Have you ever heard of Discord? If not, you should probably check it out; it’s the popular voice-chat app that can be used for online gaming as well as group chats with friends. (For those of you who may not know, Discord is a fork of the popular text-messaging app, Kik.)
The thing is, Discord’s marketing copy is hilarious…if you know what I mean.
Here, I’ll run down the most embarrassingly bad copy from the app’s point-of-view. So you can better understand why we engineers (and the rest of Discord’s development team) sometimes poke fun at the marketing department. (Who isn’t in marketing, by the way?)
Marketing’s Take on Inclusivity
When it comes to marketing copy, you would think that someone in the inclusivity department would catch hell for even trying to be inclusive. After all, what is inclusion anyway?
The problem is that nobody in the marketing department actually knows what inclusion means. So the writers and copy editors are left trying to explain to senior management what it means and why it’s important. Sometimes, this attempt at explanation could even become part of the product description.
“We’re Not Anti-Aging, We Are Pro-Radiant Skin”
Here, I’ll let you in on a secret: the marketing team doesn’t actually read the app’s description. They don’t need to. They get a good feeling from observing user behavior on the app’s homepage.
So, in an effort to be the best at user acquisition, the inclusivity team behind the scenes finds themselves writing pointless, cliched phrases, such as “We’re not anti-aging, we are pro-radiant skin.”
What does any of that mean?
It doesn’t matter, because users don’t think. They only know that this is an app that will help them look better and feel better. So they’re going to click the big red button to download it, no matter what the app actually does.
“Our App Lets You Customize Your Gaming Experience”
Now, if you are a gamer, you may be familiar with the term “customization.” When a game is customized, the player has some control over the look and feel of the game. Think of the popular first-person shooter, Counter-Strike, for example.
It’s the same with Discord. When you first load the app, you’ll see a list of games available to download. But beyond that, you have very little control over how the app looks or what features it has.
So, when you first open the app, you’ll see a description of all of its features, followed by a list of games that you can download. Take a look:
- “We’re not anti-aging, we’re pro-radiant skin…”
- “…customize your gaming experience with various game modes and team options…”
- “…join the over 300 million users already online…”
- “Thousands of games available to download”
Notice anything odd about that last bulleted point?
I don’t think so. It’s the order of the words within the point that is odd. The word “thousands” comes first, which is a very unusual word order. But it gets worse. Consider the meaning of the sentence as a whole.
Here’s what I believe happened. A copy editor/marketing writer tried to write a catchy and inclusive sentence, but failed. So, to save face, the copy editor/marketing writer reordered the words, putting the most positive spin first and then moving on to the more technical aspects of the app. (Side note: there’s a reason why copy editors and marketing writers are often found working together. It’s called spin control.)
“Your Phone Can Be Yours. Just Bring It And We’ll Take Care Of The Rest”
I don’t know about you, but whenever I see an ad online, or in a magazine, that ends with “Your Phone Can Be Yours,” I immediately reach for my phone without thinking about it. Why? Because that’s what I’m used to.
Well, here’s a funny thing about Discord: when you download the app, you’ll see a screen that looks like this:
- “Use your phone’s camera to scan any barcode to verify ownership”
- “Your phone can be yours. Just bring it and we’ll take care of the rest”
- “Get a free domain name and free backups with every plan”
- “Enjoy your freedom of movement with no restrictions…”
So, as you can see, the app doesn’t ask for your phone number. It doesn’t need to. The point is that whenever someone sees an app or a magazine ad that ends with “Your Phone Can Be Yours,” they’re going to grab their phone and go through the motions of scanning a barcode or entering a phone number.
Why? Because that’s what they’re used to. If you’re trying to be clever and say something new, they’ll ignore you. But if you end an advertisement with a clever line, such as “Your Phone Can Be Yours,” they’ll definitely click the ad or download the app. So it’s better to just write an ad that ends with a pun or a witty line.
“Download For Free Today And You’ll Love What Discord Has To Offer”
The last point I want to make about this particular section of marketing copy is that the developers and designers of Discord did a great job at making a quick, snappy phrase into a complete thought. Whenever you see a short, snappy phrase, complete with a complete thought, you can be certain that it’s a poorly written ad.
“Over 300 Million Users Already Online”
Now, if you click on the games section from the app’s homepage, you’ll be taken to a screen that looks like this:
- “Join the over 300 million users already online…”
- “…download games instantly and start playing”
- “…or find a game that suits your fancy”
So here’s what happened. After getting permission from the creative director, the copy editor/marketing writer put the phrase “over 300 million users already online” in there. (Don’t forget about the quick thinking and ingenuity of the creative director, which is why he gets the credit for this line.)
Now, the thing about the phrase “over 300 million users already online” is that it’s a total lie. There are actually only 250 million users online, according to Alexa.
What Is Inclusivity Anyway?
So what is inclusivity anyway?
“Inclusivity” is something that everyone in the marketing department latches onto and pretends to care about. But at the end of the day, they don’t actually give a shit. (Actually, that’s not true. Sometimes they care a lot…but usually not.)
Here’s how inclusivity works. A creative director, marketing manager, or a CEO will declare that they want to see more people of color in commercials or on billboards. So they will go around the company, saying, “Hey, can we feature an African-American on our commercials?,” or “Can we feature a woman in this ad?”
The thing is, the only people who really care about inclusion are the people who have to deal with the fallout. When an African-American or a woman is featured in a commercial or a billboard, it will often upset at least one of the executives or the upper-management team. (Why? Because they’re not used to seeing those types of people in those types of situations. It’s not that they’re racists; it’s just that they’ve never been around those types of people. So it throws them off a little bit.)
This is why whenever you hear about an inclusive company, you can bet that at least one of the individuals in charge secretly hates the very idea of inclusivity. Just like Tim Cook. Just like Sheryl Sandberg. (I mean, come on…nobody actually likes to think about shit like this, but it’s reality. Everyone in the C-suite has skeletons in the closet.)