Rule Number One for Good Product Writing: Make People Actually Want Your Product

As a copywriter, I pay particular attention to both good and bad writing. The good is inspirational and bad copy is a reminder of what not to do. Both make excellent fodder for blog posts.

The new radio spot for Gold Peak iced tea is my latest example of “the bad.” I tried to find a link to it, but couldn’t so I’ll just describe it instead.

A mock interview between a radio host and a famous chef, the spot goes something like this:

Host: So I’m here with world-famous chef Natalie Madeupname, who is sharing her holiday menu with us. Natalie, how will your meal begin?

Natalie: With a delicate fois gras mousse.

Host: Delicious! And let me guess, you’ll be pairing that with a white Bordeaux?

Natalie: No! Gold Peak iced tea!

Host: Okay … how about your main course?

Natalie: Boeuf Bourguignon and glazed new potatoes.

Host: And I’m imagining a red burgundy with that?

Natalie: No! Gold Peak iced tea.

And on and on.

Now, before I tear this apart, let me first let me say that radio spots are particularly challenging to get right. I think this is why 99% of them are so awful. As the writer, you have no visuals to work with and a highly distracted audience to deal with: traffic, noisy kids in the backseat and a backseat driver in the front. That’s before you even get to the five to 15 other pre-sets.

Gold Peak did do a few things right: They got my attention and the writing was pretty good. I was reeled in by the amazing dishes “Natalie” described, and the dream continued with the host’s suggested wine pairings. (Only to be promptly shattered time and again by the actual product they were trying to sell me on.)

And that’s the problem: The concept itself — that if tea is good enough, it can be a replacement for wine. Now I love iced tea, but it has its place. Sipped from a porch swing on a hot summer day? Yes! As a workday pick-me-up? Sure! With a plate of piping-hot vanilla scones? Sold! But with an exquisite holiday meal? Nope, sorry guys.

Yes, this response — and I’m guessing I’m not alone here — is a big problem for Gold Peak. After all, if it does nothing else, good product writing needs to make your audience actually want your product. This one just made me want to throw my fifth glass of iced tea out the window, grab my dining companions and head to the nearest bar.

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