Wurdz that Aren’t Words

By: Mark Schildberg

Lunesta. Retsyn. Flouristat. Excedrin. Accenture. Our industry creates so many phony words and so thoroughly corrupts the very concept of language, that we now make cruel fun of anyone who uses English properly.

Ever since Apple implored us to Think Different, every copywriter on the planet fantasizes about becoming the new William Faulkner. We’ve had Rethink Possible; Reimagine Greater; I’m Loving It; and, Lord help us, Live Unböring, which is not only ungrammatical, it’s ungrammatical using a word that doesn’t exist.

This isn’t playing with language, this is trifling. It’s an attempt to offer sizzle where there is no steak, which is especially remarkable in the case of brands like Apple, which are constantly making news as they redefine their product categories. At least in recent years Apple has remembered that it’s more important to show us their thinking, rather than tell us about it.

Mind you, the industry fell down this rabbit hole a long time ago, with made-up names of secret ingredients and such. And bad grammar has been around for a while too (e.g. Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee). But with the elements of style in sharp decline, and more people possessing too small a vocabulary to articulate complex ideas, how complicit is marketing in this dumbing down of the audience? David Ogilvy used to say, “The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife.” I wonder if that still applies.

The old saying “Talk is cheap” has never been truer than today, with brands falling all over each other in the latest desperate grab at Coolness. And like so many other fads, silly and ineffectual wordplay will fall by the wayside in favor of strong ideas that resonate emotionally with audiences. Fortunately, the web and mobile devices came along just in time to give us a whole new blank canvas to work with.

Mark Schildberg is KK BOLD’s Associate Creative Director. He did not make up the word “Schildberg.”

Posted on April 14, 2011 in KK BOLD

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