Copywriting clients who weren’t afraid to try something bold

October 16, 2015 •
Feature image for bold copy post

Most of my clients want conversational copy. They’re happy with contractions, incomplete sentences and sentences that start with conjunctions. That sort of thing. They know it’s all about keeping the reader reading.

But very few are prepared to take the next step. To say, “fuck it, I’m gonna make a real statement here!”

(Not necessarily by swearing, of course. In fact, I’d rarely recommend that. Nor would I use slang like “gonna” very often. I did both here only to make a point… If you’re going to make a real statement, you need to throw caution to the wind. Be smart, be strategic, be relevant, but don’t be scared.)

So when a client sends me a ‘fuck it’ brief, I get excited. Not just because it’s unusual, and change is as good as a holiday, but because it’s fun. It’s creative and challenging and far more rewarding. And I feel like I’m making a much bigger contribution to their business than usual.

Here are a few examples of copy I’ve written for clients who weren’t afraid to try to something different. (Click to zoom.)

Calling on cultural capital

Anna Roe and Co wanted some standout copy for one of the flagship products – a leather overnight bag for men. Here’s what I wrote for them:

Copy for leather duffle bag

Adventure and the senses

Fast-food chain, Sabbaba, wanted a menu intro that launched readers on a journey, and reflected the nature of their food…

Restaurant menu copy

Saying it how it is

The owner of Connected Resourcing told me he’s not your typical recruitment agent. Said he’s more an old-school headhunter. He was after something fairly vanilla, but when I recommended he cut to the chase, he was nervous but excited, and decided to go for it. Here’s the start of the home page I wireframed for him (currently in development):

Copywriting for a recruitment agent

Simple and succinct

Yast is a simple project timer. They wanted copy that signalled that simplicity, and they were more than happy with the colloquial approach.

Copywriting for a project timer

You firkin what?

Unfortunately I didn’t come up with the name of this product, but it was a lot of fun conceiving ad concepts and headlines (just a mockup – not their bottles either). They used the word “euphemism” in the brief, and as Kate Toon will tell you, I don’t need to be asked twice! 😉

Adult concept and headline for alcohol

A bit of fun alien sex

If a firkin isn’t racy enough for you, try this on for size. (Maybe not literally.) It’s a sex-toy for men with a sense of humour (as pictured in the feature image above) and the unsubtle, very NSFW copy implicitly acknowledges its ridiculous nature.

Product description copy for a men's sex toy

And some jealous aliens who missed out?

Twenty2 Digital went with an aliens theme on their website, and they wanted some light-hearted copy to support it…

funny web copy for digital agency

More funny copy for a digital agency

The boldest of the lot

Now although this one isn’t racy and it doesn’t swear, it’s actually riskier than all of the above. Not only does it use humour (always a risk), but it’s also rude to the reader. Tongue in cheek, obviously, but still…

Funny EDM copy for a hotel

Had clients who wanted bold copy?

I’d love to hear your experiences with clients who wanted something a little unusual. Please comment…

Feel free to comment...
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Tanja @ Crystal Clarity wrote on October 16th, 2015

My clients don't tend to want "bold outrageous copy", so much as they want clear, authentic stuff that feels totally natural for them (possibly because I deal with solopreneurs rather than corporates? Or possibly because they tend to be healers, coaches and counsellors? Whatever: it is what it is) That said, one of my boldest projects for a client was the website copy for Ava Grace, a Brisbane escort, and good businessfriend (and yes, sex work is 100% legal where she is). The challenge with her copy was being crystal clear about what she offered, while still complying with Queensland law about what she could and couldn't say; and appealing to her ideal clients without being crass about it (which is totally off-brand for her) Apparently, the copy I wrote for her was successful enough that she agreed to have me write up a case study on it on my website. You can find that at if you're curious!

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Teri Foster wrote on October 16th, 2015

Fantastic article! Really enjoyed this and hope I get some 'bold' clients. Such fun and an opportunity to be really creative! Most people are very conservative and want to play 'safe'.

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Glenn Murray wrote on October 18th, 2015

Yeah, it's definitely a lot more fun. Playing it safe is fine, but I think it's like everything, bigger risks offer bigger potential rewards...

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Glenn Murray wrote on October 18th, 2015

Nice. I had a read of the home page, and I like what you did. I think you targeted the audience nicely, focusing on the things about hiring a sex-worker that are important to some people. :-)

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