Archive for June, 2010:
Just three short little letters, and yet so very problematic. It wasn’t as if the word hot didn’t have a lot going for it already. It means high temperature and spicy. It can also mean that a computer is on or that electronics have current. In theater it means the set is ready for the production. Hot has mean passionate – as in steamy or blatantly sexual – for a long time.
I’m sure that I’ve missed a good number of alternate uses here, too – that just about every profession has something that’s ‘hot’ that means something unique to the job. I bet you probably haven’t ever sat down and tried to come up with all the different meanings of that silly little word, but sadly it’s the kind of thing my brain latches onto and won’t let go of. And it got stuck on this ‘hot’ track when my daughter was in the backseat of the car waiting for the AC to kick in, so she exclaimed “I am smokin’ hot back here!”
No, not ‘hot’, not ‘boiling’ ‘frying’ ‘about to vaporize’ or any of the other phrases us adults had been throwing around in the Ninety-plus heat that week. And she didn’t even say ‘smoking hot’ with the ‘g’ – no she gave it the kind of inflection that calls to mind just about anything Jim Carrey is in. She said she was “Smokin’ Hot!”
It’s really hard to tell an eight year old why she isn’t smokin’ hot. Should you explain what the phrase she just yelled out means? Reassure her that one day she will be smokin’ hot, but not at eight. You can’t tell her that you just don’t say that! Because then it becomes mysterious and forbidden and suddenly she’ll be saying it all the time. I decided for distraction.
English is a difficult language. I understand that. If I remember correctly we are second only to every Asian language out there. Well, that sounds stupid because there are a lot of Asian languages out there, but we are way more difficult than anything Germanic, Latin, Nordic, you name it. And, just to make it harder, we don’t stick to our own language – we import a lot of other words . . . or ‘kidnap’ may be a better term. (Importing would imply some kind of order and regulation to the use of non-english words, and that’s clearly not the case.)
All that being what it is, there are still so many places you can go to find out what you need if you aren’t sure. If you don’t speak English as your native tongue, then you should just assume you are missing something and get everything checked before you print it. And this goes double before you advertise with it!
I had a flyer come under the door at work one day. As you can guess I work with a bunch of geeks. So it was no surprise that we didn’t buy any toner or copier supplies from the company that slipped us the ad that said “Fast as Lightening!” (Ironically, they were pushing toner, which of course should darken things. Gotta love that.)
A flyer on my car one day proclaimed “Foreign company need help – looking for delivery people, editors, sales representatives.” Yes, editors do need to be on their list. So maybe that was just a cry for help. Because that one doesn’t even make it by Word’s Spelling and Grammar check.
I’m good with advertising. I get that the whole point is to make whatever you are selling the smoothest, or hottest, or bestest thing out there. Go for it! Make me want to buy.
But, before you get started trying to get into my subconscious and make me just have to have your product, lets talk about a few things that aren’t going to work in your favor.
Product placement is – in my mind – a genius idea. If my favorite characters have your product, then so should I. It was great in the remake of “The Italian Job”. The thieves used Mini Coopers because they could drive them through the bad guy’s house. And they made it cool to own a car you might accidentally crush if you didn’t watch where you step. But bad product placements abound, too. Recently, “Bones” has been talking up minivans, perhaps a bit unconvincingly? I’ve been peeved that the “Iron Man 2” trailers turned out to not be trailers at all, but Audi ads. And I think “Alias” may have gone off the air in part due to their incessant pushing of Fords. Because really, I’m going to spout off the full name of a car when I’m running from bullets? “Take the Ford F150 King Cab Extended.” Try this: “Get in the truck!”
It’s not just product placements – tag lines have suffered, too. And I don’t just mean the funny ones (see “Tag Toyota’s It” (posted 3/13/10) There are a lot that are just bad. Coors Light wants me to ‘taste the rockies’. That line has been around long enough that no one questions it anymore. But trust me, at their very best, the Rockies taste like dirt.
I am an admirer of the creative. And equally an admirer of a good prank. Things are best when these two come together flawlessly, and especially when the prank is a perfect fit for the victim.
It isn’t surprising that I love this kind of thing, since it seems to run in my family. Case in point, I have to credit my mother with this one:
She had a good friend who was turning forty. This woman was mortified that someone might find out it was her birthday (she hadn’t celebrated in years) and worse, that someone might know just how old she was.
This prank has the trifecta – perfect fit for the victim, cheap and easy! (those were the three criteria – I wasn’t calling the victim cheap and easy.)