’Tis the season to be punny

by Tom Albrighton 10 December 2018 Christmas, Copywriting

Yule be back! And for copywriters, Christmas can only mean one thing: puns. Let the adventertainment begin!

Plays on words often come to mind when you first think about a brief. But ideally, you should only make a pun to make a point.

For me, the two ads below manage to do that quite well. Harry’s links a well-known Christmas phrase to a product function, and Costa links the brand name to a saying that’s just about Christmassy enough for it to work.

Harry’s ad for hair and beard clippers reads: Christmas gifts with all the trimmings

Costa in-store poster reads: Wish upon a Costa

However, it might not be possible to do something so elegant – either because you can’t think of an original pun, or because the product simply won’t support one, no matter how talented a jokester you are. So you might end up falling back on a less relevant and/or more familiar pun, like Matalan does here.

Matalan press ad reads: Christmas all wrapped up

If you do that, your gag works the same way as any other tacked-on joke would. If your reader has never heard ‘season’s eatings’ before, they might smile, and remember your mince pies. But if they have, your copy might get lost in among all the other gags out there.

However, a familiar joke might still be comforting, even if it’s dull. After all, Christmas isn’t really about originality. It’s about seeing the same old friends, doing the same old things, listening to the same old songs – and, yes, trotting out the same old jokes.

Of course, you might be out to undermine the traditional vibe, like Harvey Nicks did with ‘Spent it on myself’. But that’s a brave, possibly divisive move that needs to be done with great skill – and, again, the brand just might not support it.

Overall, a cringey old joke might be the perfect gift for your reader. And that’s great news for all of us half-drunk, party-hatted dads who somehow make a living from copy.

  • You can read more about plays on words and ‘doing different’ in chapter 9 of Copywriting Made Simple – the perfect gift for the copywriter in your life – or just for yourself. Merry Christmas! 🎄

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