False Marshmallowing: Product Should Deliver on Marketing Promise

Here’s an atrocious marketing gaffe. I bought this Friendly’s Chocolate Marshmallow Swirl ice cream with the idea that there would be giant swirls of marshmallow in it.

Where would I get that idea?

Friendly's package marketing promises a lot of marshmallow

I was dismayed to find this inside:

Friendly's Chocolate Marshmallow Swirl doesn't deliver marshmallow promised on package

No, I was dismayed by what I didn’t find inside.

There only a hint of marshmallow in this Friendly's ice cream despite marketing appearance on packageWhere’s the marshmallow!? Where are the giant gobs of heavenly marshmallow that the package portrayed? If you look carefully, you can see some very thin swirls in there. I enlarged a section of it that appears in the above photo on the right.

This makes me wonder: Has it always been this way or is it a sign of the hard economic times? Did Friendly’s used to have a utopia of marshmallowy goodness that’s depleted with their budget? Or have they always gotten away with lying on the box? Or was my carton of ice cream a fluke?

Although the packaging convinced me to buy the product, I was deceived into buying a product I didn’t want. Granted, chocolate ice cream with a tinge of marshmallow is still delicious and won’t go to waste, but I was craving some serious marshmallow.

Not only will I not buy this product again – unless Friendly’s can convince me they’ve changed their ways – but I won’t be able to trust any Friendly’s packaging in the future.

And an added negative effect of this false advertising is that I’m outing them on the Internet – to my multitude of devoted fans (aka Kristyn LeBlanc – but she’s fierce) no less!

Content Creation Must: Get Your Mind Into the Gutter

When creating content, it’s not just spelling, grammar, facts and compelling, quality writing that you need to worry about. There’s a danger lurking on the page that keeps writers and editors up at night with visions of their careers flashing before them.

Cat makes disgusted looking face over obscene contentNamely, the word “public”.

If you’re in the writing, particularly newspaper, business, you know why this is a scary word.

If you’re not, this word is easily misspelled as “pubic”. Imagine the horror of parents reading about their “pubic schools”! What makes this word especially terrifying is that “pubic” is a word, so spell check won’t pick it up.

And it’s not just that word that worries editors, but the similar potential for other words and phrases to come together in a similarly obscene way. On top of spell checking, grammar fixing and fact checking, it’s also the copy editor’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen. (This is made more difficult by sneaky reporters who try to slip innuendo into their copy hoping editors will miss it. You know who you are!)

As a content creator, you need to prevent unintentionally obscene language, too.

Think dirty

There’s a saying in the news business: A dirty mind is a copy editor’s best friend.

If you don’t know what I mean, you probably haven’t seen this headline that I saw via Grammarly‘s facebook page: A-Rod goes deep, Wang hurt.

Yikes!

If the person who wrote that only thought LONG and HARD … OK, moving on.

As hilarious as that headline is, you don’t want it to happen to you – or your company or client. You need to cultivate a dirty mind to create content that won’t offend, embarrass and/or get you fired.

Don’t worry, if you have trouble thinking filthy thoughts, there’s help for you. Play the game Dirty Minds, where participants are given obscene-sounding clues to guess an ordinary object. Heck those of us with a healthy dirty mind, should play it anyway because it’s a blast – and it’ll be harder for you to get past the dirty clues to guess a good, clean object!

If thought perversions are just beyond you, at least we all have a dirty-minded friend or co-worker to turn to. Ask this person to read your content before publishing to catch accidentally hilarious and/or offensive material.

Bottom line: Examine content long and hard before printing something that will have readers thinking about long, hard things.

Please share your own obscene-content mistakes and advice for preventing them. Thanks!

This post was inspired by my friend Kristyn Harvey LeBlanc, who shared Grammarly’s A-Rod headline with me, asking “Hey Ex-Journalist – Do these things really happen in the news world? Inquiring minds want to know.” They definitely do, Kristyn! And hopefully, with this post, it’ll happen less. Thanks for the inspiration!

Copywriting Confusion: Naturally, I’m Confused

I ran out of my favorite bars to eat every morning at work, so I swung into CVS for new ones. Well, they don’t carry my chewy peanut butter flavored Sunbelts so I settled for whatever chewy peanut butter bar I could find.

That happened to be this box of SnackWell’s:

SnackWell's box has confusing copywriting

OK, I’m checkin’ it out in my head: Hmm…SnackWell’s, eh, OK, whatever…Peanut Butter, yup, that’s what I want…Natural flavor with other natural flavor…ooo, 8gs of protein… Wait, wha-wha-what!? Did I read that right? *rereads* (probably aloud to be sure) “Natural flavor with other natural flavor!”

Yes, that’s right. NATURAL FLAVOR WITH OTHER NATURAL FLAVOR.

SnackWell's confusing copywriting says "Natural flavor with other natural flavor"

Natural flavor on packaging is confusing enough! Now there’s other natural flavor to wonder about?

All I can think about is tasting a bite, and musing aloud in a British accent, “Mmm, yeees. I taste a natural flavor …” *rolls it around on pallet, head and eyes tilted upward* “with just a hint of … what is it, exactly?” *deep, thoughtful expression and finger on chin* “Oh, yes, of course … other natural flavor.”

This is ridiculous!

So, NATURALLY, I had to buy it 1. to try this abundance of natural flavor and 2. to share this marketing quandary with others.

The flavor’s eh to me. I prefer my Sunbelts so I’ll stick to ’em when I can.

The marketing, however, is outrageous! I’m hoping this was a mistake – like they accidentally printed the filler text, forgetting to enter in what it’s actually supposed to say.

If the language in this marketing content is intentional, I don’t know what they’re trying to say and I don’t think any of their customers do either.

If you know what this means, please share!