Sign outside a restaurant in Leeds
When you’re a copywriting purist like me you often stumble across bloopers like this in Leeds. They leap out, forcing you to stare blankly and quietly curse to yourself while bystanders think you’re one of those people on night buses.

Here’s what’s wrong with this poster I spotted in Leeds Dock. It’s having an identity crisis: is it a polite notice, an announcement or an advert? It just reeks of no planning, written reluctantly by someone keen to get back to their usual duties.

I can hear the conversation now:

“We’ve re-branded but we need to tell people it’s still us.”
“Shall we hire a copywriter in Leeds to do it?”
“Nah, Jacqui in accounts can do it, she’s good at emails.”
“OK, tell her to put that bit in about tickets.”
“Tickets?”
“Yeah, validation. And booze. We do booze now.”
“Eh? What’s that got to do with tickets?”
“Just bung it all on there, it’ll be fine. Right, where can we get a photo of some classy looking booze?”

It’s all very well me taking umbrage at copywriting in Leeds that I’ve got no right to criticise, but what would I write instead?

Well, I’d start by asking what our priority is? What are we trying to say? I’d unearth the subtext to this notice: perhaps it’s meant to reassure customers that they can still eat the food they know and love?

The language isn’t especially enthusiastic either. Who wants their food ‘managed’? And why would I care who the licence holder is? I just want to have a nice time (and maybe get all pissed up too, now that I can).

That “Dear Guest” isn’t really an attention grabber either is it? And I’m no designer but directions on where to park are probably better on a sign elsewhere where people can read it while driving, not in small print several feet away from the road.

Often it pays to just spend a little time thinking about what you want to say, and planning out that information so it comes across in a way that’s meaningful to readers.