This week I was asked to quote a fee for writing the label copy for a well known Scottish drink. I’m still waiting to hear whether my language must be come-hither seductive shelf stopper or a zingy sassy invitation to ‘take me to the till’. Either way, shifting product into supermarket basket will mean adopting the brand personality, which could be as simple as: ‘Young, innovative, accessible and hassle-free – and everything we write should reflect this’. Although that sounds like Yakult, it’s actually what I was told by an insurance company hiring a writer for their blogs posts.
While it’s not too much of a leap to attribute human qualities to a company that is basically made up of people, it is slightly more challenging to develop a tone of voice for, say, a jar of marmite appealing for your help in loosening its top.
Which is what happened as the yeast extract sat alongside a loaf of Kingsmill and other food items in front of an audience in a yurt at the end of August (overheard at the Edinburgh Festival ‘go past the Spiegeltent and you’ll see the yurt by the crepe stall’).
This was a glimpse into a future where cheery chat with the contents of your cupboards becomes commonplace, the premise of ‘Is Your Marmite Watching You?’ a show by the Design Informatics Research Centre. There’s a good review here by Rebecca Stafford of SCVO.
I went along to learn about what’s becoming a ‘thing’ in content marketing, the much hyped Internet of Things. It seems that ‘everything will be online’, over 500 million devices connected via the internet, with huge implications for creating and sharing content. It’s already clear we’re likely to see increasing personalisation (your fridge telling you it’s about time you chucked out the mouldy cheese, because it understands your habits and can interpret data in real time to predict your needs) and a rise in user-generated shared content. The show explored ‘what it might be like when all of the objects in our lives become intelligent and talk to one another – and us’.
The Internet of Things is based on sensors, networking and apps, to connect the real and virtual worlds in real time. One company experimenting with this is the Hiut Denim Company, featured on the BBC’s You and Yours consumer affairs programme. The Welsh denim manufacturer has given 50 people a pair of jeans for free to break them in on behalf of customers, using humans rather than machines to pre-age the denim. Each carries a History Tag which lets you ‘witness the lives and adventures of Hiut jeans through the eyes of the wearers’. It allows users to share photos taken during manufacturing through to rolled-up and feet paddling in the sea.
What does this mean for copy? Many more opportunities to create a seamless user journey, to provide the best possible brand experience, beyond that who knows? It’s an emerging technology and the dust has yet to settle on that old jar at the back of the cupboard.