Your Copy Sucks: We Can’t Click That, Yo

Cup of coffeeInstead of my usual harsh judgment (my hammer of knowledge, if you will), this week I bring you a question. It’s an issue on which I’ve been waffling for some time.

Backstory: Remember a few weeks ago, when Starbucks released their new instant coffee? Well, now Nestle’s Taster’s Choice would like to remind you that they’ve been making instant coffee way before that young Turk ever came into the java-slinging world. Here in New York, and in several other cities, Nestle street teams have been handing out little envelopes filled with all sorts of Taster’s Choice instant coffee packets. Copy on these envelopes calls out the Starbucks instant brand as a lot of needless hype.

(I know; the irony of all this is that instant coffee is, as far as I can tell, almost universally reviled. I’m drinking the Nestle samples as I type this and I can tell you I’d much rather drink motor oil. But to be fair, I thought the same of the Starbucks samples that were being given away during their big promotion. Fighting over which brand of instant coffee is best is akin to arguing over what sort of natural disaster one would prefer.)

But here is the copy on the Taster’s Choice envelope that caught my eye.

nespostpic_web

I’m of two minds when it come to copy like this.

The marketing-y, branding-y, PR-ish part of me knows that Taster’s Choice must have an important social media component to this promotion, and if they didn’t include that piece of copy, they would have missed a huge opportunity. How else are they supposed to convert instant coffee drinkers to their brand? How else will they galvanize their Nestle army into spreading the word?

But the User in me (the part that laughs at xkcd comics) hates this copy. As a consumer, I scrunch my nose at this copy and say O RLY? Roughly translated: “Do you really expect me to sit down at my computer or flip open my smart phone, pull up the Twitter or Facebook homepages, search for NestlecafeUSA, and then follow or fan it?”

“You’ve given me no hyperlink to click!” is what this part of me yells.

I’ve heard whispers of “real-time hyperlinks” coming to at some vague and scary future time. The idea is that with a little applied technology (a barcode for your smartphone to scan, say) non-online promotions could be easily linked to their online counterparts. But until that day comes, directions like this seem to be asking a lot of the audience.

But then that first half of me steps in again and says, “Well, what should they do, genius? Just leave the copy off altogether?”

No, of course not. But there might be a little explanation, a reason for me to go through all the trouble to follow @NescafeUSA. For example, why not: “For updates on more free samples, look for us on Facebook and Twitter”?

Maybe I’m overthinking; what do you guys think about urging people in meatspace to do something online?

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  • missmotorcade

    Teej, you make a really good point. There should be some call to action for some good reason in that copy (or that magic barcode – which sounds awesome…) – otherwise, why would someone take the time to follow/fan? What's the benefit to the consumer? I'd even go a step further, tho – to make someone take the time to do something, some sort of reward would help – even as small as a coupon offered to fans/followers. Something. Otherwise, hey, I'm just too busy.

  • missmotorcade

    Oh – and I do disagree re: VIA – it's WAY better than any other instant coffee I've tried. Give it another shot 😉

  • No way. I'm fine with my usual coffee and tea.

    But the magic barcode! It's not too far from being a reality! There might also be embedded “hotspots” in real-life ads that, should a consumer opt in, would trigger an app on your smartphone. Imagine a product that could organize a real-world scavenger hunt for its fans; a promotion that automatically sent secret discount info when you walked by the store; an eatery with a rotating menu that tweeted you when you're in the neighborhood and your favorite soup was available.

    Augmented reality is going to be awesome! Paper? Not so awesome.

  • great post. I've thought about this so many times before. Totally agree – need that call to action. For the most part, you follow a brand because you can get something out of it. And if you don't know you can get something out of it, are you really going to save that little coffee sample, take it home and search it up on FB and twitter? I'm gonna guess no.

    give me some discounts, tell me I'll be entered to win something. anything. just gotta have it!

  • missmotorcade

    ha! i much prefer brewed, too.

    the magical barcode idea is awesome – the technology already exists to scan a barcode and do a price comparison – so hopefully it's not too far off…

  • Exactly. There's no reason for the copy to be coy. They already know I like free stuff; I am holding a sample of free stuff that I allowed a stranger at the bus terminal to give me!

  • Remember when (about 10 years ago) just about every consumer product you bought had the company's URL plastered somewhere on the box? I remember buying a box of Frosted Flakes that had Kelloggs.com all over the back.
    Just having your own site back then was a big thing, and everyone jumped on the “me too” bandwagon. This is the same thing.
    Most companies aren't even sure why they are on Facebook and Twitter (yet) but they just think that they get automatic cool points for creating accounts and announcing it to the world.
    Who needs a call to action when all you have to do is create an account and tell someone about it to win, right? 🙂

  • No way. I'm fine with my usual coffee and tea.

    But the magic barcode! It's not too far from being a reality! There might also be embedded “hotspots” in real-life ads that, should a consumer opt in, would trigger an app on your smartphone. Imagine a product that could organize a real-world scavenger hunt for its fans; a promotion that automatically sent secret discount info when you walked by the store; an eatery with a rotating menu that tweeted you when you're in the neighborhood and your favorite soup was available.

    Augmented reality is going to be awesome! Paper? Not so awesome.

  • great post. I've thought about this so many times before. Totally agree – need that call to action. For the most part, you follow a brand because you can get something out of it. And if you don't know you can get something out of it, are you really going to save that little coffee sample, take it home and search it up on FB and twitter? I'm gonna guess no.

    give me some discounts, tell me I'll be entered to win something. anything. just gotta have it!

  • missmotorcade

    ha! i much prefer brewed, too.

    the magical barcode idea is awesome – the technology already exists to scan a barcode and do a price comparison – so hopefully it's not too far off…

  • Exactly. There's no reason for the copy to be coy. They already know I like free stuff; I am holding a sample of free stuff that I allowed a stranger at the bus terminal to give me!

  • Remember when (about 10 years ago) just about every consumer product you bought had the company's URL plastered somewhere on the box? I remember buying a box of Frosted Flakes that had Kelloggs.com all over the back.
    Just having your own site back then was a big thing, and everyone jumped on the “me too” bandwagon. This is the same thing.
    Most companies aren't even sure why they are on Facebook and Twitter (yet) but they just think that they get automatic cool points for creating accounts and announcing it to the world.
    Who needs a call to action when all you have to do is create an account and tell someone about it to win, right? 🙂