The power of nonsense in copywriting
Amy is our Senior Copywriter. She produces compelling copy for our clients; for their websites, emails, social posts and campaigns.
Whilst the final output might always be a string of words, the journey to get there is complex, dynamic, and vital to ensuring the copy delivers what's needed. Whether it’s converting, engaging, or driving a user through a website, copywriting is an ancient art form that remains as relevant as ever in an rapidly shifting digital age.
Below, Amy gives a little insight into her own, sometimes nonsensical, journey to crafting copy.
The power of nonsense
Taking a cue from every Best Man out there, Collins Dictionary defines “nonsense” as: something that makes no sense; something lacking in value or importance; drivel. On a good copy day, you’re successfully combining strategy, storytelling, and style to create something persuasive, memorable, and maybe even charming. So, what happens when it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad copy day? Well, in between the crying and self-sabotage, you can find some forgiveness in the magic of nonsense. It looks a little different for everyone, but I’m partial to scribbling bad jokes, bad puns, and lo-fi doodling.
My mum, a retired English teacher, would usually have two responses when I went to her with writing obstacles as a kid: write something silly, and try the thesaurus. Succinct advice. She, in her pursuit to bulldoze her own creative blocks, was partial to limericks. At one point, she gave me a collection of children’s poems that included “You Are Old, Father William”. Written by Lewis Carroll, it’s a tongue-in-cheek parody of an existing poem and tells of a young man who arrogantly and endlessly reminds his father of impending old age, tempering the father’s zest for nonsense. In retrospect, she may have been trying to tell me something.
Nevertheless, I’ve since realised that there are countless things in this life that are both undeniably nonsensical and shockingly fulfilling. Slinkies. Fidget spinners. Those slap bracelet things? And because film is the language I speak best, you can find this phenomenon across all of cinema. Exhibit A: Charlie’s Angels. Specifically, the 2000 and 2003 film adaptations of an otherwise okay 1970s American TV procedural. An iconic catchphrase, distinct music, and familar iconography are brought to their inevitable campy conclusion in this particularly facetious franchise. Directed by McG (one name, so you know we’re off to a great start) the films make every effort to embrace the nonsense of an absurd heritage. Thus, rendering something pointless – purposeful.
Nonsense can also be one of the best ways to educate and communicate. As a connoisseur of TikTok, the platform is full of nonsense. Occasionally, though, you’ll find something genuinely illuminating. Recently, the official TikTok page of ‘dictionary.com’ shared a post explaining the difference between a dictionary and a thesaurus. To illustrate this, they used ‘No Scrubs’ by TLC. Because, you see, a scrub is “a guy who thinks he’s fly” [Dictionary] and is “also known as a busta” [Thesaurus]. As a fan of dictionaries, and an even bigger fan of TLC, this really hits something in my frontal cortex.
The power of nonsense lies in its perennial ability to surprise. It can be clever and amusing and revealing. Through its mere unwarranted existence, it can offer new insight. It will ask of you to abandon certain hang-ups. And it will demand that you enjoy the process. The nonsense that you scribble in margins and sprawl across pages may never make the final cut, but your curiosity and creativity will. So, what does any of this mean? Well, nothing really. It’s all just nonsense.
Want to work with Amy? Get in touch.
Matt is Creative Director at Great State. That means he's responsible for driving not only creative excellence but also baking innovation and experimentation into our work. He and his talented team of creatives don't just hit the brief, they deliver work that goes beyond expectations of what our clients thought possible. So, meet Matt! You won't be disappointed.
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