Pronouns on product copy is your smoothie getting too friendly?

“I’m packed full of Vitamin C and I make up 1 of your 5 a day!”

 Pronouns on product copy is your smoothie getting too friendly?

Is your bottle of juice talking to you? Or how about your shampoo – is it regaling you with jokes or singing its own praises? In fact, when was the last time you went shopping and didn’t see packaging “blurb” written in the first person?

Using personal pronouns in marketing copy is nothing new. In fact it’s a key technique in writing persuasive copy. “You” is probably the most powerful word in the copywriter’s vocabulary, especially when it comes to selling in the benefits of your product.

At Sticky, we’re great advocates of using words like “you” and “we” to personalise and liven up copy, on websites, emails and most of all in social media. Using “you” draws the reader’s attention straight away, bringing them personally into the picture your content is painting. Everyone prefers a personal message just for them to general information about “customers” and “clients”, so it makes perfect sense to address your reader directly when appropriate.

But packaging copy has begun taking the intimacy and immediacy of the pronoun into new territory. Messages are still directed at a highly personal “you”, but they no longer come from a collective company-wide “we”. Instead, the messages come directly from the product itself. Marketers are taking the manufacturer out of the equation and giving the products their own voice, which requires the reader not only to suspend their disbelief but also to have a particular, playful sense of humour.

We definitely see the value in “you” and “we”, but “I”... we’re not quite sure about. When it works, it sounds fresh and upbeat, but when it fails to connect with its audience it’s at the risk of just sounding gimmicky and twee.

Do you like it when products talk to you? Does your smoothie make you smile when it greets you with a first-person “Hello! I’m delicious!”? Or would you prefer inanimate objects to stay quiet and let the people who made them do the talking?