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An innocent Lesson in Playful Copywriting

Copywriting tips
May 20, 2021
Amy Hawthorne

On 12th April 2021, people in the UK were allowed to drink beer (or whatever they wanted, really) outdoors in a beer garden. So, we grabbed our brollies and our blankets, to meet up with our friends and talk about how lovely it was to be able to see people again.

While we were all sipping on drinks through chattering teeth, the country’s most responsive brands got to work. 

Which brings us to lesson 1...


In this blog, I’m talking about the genius copywriters and marketers behind innocent drinks. They started selling smoothies in 1998, when they took some drinks to a festival and asked festival goers to vote on whether the team should quit their jobs to sell smoothies full-time.

The brand has been doing things a little differently for a while, but I started paying more attention once they got involved in the April 12th hype, with some Tweets that took a fun, relatable approach that made people laugh.

Source: Twitter @innocent

The thing is: your audience can spot promotional marketing a mile away.

Scheduling social media posts via Hootsuite is all well and good, but reactive marketing is what drives conversation and shows the human behind the brand.

A growing content marketing trend, reactive marketing involves responding to real-time events, news, topics, and TV shows. Because people are already engaged in that topic, your two-pence will pull in more impressions - with more opportunities to go viral.

Here’s how to do it right:

  • Trawl Twitter. The perfect excuse to procrastinate. Keep up-to-date with trending hashtags and conversations, to find ways to add a unique spin that fits your brand.
  • Keep it simple. Keep your messages to-the-point - and, ideally, make them funny. Test them out on colleagues before going live to see if it gets a giggle.
  • Be sensitive. Trending topics are a hotspot for debate. Try your best not to offend a big chunk of your followers.
  • Move quickly. Zero points for sending out a meme a week after everyone stopped talking about said event.


Find the best hang-out spot for your brand, and dominate it.

innocent drinks have mastered light-hearted humour. Clearly, they’ve found their place on the Twitter platform, where they can have a laugh with their followers and indulge in some back-and-forth conversation.

In a chat with PR Week, Helena Langdon, communities manager at innocent, had this to say about the channels that work best for the brand:

“Our brand naturally fits best on Twitter, because it’s the place where we can react to what’s going on in the news and entertain our followers with our nonsense, and have proper two-way conversations with people.

Some people get in touch with genuine customer service questions, but most of the time we’re just having great chat with people – so it gives us the space to have a bit of fun and really show people what innocent is all about as a brand.”

Choosing the best social media channel for your business comes down to a bit of testing and research - although, in all honesty, it’s all about what makes sense for you. 

Think about the following:

  • Where does your audience hang out online?
  • How often can you post and respond to customers?
  • Which channels best align with your brand? Are you selling false eyelashes or business IT software? For the former, Instagram will likely be your star performer. For the latter, head to LinkedIn.
  • Which channels are currently bringing you the most traffic? Google Analytics can help out here.

A bit of experimentation will show you what type of content your audience resonates most with. Don’t be afraid to show some personality - users are tired of seeing the same old re-hashed, vanilla content.


On April Fool’s Day 2021, innocent drinks took the opportunity to catch us all out. They teamed up with Heinz to bring us a smoothie/soup hybrid. They branded it SMOUP.

Anna Clare, innocent’s head of good ideas said:

“Liquid fruit plus liquid veg? It’s liquid gold. Drink it hot, drink it cold, drink it with a spoon, dip bread in’s more versatile than a Swiss Army Knife, and a lot easier to swallow. Don’t know why we didn’t think of it sooner. It’s the greatest British food combination since fish and chips. Maybe we’ll blend those next.”

The point is: the greatest brand collaborations of all time are the weirdest ones.

Cheetos & Forever 21

Lego & Stranger Things

Sharpie & Nike

Doritos & Taco Bell

FILA & Chupa Chups


Doing a brand collab - and doing it well - is a great way to get more exposure. Don’t confuse this with influencer marketing. Brand collaborations involve two businesses joining forces to create something unique for a campaign, in a way that benefits both parties.
Want to dip your toe in? There’s a platform called Collabosaurus that connects brands looking for a cool collaboration.


Your product is of the highest quality, the most innovative, the most life-changing. We get it. We don’t need to keep hearing about it.

Constantly pushing your product or services is kind of lazy marketing. It’s also one of the worst things that brands can do, with too much self-promotion causing 45% of users to unfollow brands on social media.

A little self-promotion is fine - and necessary. The key is in balance. Aim for around 20% promotional posts, and dedicate the rest to entertaining, educating or having conversations with your community.

Source: Instagram @innocent

innocent’s social media feed is an engaging mix of competitions, jokes, behind-the-scenes content, funny videos, ridiculous WhatsApp screenshots from the innocent boss...and a little promo.


Does it read a little like your competitors'? Re-do it.

Is it all about you? Re-do it.

Will it make readers fall asleep after one line? Re-do it.

Just redo the lot.

I know how hard it is to write copy for your own website - especially the dreaded “About” page. If you want to make yours stand out (and you should!), take some cues from innocent’s cheeky about page.


Remember that your readers do want to know about you - that’s why they’re on your page. But keep it interesting. Even the boring bits, like innocent did…


Coming up with a creative ‘about’ page can be a struggle. That’s why so many on the internet just sound the same.

Avoid the tired old formula: “we are x, we do y, please buy from us”.

Think about what makes you unique, and revolve your page around that. What gets you up in the morning? Why did you start doing it in the first place? Was your gran the first person to buy your product? Did you come up with the idea when you were sitting on the toilet?

Photos and videos of your office or store, and the faces behind the company are always welcome here, too.


Stop looking at my bottom.

That’s just one of the cheeky pieces of copy hidden on innocent’s product packaging. It gets a giggle, it gets a share, it gets remembered.

Source: Reddit (see, told you these things get shared)

This fun little technique is known as “wackaging”, but I’m not going to pretend I knew that before I dived into this research.

You’ll find loads of online rants about how annoying wackaging is, such as this Guardian writer having a moan. However, from my perspective - and that of a few other copywriters I’ve spoken with - it’s an effective touch, when done properly.

Whether or not you sell a physical product, you can still look for ways to surprise your audience through copy. Why not find replacements for those things consumers see every day? Get creative with the page titles on your site’s menu, experiment with CTAs, write funny FAQs.

It’s all about becoming the purple cow. If you can make a person stop and pay attention to your brand, you become a purple cow in a boring sea of black and white ones.

Fancy doing something a bit different?

I’m in the mood to do something whacky with your copywriting. If you feel like mixing up your tone-of-voice and letting your real personality shine through your website and social media, get in touch. Let’s make something cool.

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