George Parker: why it’s time to put “best of breed” verbiage back in its box

With the never-ending confusion amongst the practitioners and the purchasers of what used to be called advertising as to what better way to put a handle on exactly what the fuck it is they are doing, we are being constantly bombarded with new titles, descriptors and inane titles for people and procedures.

In common with the business world in general, advertising, and its various practitioners have enjoyed a long history of language embellishment, if not outright bastardization. For years, we have been subjected to the so-called “mission statements” of service or consulting businesses rattling on and on about their totally unique, synergistic, holistic, best-of-breed, out-of-the-box thinking. But, I have to admit, when it comes to “best-of-breed” verbiage, advertising agencies have consistently been the leaders in “out-of-the-box” thinking.

Not content with jumping into the existing snake pit of business-speak, they are continually inventing new ways of presenting the same stuff they have been pimping since their ancestors were the AOR (Agency of Record) for the tumescent brothels of Pompeii (The two thousand year old graffiti demonstrating this fact is still there, preserved under the volcanic ash!) Just a few short years ago, J. Walter Thompson announced that heretofore, they would no longer be in the ad biz, because they had moved on to the much loftier heights of something called “Commercial Anthropology.” As I said at the time, if I was interested in discovering who first came up with the use of hand tools, I would go up the street to Columbia University. In the meantime, just what the hell are you doing to sell more of my corn flakes?
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At the same time, Saatchi & Saatchi, in the UK, was setting up something called Industry-Saatchi, a business unit which would deal with everything from sounds to smells… In their wisdom, Saatchi described it as “business jazz.” Apparently, this breakthrough in thinking-outside-the-box would help clients tap their creative potential by exposing them to everything from tango performances to the smell of fresh baked bread. The remarkable rationale for this exotic exercise was that, whilst engaging their audio and olfactory sensibilities, participants would broaden their thinking, which would in turn lead to the harnessing of the corporate imagination for “very serious ends.” Needless to say, this venture disappeared almost as quickly as did the JWT Commercial Anthropologists re-naming exercise on Lexington Avenue.

But, back to the point of this particular rant… Verbiage.

Now it would appear that agencies are shifting gears into “Warp factor Five” in their never-ending quest to destroy the Queen’s English.

They no longer gather stuff together, they “Curate.”

They have ceased to think, they are now “Ideating.”

They no longer probe the new; they prefer to be “Experiential.”

They are not skilled in their craft; they are now expensively “Artisanal.”

Speaking of which… Have you now noticed of late that Dominos are now selling artisanal pizzas! Yes, “Artisanal Bloody Pizzas!” Which begs the question: Does that apply to the cardboard the delivery box is made out of, or the cardboard used to make the pizza crust?

2962bd228115c4675a577549862031e4Still, moving on, nothing is as jaw-dropping as this honest-to-God, true-life classic from the chapter in “Confessions of a Mad Man,” that talks about all the fun and games I enjoyed, when living in the Bay Area of California, back in the early nineties…

“There’s an extra heavy vehicular loading situation on the Bay Bridge” droned the voice of the traffic dude floating out of the multi-thousand dollar Blaupunkt audio system in my pristine banana yellow Porsche Targa, as I sped up the fast lane of highway 280 with the clip-off roof clipped-off, whilst enjoying the sybaritic pleasures of yet another perfect day in the High-Tech Paradise of the Bay area.

Ahhh, only in “dudesome” California would some super-cool, traffic jock high above me in “KBR chopper #4” inflict such a mouthful of asinine drivel on his listeners, rather than simply telling them… Hey, there’s a shit-load of cars clogging up the bridge between San Francisco and Oakland. So, get the fuck off the freeway in Redwood City, and hit one of your favorite drinking spots… Now that you’ve vested, may as well enjoy some of that Bollinger you’re heavily into since the money machine started up.

That’s the best-of-breed thinking that works for me… Synergistically speaking.

Oh, and never forget that now we have arrived at “Generation Z,” there are no more letters in the alphabet left. Can we therefore stop talking shit?

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About George Parker

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George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award. His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, Confessions of a Mad Man, makes the TV show Mad Men look like Sesame Street.