lined up, feel free to contact us.

Happy birthday, Good As Gold!

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Good As Gold was incorporated at the end of April 2008 and today (12 May 2009) marks the first anniversary of when we began trading.
White gift box and gold bow
On paper (and according to most of the papers), you probably couldn’t choose a worse time to start a business.  But we’ve been delighted to maintain a healthy order book all year round, picking up some lovely new clients along the way and making sure the existing ones are delighted into coming back for more.

Recent and current projects include writing for LEGO DUPLO at Sky Digital Media; editing a parenting book for a major UK publisher and continuing to write marketing copy for the clients of high-profile design agencies here in the West Midlands.

In fact, business has been so brisk that we’ve started building a stable of freelance writers to support us, each with their own strengths, skills and specialisms. If you’re interested in joining the Good As Gold team, please email with your CV and samples of your work.

And that concludes the trumpet-blowing for today, just leaving me to thank everyone who has supported Good As Gold over the past 12 months. Thank you. And stay with us - we’re going places!

- Marie

[Tip from a copywriter: according to the Guardian Style Guide, only people have birthdays, while institutions and events have 'anniversaries'. But we've decided to ignore that. After all, good copywriting means knowing all the rules and making an informed choice to break them!]

Readability: the Simple Measure of Gobbledegook

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Whatever organisation you work for, it’s important that your written communication is easily understood by your audience. Using complex sentences or difficult words can put readers off.

Recognising this, NIACE (the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education) has worked with Professor Colin Harrison at the University of Nottingham to develop a tool which analyses the ‘readability’ level of text. They have called it SMOG: the Simple Measure of Gobbledegook.

How complex is your writing? Try pasting a sample of your own text into the SMOG calculator:

When interpreting your results, it’s worth looking at the scores for a typical piece of editorial in the following newspapers:

* The Sun - less than 14

* The Daily Express - less than 16

* The Telegraph and The Guardian - more than 17.

This free NIACE guide has more suggestions for interpreting your scores and boosting readability. You can download it here:

[Footnote: Just checked this blog entry and it scored 16.7. Which is fine because I know you're a high-brow bunch!]

Metaphors (allegedly) from GCSE English papers

Friday, May 1st, 2009

It’s exam season for many people soon. To celebrate (commiserate?), here’s a list of funny metaphors allegedly taken from GCSE English papers. Like a comedian who does stand-up shows in a holiday camp and therefore never has a holiday, this list has been playing the forwarded-email circuit for years …

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a tumble dryer.
She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.
The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
McMurphy fell 12 storeys, hitting the pavement like a paper bag filled with vegetable soup.
Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the centre.
Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left York at 6:36 pm travelling at 55 mph, the other from Peterborough at 4:19pm at a speed of 35 mph.
The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the full stop after the Dr on a Dr Pepper can.
John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
The thunder was ominous sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.
The red brick wall was the colour of a brick-red crayon.
Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.
The door had been forced, as forced as the dialogue during the interview portion of Family Fortunes.
Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
The plan was simple, like my brother Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
’Oh, Jason, take me,’ she panted, her breasts heaving like a student on 31p-a-pint night.
He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before.
The knife was as sharp as the tone used by Glenda Jackson MP in her first several points of parliamentary procedure made to Robin Cook MP, Leader of the House of Commons, in the House Judiciary Committee hearings on the suspension of Keith Vaz MP.
The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a lamppost.
The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free cashpoint.
The dandelion swayed in the gentle breeze like an oscillating electric fan set on medium.
It was a working class tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with their power tools.
He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a dustcart reversing.
She was as easy as the Daily Star crossword.
She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature British beef.
She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.
Her voice had that tense, grating quality, like a first-generation thermal paper fax machine that needed a band tightened.
It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

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