Having fun with language

How O2, Sainsbury’s and Lego used language to their advantage in different situations. 


O2 customer Tunde probably wasn’t expecting the response he received when he tweeted a complaint to the network via Twitter, saying: “@O2 Bastard big man ting I swear direct me to your owner what happened to my internet connection fam mans having to use the wifi and dat”, which, loosely translated, means he was frustrated because his internet connection had gone down.

O2 responded in the same language, replying: “@Tunde24_7 Have you tried to reset the router ting fam, so mans can use the wifi and dat?” Much to Tunde’s surprise, O2 could speak slang.


A letter from a three-year-old girl not only got a brilliant response from the retailer, it also led to the supermarket changing the name of a product. Lily Robinson wrote to say the supermarket’s tiger bread looked more like a giraffe and should be called giraffe bread, signing off with her age as three and a half. Chris King from the customer service team replied and said it was a great idea, included a £3 gift card and signed off the letter with his age, 27 and a third. The supermarket then responded to public demand to change the name of the bread after the letter and response went viral.


When seven-year-old Luka Apps emailed Lego after losing a minifigure from the Ninjago range, the brand’s response spread fast. The language used was similar in tone to Sainsbury’s and reflected its brand identity. Richard, a Lego customer service representative sent an email back to Luka saying he had spoken to Sensei Wu, one of the characters from the Ninjago range, who had told him it was OK for him to be sent a replacement and something extra.


Supermarkets and language

Josie Allchin

Supermarkets are 56 per cent generic in their use of language, using words such as ‘customers’ and ‘products’, according to consultancy Lingua Brand, which uses analytics to gauge the verbal identity of a brand by looking at its communications and comparing it with competitors in that sector.   


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