In this opinion piece, Brian Corrigan, opr’s head of editorial, shares his thoughts on the social media storm around Coles’ new ‘Indian Style Triangles’.
I spend a lot of time looking for ways to say things using fewer, simple words. It’s a skill developed over many years. So it grabbed my attention when Coles found itself in the middle of a social media storm over the name of a new product.
In case you missed it, the supermarket chain recently launched boxes of ‘Indian Style Triangles’. More than 25,000 people responded on social media, with many pointing out that these savoury treats are more commonly known as samosas.
Some saw the funny side, suggesting that pizza be renamed as ‘Italian Style Circles’. Others were less amused and accused the brand of cultural appropriation.
Coles responded by pointing out that it already sells a range of samosas using the more traditional name. It decided the new ones – which have a jackfruit filling – should be called by a different name to avoid confusion.
Mind your language
Whether or not you think the ‘Indian Style Triangles’ name is racially insensitive, the fact that so many people got involved in the conversation should remind all marketers and communicators about the power and potential perils of language.
Most people prefer brands to use plain English. That’s true whether they’re buying a tin of beans or investing millions of dollars in enterprise software.
The power of plain English is one of the themes in WPP AUNZ’s latest Secrets & Lies report – The New Rules of Language.
In a survey of more than 4000 Australian adults, it found that 87 per cent favour brands and companies that describe products and services in a way that’s easy to understand. And yet 82 per cent complain that some industries use complicated or confusing words.
Different like every other brand
I’ve heard thousands of people telling and selling their business stories over the years, mostly as a business and technology journalist but more recently as a senior communications consultant.
Time and again I’ve been told about some combination of ‘unique, next-generation, market-leading, solutions delivering real-time, actionable insights and end-to-end business outcomes at scale’.
It always made for a fun game of buzzword bingo as a journalist. I would award bonus points for anyone adding in cloud-based, data-driven or some other hot technology trend of the day.
Tech brands throw these terms around in the misguided belief that it makes them stand out from the crowd. Nothing could be further from the truth. These pitches left me cold as a reporter, and I’ll bet most people making technology purchasing decisions feel the same.
Heading back to the supermarket aisles, renaming samosas feel like a misstep when Australia is so gloriously multicultural. A quick check of the latest census data shows that three per cent of the
country identifies as Indian. And nobody is ever going to get excited about putting ‘Indian Style Triangles’ on the dinner table
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