Mythbuster: Choose words carefully

Les Binet and Sarah Carter

Les Binet and Sarah Carter of DDB get a little bit angry about some of the nonsense they hear around them... like the way people use words.

Regular readers of this column may have noticed a recurring theme over the past two years: the annoying ways that marketing and advertising people use language. Our industry is by no means uniquely guilty of this. In his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language, George Orwell listed “worn out and useless words”, and bemoaned how bad language stopped people from thinking clearly. We agree. We frequently despair when we listen to the marketing speak around us.

Grrr... Firstly, there are words that fail to inspire. There's no excuse for the ugly, over-familiar words that litter strategy documents and creative briefs. We are all guilty of defaulting to tired adjectives when describing our brands’ personalities: passionate, warm, accessible, trusted, confident, and so on. These are adland's version of Orwell's “worn out words”. Or, an example we came across of a very successful multinational company that prides itself on its marketing skills, describing its target as ‘active women - pleasure believers who have experienced what is important to them and have learned to treasure meaningful pleasures’. Not easy for any creative team to feel inspired by this choice of words.