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Let’s be Frank

Lifting the lid on all things marketing, language, copy & transcreation.

Two characters and between them the marketing copy 'Be Legacy'

Ten marketing copy clichés that belong in the bin


We’ve all heard them – those cookie-cutter marketing copy phrases that make you want to stop reading before you’ve even started. And with the rise of ChatGPT, we’re going to be hearing a whole lot more of them. If you’re lucky enough to be a human, then PROVE IT. Not by clicking on all the bicycles in this picture, but by avoiding these ten marketing copy clichés…


1. ‘Needs’ as a noun

When’s the last time you said ‘needs’ in a conversation? ‘Thanks for being such a lovely host Linda. You met every single one of my needs’. It sounds weird. What about in marketing copy? Still weird.

But the good news: it’s not necessary. It serves zero needs! Does your sunscreen fulfil sun protection needs? It protects you against the sun. Want your customers to contact you about their design needs? They can contact you about design. Cut. It. Out.


2. ‘Whether you’re …, or …’

We’ll admit, this one is tempting. Because you want to imply that your product is for lots of people, and does lots of things. We won’t deny it’s a handy phrase, but it’s so overused it instantly gives marketing copy a whiff of used car salesman. Try using separate sentences or addressing your audience directly instead:

Parents. People planning to be parents. Listen up.

Hiking in the Andes. Hitting the clubs in Ibiza. You pick the holiday, we sort the insurance.


A vintage qantas ad with the headline 'Whether you're a first flighter or a seasoned traveller, better book with someone who know.'

This ad is from the 60s. Are you from the 60s?


3. ‘But wait, there’s more!’

I refuse to wait. I don’t want more.


4. ‘Intuitive’, ‘Competitive’, ‘Innovative’, ‘Dynamic’

These are words. We’ll give them that. But they’re sort of… ‘I stopped on page 1 of trying to think up words’ words. They’re generic. They’re unimaginative. Which means if you say them, people won’t hear them. You might as well write ‘blah’ where the word should be. So work a little harder. What can you say that’s more specific? Less expected?


5. Adjectives parading as nouns and adverbs

Blame Apple. They penned the iconic line ‘Think Different’ back in the 90s. But then everyone ‘Thought Same’ and started copying the verbal trick. Soon beer was telling us to ‘be legacy’ and cars were asking us to ‘create amazing’. It’s done. It’s dead. The funeral has happened. RIP to adjectives being not-adjectives.


'Rightmove. Find your happy.'

I refuse.


6. ‘Introducing…’

This is another annoyingly useful one. Because sometimes your main message is ‘Hey, we made a new thing!’ But it’s tired and formal. ‘Say hello to…’ and ‘Meet…’ are close cousins teetering on the brink of a ban, but you can still just about get away with them. ‘Hi…’ is a fresher take.


7. ‘Premium’, ‘Ultimate’, ‘Amazing’

Or any hyperbolic adjective for that matter. We’re not saying your product isn’t amazing. We would never say that. The problem with this language is: it’s predictable. Everyone in the history of flogging stuff to people would tell those people their stuff is amazing. Which is why these over-the-top, cream-of-the-crop claims just don’t wash. You’re better off looking for descriptive adjectives (‘fast’, ‘comfy’, ‘spicy’) and letting the audience judge for themselves.


8. ‘We exist to…’

Someone somewhere wrote this once. And everyone gasped and said ‘that sounds… profound’. And it did. You could be selling detergent, but if you exist to sell detergent… well! Yours is a noble calling indeed. But it’s overused. And it’s pointless. You exist to make shoes? You make shoes. You exist to teach children to read? You teach children to read. Cutting this cliché makes you sound more genuine and direct.


9. ‘!’

Stop! Yelling!!!! At!!!!! Us!!!!!!!!!


10. Here’s to the …s.

Once upon a time Apple (yes, them again) made a really sick ad.

And then everyone copied it FOR THIRTY YEARS. Let’s all shake hands and agree to stop.