31st July 2015

How to be Punny

Every Friday at Tangerine, we play a ferociously competitive game of Punny Business*. The challenge is simple: set a topical theme and ask for as many puns as possible.

The calibre is always high, with such gems as Fertilizer Minelli (gardening celebrities), The Pursuit of Nappy Mess (parenting films), and Biffy Biro (school musicians) taking the crown in recent weeks.

It’s great for a bit of comic relief to round off a busy week, and keeps the creative cogs well oiled.

A well-judged pun can give the content you produce for clients that much-needed standout, especially as more brands than ever are jostling for column inches, Likes, and RTs.

Though, like most of life’s pleasures, moderation is the key.

A bit of wordplay in the headline of a difficult press release or feature can inject a subject with humour. After all, if you are a journalist receiving hundreds of emails a day, would you rather read a subject line that’s criminally uninspired or one that makes you smile and want to read on?

But be warned: there’s a very fine line between the witty and the groan-worthy. Audiences are rarely fickle, especially on social media. There’s nothing worse than a brand that piggy-backs on what’s trending, just to be seen as having its finger on the pulse. And in this sharing age, the worst offenders are often exposed on social media.

Introducing Tesco, and its express approach to reactive social content.  Rapper Meek Mill, and Nicki Minaj’s boyfriend, took to Twitter to accuse Drake of not writing his own lyrics. Great fodder for celebrity bloggers, magazines and tabloids – and a supermarket brand, apparently.

Tesco waded in with this corker:



(Source: www.twitter.com/Tesco)

There’s a lesson here: strategy. Was it really in Tesco’s interest to react to this story? Not particularly. Tesco is a ubiquitous presence in the UK – its success can’t be ignored – so it really doesn’t need to be down with the kids for the sake of it. Besides, I don’t think Drake’s a big fan of Tesco’s falafel.

A lot of brands have fallen into the same trap. They should always have a reason to be punny. Reactive content is great, and an ingenious pun can go far and wide, but it’s always a good idea to take a step back and think: what is this adding to the campaign?

(*™ pending.)

By Aaron Eastwood, B2B Senior Account Executive