Writer, Reader, Rascal

Andrew Boulton is a copywriter with a decade of scribbling experience at places like Egg the online bank, some top agencies in the Midlands and once for a man who carved dolphins out of cheese. He...

... was nominated for the Professional Publishers Association Award for Business Media Columnist of the Year despite having little or no grasp of the semi colon. He has decent hair but a disappointing beard. You can follow him on Twitter @Boultini.

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5 February 2013 - 10:27am | posted by | 7 comments

Get packing: the changing voice of on-pack copy

Get packing: the changing voice of on-pack copyGet packing: the changing voice of on-pack copy

I am, it appears, an increasingly grumpy man. This dawned on me during a recent episode of ‘Call The Midwife’ when I scanned the room frantically looking for something I could knock myself unconscious with. In the end, it was the dog.

But there is one thing that appears to upset an awful lot of people that I actually find rather charming. And that is packaging with personality.

Increasingly, a product’s packaging has become an integral part of delivering a brand’s voice, values and personality.

On a recent Innocent Smoothie I purchased, the nutritional information, storage instructions and all the mandatory wording took up less space than a panel that informed me how I should ride my dinosaur.

This kind of thing upsets some people. A certain type of character is a little uncomfortable or unresponsive to engaging in a spot of friendly banter with the stuff that’s wrapped around their goods.

But I for one think it’s a good way to go. Admittedly, there are some brands I simply don’t want to talk to. If my can of Lynx Africa tried to talk to me i’d be fairly tempted to tell it to f*ck off.

Also, I think it’s a copywriting technique that can very easily teeter over the precipice of being charming and tumble into the endless void of triviality.

But when a brand gets it right and speaks in a voice that embodies everything appealing about the product, then I am quite happy to salute that.

Along with Innocent, who have largely set the blueprint for this kind of irreverent, playful on-pack messaging, another brand who I feel pull off this tricky concept with a great deal of aplomb is Soap and Glory.

Much like Innocent, cosmetic brand Soap and Glory have spawned innumerable imitators (most of whom, it has to be said, fail to do it justice).

Their striking packages and their seemingly endless supply of puns (their range of scrubs alone contains ‘Scrub Actually’ ‘Pulp Friction’ and ‘The Breakfast Scrub’ – i’m officially pitching ‘Big Scrubble in Little China’) sets them apart from the competition.

And this unique position in the market is down to their humour, their cheeky use of images and the fact that they’re not afraid to use larger than normal amounts of (very well written) copy on the front of their packs.

In a sector where most brands take themselves entirely too seriously, Soap and Glory’s approach is as refreshing as being lathered up with a fistful of ‘The Showering Inferno’ (mine again, sorry).

All too often, a certain rigidness is adopted in the approach to packaging design, and particularly the messaging it incorporates. Brands like Soap and Glory have smashed this dogma simply by being an incontrovertible case study into its effectiveness and popularity.

Of course, there is another reason to be thankful. Next time ‘Call The Midwife’ is on, I can simply temporarily blind myself with ‘Indiana Jones and The Temple of Shampoom’. That one didn’t work did it? Dammit.


Andrew Boulton is a copywriter at the Together Agency. No dogs were harmed in his attempts to not watch ‘Call The Midwife’.


6 Feb 2013 - 08:53
russm34721's picture

Anyone that uses Lynx beyond their 17th birthday, can't be taken seriously! But nice article though fella.

6 Feb 2013 - 10:20
andrewboulton's picture

@russm34721 But it makes me powerfully attractive to many, many beautiful strangers. Or so I am led to believe.

6 Feb 2013 - 10:36
russm34721's picture

@andrewboulton Ha. Excellent. That's the Lynx effect right there. Good work Andrew.

6 Feb 2013 - 10:29
mark_astle's picture

Trouble,is everyone jumps on the bandwagon. So we have the conversational, matey copy on everything we buy. They should try it on cigarette packets...

7 Feb 2013 - 16:14
joe.birkedale's picture

Good stuff Mr B. I've been thinking the same for years. However, only a brave few will do this well - partly because only a few genuinely understand their brand values and partly because only a few product managers have got balls.

7 Feb 2013 - 16:34
andrewboulton's picture

@joe.birkedale we've been getting increasing amounts of new work where clients are embracing that sort of tone of voice. But there is a still a huge amount of nervousness surrounding packaging copy in particular.

7 Feb 2013 - 17:14
natal20086's picture

I might be wrong but I always felt that 'Soap & Glory' were merely copying Benefits Cosmetics approach to packaging, wording etc.

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