It’s a habit of mine to just scroll down the Facebook news feed to see what everyone else is talking about, laughing out loud about or pissed about. A friend shared about the unequal stature of Ricoa’s Flat Tops and Curly Tops. One friend shared a Cheech and Chong meme that showed before and after photos; the pot head looked better, if not the best, than the alcoholic, crack addict and a needle-dependent man. Facebook sometimes has gems of thought floating around in cyberspace.
What really caught my eye today was a rant about “ARTISANAL.” I’ve noticed this word grow in popularity in food products and food joints and I noticed that it was sort of rare for someone in my network to rant about about this one. I found on my friend’s post a comment that said “Artis-anal.” I guess putting the word there just became anal practice for people promoting a particular product. My friend has a strong point that it shouldn’t be like a sticker on everything to make them special.
Anyway, this amazing marketing buzzword comes from extending the word “ARTISAN” into an adjective. A quick check with Merriam-Webster gives us this:
noun \ˈär-tə-zən, -sən, chiefly Britishˌär-tə-ˈzan\Full Definition of ARTISAN1: a worker who practices a trade or handicraft : craftsperson2: one that produces something (as cheese or wine) in limited quantities often using traditional methods— ar·ti·san·al adjective— ar·ti·san·ship noun
In my mind, if everyone is an artisan, artist or a freaking Da Vinci with a golden spatula or a mixer or a hammer, then how could all these things be “special.” A classic case is a pizza joint that makes you choose ingredients to have them run through their oven. I guess the customer is the artisan and the place lends you their oven. Well, good for the customer in a feel-so-good moment. Extending the use of the word, that “dirty” ice cream you see on the street is sort of “artisanal” in nature because they’re made in a traditional manner, too. It’s just a case of timing that the pushcart people didn’t know what to call their product before; the market auto-piloted itself into calling that stuff “dirty” next to packaged ice cream found in supermarkets.
What’s my issue with the word? It’s simply this: overusing a word kind of cheapens what you want to have if everyone else is saying it. Where’s the premium in that? I guess buzzwords form that shortcut in a customer’s brain. But if it’s everywhere, it shouts “everything artisanal is available,” and then the law of supply and demand takes over…I think.
My one cent of brain power suggests: I guess people can practice a bit of caution in choosing words to describe a product they intend to take to market. Caution much more when you directly incorporate it with your brand. When the fad word dies, your product could go with it. Imagine changing a bunch of stuff just for one word. I mean, that’s okay if you’re out to market something co-terminus.
Overkill. I mean, is marketing and advertising campaigns now ruled by overkill? If I happen to turn on TV, almost every advertisement of a company, soap, shampoo, fabric conditioner has song and dance in them. Like, even deodorant has a “pa-simple” move and shampoo’s all about checking your hair. Personally, I find them entertaining. Just that. After the novelty wears off, I find them irritating. But did the ad entice me to buy or try? NO. I can freely say that because I do shopping for our household. This man has a say on the dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, and almost everything else. I must be the most boring man on planet earth. My wife and I actually have rational discussions during supermarket trips. I scan the shelves for old and new products, and read labels, too. I try to be a rational consumer as much as possible, I TRY to be. I guess I’m just tired of singing and dancing to the ads myself.
Another overused thing is the emo-angle to those ads. It’s amazing that there’s an emotional connection with all the brands we all use. If you look at it closely, even toilet paper has a strong connection with a person. Nothing builds a bond like a strong need, imho. Goodness, and diarrhea can be a relationship killer if you play along with an ad.
I also got tired of the overplayed guitar jingle with the female singer by a very popular fast food burger place. At first the voice was sort of soothing, then it got irritating because of overplay. I like the voice and all, but the singing style just got to me. Couple that with dissatisfaction with the actual products that ad promotes.
Whenever we trust ads so much, as consumers, aren’t we limiting ourselves? Aren’t we forgetting that products are supposed to do something for you other than just that emotional tug at your heart strings? A good case are the pictures up on the fast food menu boards. As I write this, there’s probably one customer at a fast food restaurant that just said “What the F is this?” after he got a deflated burger and compared it with the one in the picture.
So what’s that thing that products supposed to meet, anyway? That’s do it’s job: clean whatever; fill you up; get rid of dandruff without thinking of a blizzard alert if you head a football.
As an aside, I do check labels. But what’s with the way they’re presented? Some are just too small. I don’t know if the same companies plan to start selling reading glasses, too. Is the devil really in the details?