Words Matter


You’ve seen it a million times already–in their recent Presidential debate, Clinton was ripping into Trump when Trump muttered to the camera, “Such a nasty woman.” It was a stupid thing to say for obvious reasons, but had he changed one word it could have made a world of difference.

After the debate, internet memes went crazy with the line, “Nasty women make history.” It was a reference to the Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” It was a brilliant meme. Perfect, really. And a coup for the first female presidential candidate in history.

But … had Trump said “person” instead of “women” things would have been way different. Sure, he would have still been chastised for interrupting and name-calling, but, as we’ve seen this entire campaign, that stuff doesn’t stick to him. No, the use of the word “woman” was the flaw. And it probably alienated a few of the still-sane female GOP voters who were on the fence in this election because of other things he’s said. (Probably not.)

Anyway, “Nasty people rarely make history” doesn’t work. Because if it did, it would be an endorsement for Trump. And that would have been a coup for him. Plus, no one likes calling their candidate demigod “nasty” unless they have a breaking ball worthy of the phrase.

Words matter, kids. 

Further proof that words matter is the term Obamacare vs. The Affordable Care Act. When this healthcare plan was created, Obama’s team (who are freaking genius mass mobilizers, by the way) knew that in such a hostile political environment the name of the program would matter. A lot. So they named it Affordable Care. Two really good words. Remember, positive + positive = positive. You can’t argue with it, it’s math. Anyway, it was such a good name, that the other side couldn’t even use it.

“Rant rant rant rant rant Affordable Care rant rant rant.” Nope. 

So the opposition did something pretty smart themselves, and gave the ACA a human face. In an Us v. Them world, they gave the polarizing healthcare program the face of “them.” Instant uprising. And that uprising is why congress has attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 60 times since its inception. I wonder if had they not named it Obamacare, whether it would have made it past 30 attempts.

“If thought corrupts language, then language also corrupts thought.” – Orwell

Words matter. Choose them well. 

The Rise of the Internal Ad Agency

Once upon a time you hired an agency to build amazing ad campaigns, and place that content in places people congregate. Not much has changed.

Advertising. It Ain’t What It Used To Be.

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With the Super Bowl ads breathing down our necks, it’s time to admit that traditional advertising doesn’t sell shit. Times have changed. No longer is the :30 second TV spot, or the full page print ad a guarantee of anything like a bump in sales. (If it ever was.) That is, of course, unless you’ve got a coupon.

No, advertising isn’t advertising any more.

When advertising exists as an entertainment vehicle, it’s no longer about sales. It’s about branding.

Brands hope you remember their clever ads. Just remember. Not even do anything specific. Maybe then you’ll decide one day to use that brand because you remember that funny commercial.

But that funny commercial alone isn’t reason enough for anyone to do anything. Its purpose is branding. Only.

Don’t get me wrong, as a copywriter I love getting people to think about things just slightly differently. Clever is my middle name. But driving people to do a thing isn’t the point anymore.

The age of calculating ROI from traditional advertising is dead. If it ever existed at all.

Now there are other ways to do that. Including sustainable marketing. Which is what we do here at Smash Communications. Sustainable marketing is authentic, relevant, and measurable advertising. Without the big media buy. Think of it as modern advertising. No need for TV or print which loses its “value” when the ad stops running. (I put “value” in quotes because frankly, when is the last time you were moved to do ANYTHING because of a print ad you saw in a magazine at the dentist’s office? What is this, 1950?) Sustainable marketing helps tell your brand’s story in a human way that also satisfies the search engine bots. No, it doesn’t result in a spike in revenue (or inquiries) right away. It takes some time. But once it’s in motion, it continues to provide long-term value. Which is more than even the best Super Bowl ad can do. Click here to learn more about this radical, new kind of advertising. Because it’s real. And it’s effective.

It just requires that you think a little differently.


James Mitchem