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Wackaging: an ugly word for an annoying trend

April 5, 2014

On my 60th birthday I resolved to attempt to learn a new word every day. I subscribed to Michael Quinion’s weekly World Wide Words newsletter and to Anu Garg’s A Word a Day. The former popped into my inbox this morning with a paragraph that I am moved to quote in full, since it addresses a practice that irritates me to distraction, grumpy old woman that I am.

Hello, I’m a little article and I hope you’ll find me interesting. If that opening made you cringe then you are not alone. The current tendency for advertising to address the reader childishly in the first person is becoming nauseating. “Keep me in the fridge,” says the bag of salad; bananas encourage us to “eat me”; a coffee cup warns “I’m hot”; a snack tells you that it’s “your private stash of almonds, cashews, raisins …”. It has become known as wackaging, a blend from wacky packaging that was invented by the Guardian journalist Rebecca Nicholson in 2011. Everyone blames the smoothies maker Innocent, which adopted a chatty and informal style on its labels from its beginnings in 1999. These days I see the verbal tic on all sides — robot servers email me “I’m afraid I wasn’t able to deliver your message”; my local buses display the sign “Sorry, I’m not in service.” Can we go back to grown-up advertising?

Don’t get me started on apostrophe abuse …

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