Cliché - not so black and white? Friday December 11, 2009


A friend recently reminded me of William Safire’s great line: “Avoid clichés like the plague”. It came to mind again last week when a client suggested describing his company as “Big enough to cope, small enough to care” in a promotional letter. We had an interesting chat…The sentiment is great, but the words are a copywriting cliché. It’s a well worn statement in this kind of medium, the kind of line that creates a feeling of over-familiarity. The aim of the letter was to help my client stand out. My argument was that this cliché would make his company sound like the many other businesses out there already using it. Not what we wanted at all. We worked on a way of getting his message across without using those words. But I’m not being black and white about cliché. It’s when and where you use it in copywriting that makes the difference. A cliché with a kick can do all kinds of interesting things – surprise you, catch your eye or even make you laugh. And sometimes not. You live and learn.

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