Here are nine things that I have observed in ad copy of late. I realize some of this is a matter of taste, but a lot of it really comes down to people leaning a little too heavily on current trends or clichés in their writing. The result? At best, your ads will blend in just a little too well in the crowd. At worst, they'll come across as unoriginal and thoughtless and ultimately fall short of their goal of being persuasive pieces of public communication.
Ellipses acting as a pause in thought
We've all seen ads that use ellipses not to imply an omission in thought but to force you to pause as you read. Like this: "Relax … we've got you covered." Ellipses used as a pause in thought are the copy equivalent to a cheesy voiceover in a late night infomercial.
This seems to be the go-to humour device in ad copy these days. Baconator. Steakalicious. Beer-BQ. Etc. Guys — it's not funny anymore.
Speaking of Baconator, Bacon is the portmanteau of bacon references.
Moustaches. A few years ago, people thought it was hilarious to sport moustaches because their dads did in the eighties. Of course, their dads didn't do it ironically but they did, and that was what made it okay, like the biggest inside joke that everyone was ever in on. But that was years ago now and the joke is old. I think the moustache needs a replacement. Hmmm. What can be even more ironic than an ironic moustache? A beard?
Yes, maybe beards are the antidote to the moustache. They're usually worn sincerely, and I think they generally do complete a man's appearance. But let's get over the self-conscious beard thing, just enjoy our enhanced jawlines, and not be forced to feel like we are special for being Men Who Sport Full Beards. It's not a badge or honour or a fashion statement, it's just the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.
Every now and then I catch a zombie reference and feel like I didn't get the punchline. Zombie appreciation is sort of a subculture of its own, I guess. People who find zombies funny probably have DeviantART accounts and attend flash mob raves. Which is totally cool and I guess it's just one of those things that I don't get because I'm not in the demographic. So I am not judging you but really just saying that I don't find zombies funny. At all.
Many taglines go like this: "Finding people, making friends." or "Planning our future for a better tomorrow." It's the truncated version of saying something without having to use the pronoun. Yes, using the i-n-g in this way is more compact than saying "You're finding people and making friends" or "We're planning the future for a better tomorrow", but it often purports to be poetic as well, and it's likely not.
Taglines. Like. This.
To me, this is the ultimate tagline cliché. I think Sony was one of the first to use the format in their Like. No. Other. campaign. Since then, probably tens of thousands of companies have latched onto the format and made it their own. I get that people like the completeness and succinctness that three words can offer. But just because your three words are different than someone else's, it's still a three-worder and you need to stop it.
Tone of voice
In this approach, an ad is purely typographic. Just a headline writ large with a nice font on a solid colour or pattern. Used thoughtfully, it can help establish a brand and effectively cut through the clutter. But often it just feels like someone's talking to me over a loudspeaker in an empty room. And as for the copy itself, well, too bad you used an ellipsis and a zombie reference!