Do you have a sensitive soul? Do you blush at the word ‘willies’? Do you avoid Nicholas Lyndhurst sitcoms because you find them a bit too ‘blue’?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then this may not be the blog for you. Gaze out of the window at something peaceful, like clouds that look like baby ducks.
Right, now the ducky-cloud people have left us we can get to the meat of the issue. This article is about bad f***ing language.
As you have probably noticed I have just deprived you all of an ‘uck’. You may especially have noticed it seeing as more and more areas of the media are less compelled to reach for the asterisks.
Swearing is increasingly becoming a more acceptable and prevalent fixture in both speech and writing. Television programmes and films have become far more relaxed in their attitudes to bad language, and the ‘f’ and even the ‘c’ words are not the shockers they once were.
I’ve even tuned into Afternoon Plays on Radio 4 and been confronted with a peppering of unexpectedly fruity language. I damn near dropped my cup of Horlicks.
Yet the advertising world does not seem to have joined the ‘Blue Revolution’. Obviously, the regulations and standards we have to work within prevent us from dabbling in profanities.
But even if they were relaxed I doubt very much we would suddenly see a swarm of swears emerge in the market.
And yet, as a copywriter, I feel that there is something to be said for the use of swearing in advertising. Used thoughtfully, in a way that actually strengthens the impact of a message, bad language can elevate a piece of copywriting.
Naturally, the old cliché of ‘exclamation, not punctuation’ must be applied for bad language in a marketing message to enhance it.
There are countless examples of where swear words are used lazily or purely for shock value where it comes across as vulgar and puerile. But if done with intelligence and for legitimate reasons there’s surely something to be said for these undoubtedly powerful words.
I also doubt that there are many copywriters who wouldn’t leap at the chance to drop the ‘F’ bomb in a headline, or at least a handful of ‘S’, ‘P’ and ‘L’ grenades. (I wonder how many of you are trying to work out what the ‘L’ word could be…)
I’ll leave you to ponder that. In the meantime, in the words of Bruce Willis from Die Hard ‘Yippe Ki-yay, you cheeky monkeys’.
Andrew Boulton is a copywriter at the Together Agency. He’s also a massive ****.
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