Language is an incredibly important element of advertising and communication, and the words we create for our clients are rigorously debated and crafted so that they are as targeted and meaningful as possible. I am not, however, a strict follower of any certain rulebook or style guide. Our words are created specifically for certain target audiences, and in doing so, can take on a variety of voices, cadences, and punctuation. (That was an Oxford comma I just ran past you, by the way) We’ve altered punctuation on purpose, misspelled things for certain reasons, and regularly start sentences with “and.”
One thing I haven’t done yet is use an adjective in place of a noun. But I’m seeing it EVERYWHERE. “Find your fast,” “Let’s make excellent happen.” Even though I am not a strict style-guy, I have to admit that it hits my ears funny. We strive for genuine connections with audiences, so that usually means phrases that you wouldn’t say aloud to a friend, you shouldn’t say in your ad. I would never look at a running buddy and say “Hey, let’s find our fast today.” And now that I’ve seen it once, each new example I run across bellows out to me. (Hence this post) So I’ll ruminate a bit on why I think this trend (if you can even call it that) might be happening:
Theory 1: Personalization
Everywhere you look brands are trying to make customers feel as if they own a piece of the brand. Loyalty programs, membership cards with “MY” in front of the brand’s name, the abundance of “your” and “my” language.” Might this movement be just another excuse to put “your” and “my” in the text?
Theory 2: I’m OK, You’re OK
It hasn’t escaped my attention that most of the examples below are from the types of media I follow, namely triathlon and running magazines and sites. Does this mean it’s more common in athletic brands? I don’t know, but it could be a response to the growing number of active people in the United States. With more people understanding the need for some type of physical exercise, maybe they’d like to take ownership of words that previously could only really be used by ultra-athletes: words like “fast” and “excellent” and “strong.” Maybe “my fast” is a proud statement that “even though I’m not at an elite level, I am at MY level, and it’s working well for me.”
Theory 3: It just happened
How does popular culture take hold? One person does it, someone thinks it’s cool, so on and so on. Admit it, you once thought pegged jeans were cool because someone you thought was cool did it. (I will admit to being a former pegger) So maybe some copywriter at one of the major agencies just got bored with what they were writing, decided to play with the format a bit, mixing adjectives and nouns until he/she arrive at something that felt fresh. And maybe it was for a large enough campaign that it was seen across the country, and over the course of several years, embedded itself as an option in the heads of copywriters everywhere.
Any other theories out there? I’d love to hear them. Either way, if you read this far, I’m 100% sure that the next time you come across one of these, it will jump out at you. But in a good way or a bad way?