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April 27, 2009

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David - first of all, welcome back! We missed you last week!

I might have agreed with your theory 5-10 years ago when people actually spent time reading and thinking, but nowadays when the main use of brain cells for the majority of the public is to decide whether to watch "Entertainment Tonight" or "TMZ" not so much!

I don't think a lot of the audiences that marketing copy is aimed at delve too deeply into what it really means, or why they approached "me" that way. Regrettably, I think a lot of these Gen Y egomaniacs (if you doubt me, go read this newsweek article from last week: http://www.newsweek.com/id/194640) just happily believe the nonsense that marketing people spout, especially if it panders to their belief of how "special" they are, or how "critical to your development" the whatever is.

Myself, I'm an old cynic and I go all the way to the other end of the spectrum and doubt, question and discount virtually anything that comes at me from a company I haven't sought out myself, I always mute commercials when watching TV, and anytime I'm considering a product or service from a company I've never used for anything, the first thing I do is Google "XYZ company sucks" to see what's out there.

Interesting theory. To add to Kristen's comment, I wonder if it is in part, a generational thing.

Think about it - we grew up reading papers, magazines, etc., and laughing at the car advertisements on television. We learned to ask questions and do research on a product that interested us. Was it going to be the right product for us? Would it work like we expected (and were told)?

I'm not saying that it is all generational. I do wonder how much of our multi-tasking plays a part as well. "I'm doing a million things at once; the product looks like it could help me; order it online." (Enter the ShamWow guy - gggrrrrrr.)

I think my parents and I did expect a bit of a "hustle" when dealing with certain sorts of marketers and salesmen; but both sides seemed to appreciate the game.

Now I wonder why people get so upset if you question them - the latest "CarFax" commercial is a good example.

Well, if this is a generational thing, that would be an important thing to know. I do think I've calmed the hyperbole in my own marketing copy over the years ... but I bet I'd still have a hard time getting "gift" past a marketing pro without having him or her add "FREE."

I think marketers just like how the words sound together. They don't care about all the other stuff. In their world, adjectives are important -- the more the better.

I like Chuck B's comment.

"They don't care about all the other stuff." I agree with Chuck.

I must admit having taken pleasure over the years in writing lines like, "Let Rob Friedman take you from zero to speechwriter in four hours."

Or, "In this freewheeling luncheon session, you'll hold your dessert fork in one hand and scribble notes with the other ....."

But I wonder if that sort of thing sounds, to the modern ear, like the arcane stylings of a 1900 carnival barker.

Interesting concept. Is this a valid psychological theory you read somewhere? Or just your own intuition? I could see it being valid & reliable, but I've never heard of any studies in this area.

My own intuition, Tyler. What could be more valid and reliable than that. "Think long, think wrong," I always say ....

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