02 Mar

A Different Type of English

A new-ish Australian ad campaign is out, discouraging people from littering, and it’s, well… very Australian:


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Only an Aussie ad, it seems, could be written in such a colloquial tone, with the liberal use of the word ‘tosser’.

But it’s far from a one-off, in terms of tone.
Take a look at this sign, part of a campaign, also in Australia:

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It certainly gets the point across – again, in that inimitable Aussie style.

Several years ago (and, sadly, I can’t find it online), an Aussie ad ran for the rugged Toyota Hilux truck, or ‘ute’.
The ad simply showed the truck and said ‘windows go up, windows go down – there’s your bloody climate control’.

Also several years ago, this anti-domestic violence abuse ad came out, featuring the notorious Australian criminal, Mark Brandon ‘Chopper’ Reid:

And more recently, this ran – trying to get more young people to come to the Northern Territories, or ‘NT’, for tourism:

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Why have I collated all of these ads in this one post?
Because they all fall under ‘only in Australia’.
Only in Australia could you get away with that colloquial, matey tone, and only in Australia could you get away with that use of language in ads (although the CU in the NT ad did come under scrutiny).

And that’s the thing: English is not just English wherever you go.
It would not be easy to be a copywriter, or simply a writer, in another English-speaking country just because you speak the language.
The U.S, Canada, Australia, New Zealand all have their own natural tone of voice. To write anything public-facing in these countries, you’d have to know that tone, the way people speak to one another, their in-jokes, their general sense of humour, their cultural reference points.
You couldn’t be a successful Australian, American, Canadian, or New Zealander copywriter, just because you happen to speak English.

English is not just English.
Or, as Inspector Clouseau said; ‘wax is not just wax’.

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