You’ll see them frequently used in sayings, in ads, on greeting cards and on product labels even. They add humour to the message. Do you know what I’m talking about? Well, yes, it’s a play on words (wordplay). 

If you haven’t heard of a play on words (sometimes called a pun) – it’s a form of speech or writing that involves words with similar sounds but with different meanings. 

Using a play on words adds humour and wit to your writing, making it more memorable, which is great if you’re writing marketing content. Adding them to academic papers or business reports may not go down so well as they’re not suited to the context. So, if you’re going to use a play on words, consider the media and the audience you’re writing for. 

This isn’t to say that they can’t be used in business writing because they can. Just don’t overdo it. A sentence cleverly constructed with a play on words will have more impact than text that’s overflowing with humorous wordplay. 

Brands that are fans of a play on words

You can use a play on words anytime, but they seem to popular around specific occasions and events like Christmas, New Years, Valentines and Easter. Maybe because they offer an extra opportunity for wordplay. Some brands love to use a play on words all year round, not just at times like Easter. To show you, here are some cracking examples (see what I did there?). 

Wallis 

Wallis play on words email header
Source: Wallis newsletter

This is image was used in an email to promote the trend of wearing monochrome (black and white) clothing. It’s super short and simple but gives the feeling that wearing black and white outfit is special and chic. 

Natural History Museum 

Natural History Museum Billboard play on words
Source: Natural History Museum

This is a billboard advertising the re-opening of the Natural History Museum in July 2020,  after the first Covid lockdown. I’ve got to say it’s still one of my favourite pieces of writing by a brand. It’s incredibly straightforward and very brand-related. The skeleton of the blue whale is a big favourite for people visiting the museum, and the simple message works perfect with this image. 

Natural History Museum Easter Email
Source: Natural History Museum

Not missing a chance to use an Easter pun, here’s a snippet of an email from the Natural History Museum promoting their gift shop.

Fabletics

Fabletics email header play on words
Source: Fabletics newsletter

Fabletics are using Spring to promote their VIP membership. The warmer days and longer nights means more people will be exercising. So now is the perfect time to be promoting their sportswear. 

Innocent

Innocent helpfil little hats play on words
Source: Innocent Drinks

Innocent don’t take themselves seriously, but this doesn’t say they aren’t serious about the context of their messages. They are, but they write them in a relaxed and witty way. 

The headline, ‘helpful little hats’, tells people that every time they buy an innocent drink with a woolen hat on it, they’ll donate 25% to Age Action. Yes, people did really knit woolen hats for Innocent drink bottles! 😂

If you want to inject some humour into your writing but aren’t sure how. I’m here to help. Send me a message, and we can arrange an initial chat to discuss what you’re after. 

About me: I’m Emma a copywriter and content manager based in Harrow, London. I have a passion for content and for creating amazing content for brands that have a strong sustainable, social and ethical ethos.