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What the iPad and Homeopathy Can Teach You About Using Hype in Your Copywriting

February 17, 2010
protest sign

You often hear about how we’re imminently entering a new era of transparency and authenticity in marketing. Social networking is giving people the power to sidestep and slice through cynical marketing claims; you can’t just drench people in enough messages and hope something will stick.

Based on these two examples, the new era of transparency might not be too far away and has serious implications for the claims you might be occasionally tempted to drop into your copywriting.

‘iPad sucks’ – 644,00 Google hits

Following the success of the iPhone, it’s no wonder people were expecting something special when they heard rumours about Apple’s latest gift to the world of technology. But when the iPad was unveiled many felt Mr Jobs’ use of the words ‘magical’ and ‘revolutionary’ were ill advised.

Within hours a backlash had ensued. The web’s influential army of tech bloggers were up in arms and launched a barrage of critical posts pointing out what, they saw as, the iPad’s ‘backbreaking failures’.

The ‘iPad sucks’ backlash is a lesson to copywriters everywhere on the dangers of hype backfiring when the reality fails to live up to the expectation.

‘Homeopathic overdose’ – 581,000 undiluted search results

UK pharmaceutical chain Boots recently found itself the target of an anti-homeopathy campaign when hundreds of sceptics ‘overdosed’ on homeopathic remedies outside its doors in protest against a range of products they describe as ‘scientifically absurd’.

Whether you believe in homeopathy or not, it’s interesting to note that (according to The Guardian) one pill maker spends more than 16 times (€108m) on marketing than it does on research (€6.5m). A ratio high enough to make any pharmaceutical company blush.

The homeopathic overdose campaign was grown and coordinated by an online community of sceptic blogs and podcasts. It shows how people now have the tools to rebel against, what they view as, misleading marketing claims.

So if you feel tempted to describe a product as ‘magical’, or use a similarly vacuous term, think carefully. Because your customers can now respond (and fill up Google’s search results) with adjectives of their own.

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