11 Copywriting Catastrophes You Have to See to Believe

People overlook the value of a good copywriter because they think what we do is easy.
It is sometimes fun. It is not easy.
I’ve spent my entire career brainstorming taglines, crafting blog posts, and proofing paragraph after paragraph. Every marketing office needs an Ogilvy, a Leo Burnett, a Peggy Olson (ok, she’s fictional, but you get the idea).
One college creative writing class does not a wordsmith make. Do not attempt to run your business and write your own website copy. And please don’t delegate your content writing needs to some Joyce-worshiping intern who thinks writing is glamorous and a bottle of scotch makes him more creative.
Enter my copy house of horrors and see how one copywriting blunder could destroy your brand. Don’t let these copy fails happen to you!

Unfortunate Names

1. Candy Store or Sex Shop?

suck and sea copy catastrophe
Not only is it unappetizing, it gives sweet, innocent candy a strong sexual connotation. They get points for dotting the “I” with a peppermint – that’s clever. Always say your business name out loud five times before you hang up the sign, secure the url, or make the tee shirts.

2. Veterinarian or Robot Repair?

dog and cat repair fail
Copywriting 101: When you move in to a new building, don’t leave one word on your sign and replace the other words to save money. I’m honestly wondering if they’re repairing dog and cat robots.
Thanks to the Fail Blog for finding these amazingly bad signs.

3. Sexy Cab

kinki taxi internet copywriting fails
Too close to “kinky.” But maybe it’s a good thing? If you want to name your cab Kinki, at least make it alliterative: “kinki cab” – a far better choice over “kinki taxi.”

4. The Road Less Traveled

Witness the power of an unfortunate name. The Crapstone looks like a gorgeous drive until you read the sign. I don’t know about you, but Crapstone makes me picture mounds of rock-hard, white dog poo everywhere. Pass.

“Stupid” Quotes

Not only will a good copywriter help you avoid the name fail, they have an owl-like ability to hunt down misused punctuation marks and over-used exclamation points.
If you don’t think punctuation marks could destroy your signage, just check out these:

5. Snow Don’t Know Sh$t

duane snow knows - copywriting fail
Not only are these quotation marks distracting, I’m questioning whether Duane Snow knows anything or if he knows a juicy government secret. You can’t trust a person who doesn’t know how to use quotation marks.

6. So, is it on Sale?

clearance copywriting fail
I already distrust dealerships. But with the unnecessary quotation marks, I’m wondering if their cars are really on clearance and if the sales people made it past third grade. If I had $20,000 to spend on a mini-van, I’d go someplace with a better sign (and free doughnuts).

7. Lunch

ponty lunch copywriting fail
Wait – what are you serving again? Unnecessary quotation marks are the worst when applied to food advertisements.

  • Hungry for some “Steak”
  • Now with “Real Ham”
  • Juicy, finger-licking good “Chicken”

I know what I won’t be eating for “lunch.”
The blog of unnecessary quotation marks is an amazing resource for punctuation humor.

Just Bad Language

8. Balloon Blow Up

balloon orders copywriting fail
You’ll need a lot more than 75 cents if your shop blows up.

9. Nerd Word Confusion

star trek copywriting fail
Never confuse a Trekkie with a Star Warsian.

Fashion Copy Catastrophes

10. A Juicy Apostrophe

juicy girl copywriting fail.png
An apostrophe catastrophe is like wearing yellow to a funeral – you’ll stand out but it’s not pretty.

11. Spell Check Isn’t a Proofreader

free gift copywriting fail
Misspelling your company name in your own ad is copy suicide.
The Red Inc caught these mishaps.

Remember, proofread, proofread, proofread. Spell check can’t find stupid mistakes. Comment below and share your own horror stories!

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  1. Oh my god, I think the apostrophe violation is the worse…no, getting your own name wrong is up there.
    Thanks for these doozies (note: not a real word!)…better watch my spelling or I’ll end up on here too. Yikes.

  2. A personal observation from “the land of unnecessary quotation marks”:
    Personal checks “not accepted.”
    It seemed to covertly imply – *wink-wink* slip your personal check under the table, no questions asked.
    I ignored it and used my check card.

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