286. Nothing Rhymes With Orange

8 years of writing copy. 5 years of getting paid to do it. 3 years of writing professionally.

Today, I came face to face with the toughest challenge ever:

Writing copy for the color orange.

It’s more difficult than it sounds, okay? I thought that I knew what “difficult” was earlier this week when I had to come up with options for brown-themed home deco. That problem was quickly solved when I realized you could easily name any kind of nuts, and people would immediately associate it with the color brown. When “Hazelnut” rolled out onto the pages, I thought that I was awfully clever.

(okay, not ANY kind of nut. Geez. Get your brain out of the gutter)

Isn’t it strange that after centuries of continual evolution, the English language has yet to come up with an idiom for the color orange? I mean, we have “out of the blue”, “in the red”, “green with envy”, “grey area”, “purple prose”, “red with fury”, and all orange has to go on is “comparing apples with oranges”, which doesn’t even refer to it as a color?

It’s like having a twin brother that everyone pays attention to, and in that process, forgets all about you. Unless you’re a girl, then think of a twin sister.

I spent much of the early parts of the afternoon pacing around the pantry (because it would be weird and distracting to do it in the work area, where all the hardworking designers are), cracking my head to think of a clever way to present the orange-themed home deco.

(who the hell decorates their house with orange anyway?)

There are so many things that are orange: sunsets, flames, carrots, uh, oranges… And I couldn’t figure out a single thing that could have worked as a line of copy. I went on the internet and asked the omniscient Mr. Google about it, and all Mr. Google could say was, “The best I can do is Annoying Orange, bro.”

Thanks for that, Mr. Google.

(sidetrack: I do not, and might never, understand the popularity of the Annoying Orange. I have seen many a grotesque thing in the past 23 years of living, and nothing grates at my mind the way the sight of the Annoying Orange does)

I drank some tea. Did some word associations. Paced around some more. Gave the lady in charge some options to work with:

  • Nothing rhymes with…
  • A tangerine shade of…
  • Comparing apples with…

And nothing stuck. I helped myself to a chipsmore cookie. Paced some more. Did more word associations. Decided that one chipsmore cookie simply wasn’t enough, and had another one. Ended up reading movie reviews on AV Club. Did some more word associations, this time adding words like “sour” and “cheerful” and “juice” to the jumble of words.

But nothing worked until I looked at “tangerine” again, and decided to do some alliteration work.

(there are writing gurus who will tell you to “Avoid Alliteration, Always”. You will do well to ignore this advice completely, or even better, tell them to shut their trap)

Within the minute, I had “Tango With Tangerine” all typed out in a neat email (beside 3 other redundant options just so that the email doesn’t look so short), and had sent it off. It was approved within the next minute.

Satisfied. And no work left to do.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading Mr. Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, occasionally finding myself rattling off words that DO rhyme with orange:

Range. Strange. Lunge. Sponge. Plunge.

And, of course, Orange.


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