save the melting polar bears!

Wait..what? Polar bears are melting? Well, if you say so, Coca Cola..

sadfaaaace

You know that feeling of shock you get when a big brand does something stupid? You think, don’t they have enough money to throw around to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen? Yeah..that.

And you know that feeling of shock you get when you find out white fuzzy cuddly terrifying killer bear things are capable of MELTING? You think, don’t the laws of physics have something to say about this? Yeah..that.

Imagine both of those feelings together, and you’ll get an approximation of my reaction on hearing the soundtrack to the above video, a Coca Cola/WWF charity thingy, asking you to help, and I quote,

save the home of the polar bear, which is melting.

End quote.

Assumptions are never good enough

Yes, yes, I know what they mean. But assuming that your customers will know what you mean when you word something stupidly is just not good enough.

It’s not good enough for Coca Cola, it’s not good enough for WWF, it’s not good enough for anyone who works in advertising or charity.

And it’s certainly not good enough for those fuzzy wuzzy bears, who are pretty genuinely sadface about their home disappearing. Here’s Greenpeace doing it better. Warning: this made me weep actual tears.

homeless polar bear :(((

Am I overreacting? Here’s the thing: Any time your wording causes me to concentrate on the actual words you’re saying, and write a blog post ridiculing them, you’ve just distracted me from your (genuine) cause.

Avoid the smudgy windows

Writer and renowned clever bloke George Orwell once remarked that good prose is like a window pane. When you write, readers should be able to see through your words to the truth behind. As soon as your words jar a bit, it’s like seeing a smudge on a window – you don’t see the view through the window, you see the smudge.

So when you can’t be bothered to sort out the relative pronoun in your sentence, with the result that it sounds like you’re telling me polar bears are melting, my focus has shifted way away from the real problem. And that doesn’t help anyone.

Get your act together, Coca Cola/WWF. The white fuzzy killing machines deserve better.

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6 Comments

Filed under how not to write

6 responses to “save the melting polar bears!

  1. I appreciate the clear pane vs. smudge visual and can see how that relates to some feedback I’ve received on my own writing lately. Here’s to clarity!

    • To clarity! Not that all writers care about that – I read Anthony Burgess’ autobiography, and towards the end he says that he deliberately used long, obscure, archaic words in his writing to trip the reader up so that they wouldn’t be able to read his work effortlessly. Tsk.

  2. Jae

    I’ve read the polar bear population is actually doing very well now and the seals that they eat are suffering. Who will save the baby seals? Who?! WHO I ask you!!! 😉 Thanks for killing baby seals Coke!

    But yeah, clarity, as you’ve said, is very important. 😀

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