Friday, May 18, 2012

The ad writer's 25-word vocabulary.

            Yesterday I read an essay about movie trailers. It was talking about how all movies are classified into genres. Those are their types. The romantic comedy, the spy thriller, the cowboy movie, and so on.

             From there, there are certain kinds of scenes the movie preview has to contain to be true to form in that genre. For cowboy flicks, that includes the riding in the hills, the goodbye to the girlfriend, the gun fight, and the ambush.

             The essay reminded me that in advertising we have our genres as well, both visually and verbally. In fact, it seems that each kind of advertising has its own 25-word vocabulary.

             The beer vocabulary would include "robust", "refreshing", "flavorful", "thirst-slaking", "full-bodied", "quenching", "cold", "limestone water", "real beer taste", and even "hearty" --- as in "the hearty part of the party". There's cosmetics ("age-defying" and "luscious") , soft drinks ("refreshes you through and through"), and cigars ("satisfying") ---  well, you get the idea.

             Beginners rely on these vocabularies, even silent ones. Fashion tries not to use any words --- they would defile the art. The 25-word vocabulary for fashion includes places (the Amalfi Coast),  climatic conditions (Moon over the mountains), and models at least 16 years old.

             JC Penney, trying desperately to be different from the others in the mass retail space, now runs ads without mentioning its name. Isn't that a breakthrough! Being the first to make customers wonder whatever happened to JC Penney.

            So while new advertising people are breaking their picks trying to fit in, the real pros are trying to stand out in meaningful ways. They're always striving to go against the grain.

            I know, I know. It's hard to write a space age genre commercial without using the words "galaxy" and "far, far away", or Latin-sounding planet names. But try. I know you can do it if you put your mind to it!

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