Please, just don’t ‘amaze’ me anymore
I have been in the advertising business for almost 20 years now. I have seen trends come and go. I have heard all the buzz words you can hear. But one thing that really bugs me is what advertising has done to language, our ultimate civilizational heritage that keeps us not only connected, but that gives shape and life to our beautiful minds. And here I mean language overall. Being a non-native English speaker, the frustration is definitely not limited to one particular tongue.
Maybe it is because I had my major in literature or because I am a big fan of poetry and great novels. But words seem to have meant something a while ago. When reading for example a short story of Borges’, one instantly feels that the words were cherry-picked and that they were written to take you precisely to one singular place of wonder, imagination and inspiration. The poetry of Hesse for example clearly aimed to craft the words as if they were butterflies on a colorful playground.
You would think that in our time, when advertising has become the vanguard of creativity, paving the ways of culture before the industries of entertainment and even art, we would be inspired more, we would be able to say more and in different ways. All the copywriting professionals who have studied the art of perfect wording and expression should have been able to take our language to new, unimagined places. You would think that all their battles for social media presence and ultimate goals to ‘go viral’ will be of benefit to broad public of social media users, as there will be more interesting things to read/watch and more often. But lo and behold, this is not the case.
Every morning when I come to work I look at the feeds of my social media accounts. Facebook I have stopped checking out quite some time ago, but Linkedin and Twitter are the ones I turn to, to see how the world that surrounds me is doing and whether it is moving ahead. And every morning I get a headache. It is a very sad world, language wise, my friends. The same 10 quotes, identical to the same 10 ad messages are being repeated over and over again: be happy, be diligent, be optimistic, share good will, smile more, be better. All of that is really, really nice, but does anyone ever do anything about it? And then people sharing stuff just for the sake of sharing and getting their profiles boosted, with such ingenious comments “Amazing”, “Brilliant”, “Great read”, “So true” and other obvious and less obvious comments followed by big exclamation marks. Just think of it. The word ‘amazing’ used to mean something. At least to me. When I was a child it was the label for the really outstanding, taking me to exotic places and unveiling secret worlds. It was the word to stimulate senses beyond wildest expectations, making my mind turn like a carousel. Think of it — does the word ‘amazing’ move you in any way now anymore? For me it does not mean a thing. Not anymore. And I hate social media and advertising for having killed it, for having killed my childhood amazement.
So please my friends, if you see a beautiful post on social media you really like, don’t go on and write ‘Amazing’. It’s redundant, and on top of it, it really gets on my nerves. Can it be that you do not have anything else to say? If you like it so much, then darn share it for other people to see it. And even if you do not share it, then at least say what you like about it. Would it be so hard to write ‘I remember seeing this video with my father, just before I moved away. It makes me nostalgic and it make me smile’. Admit it, how many times you have just shared or liked something without seeing the video to its very end, or reading the entire article? Don’t be fake.
Our beautiful language is our treasure and words, its beautiful pearls, we have mistreated to their breaking points, so their meanings are well deflated now. They have been worn by usage, they have lost their edge. It is like everything else you have too much of, it simply loses its value. Diamonds are valuable only because they are scarce, the more you print money the less it is worth. Well, it is the same with words. The more you use and abuse them, the less they will mean. So, be careful with the words you use, or they will break too soon.
And especially you creatives, ad specialists and copywriters, my dear professionals, you have the great responsibility here. Please don’t play the first ball. If you do a 10 minutes brainstorming, trust me, the things you have come up with and that sound so fabulously logical, someone else has already said/thought of before. We do not need another ‘amazing’ slogan. Don’t be lazy — take just another 5 minutes and take your first ball then as the starting point and see where it takes you when you make the next step. There are so many words out there, beautiful words. I know that advertising is all about optimism and happy faces and that in the dictionary there is only so many words that spell ‘happiness’, but they will lose that meaning too if you use them too often. Look it up! There are so many other, really good words that are sitting there, unused and alone and sad and dying out. They might not scream ‘happiness’ at the first glance, but they too do have their inner beauty which is all about the discovery and making the world just a little bit more sparkly. Trust me, both your clients and your infamous target audiences will appreciate it. I for sure will. For as long as I keep on seeing your ‘amazing’ messages I will be ignoring your ‘amazing’ products. And you can bet on it!