So, its a glorious august afternoon this summer and I’m sitting in the company of couple of fellow consultants. One in marketing the other in design both of whom have worked/are working with very large high profile clients. Talking about recent viral marketing ads that caught our attention, the topic of language usage in copy came up.
Here are a few key bits from that discussion:
Colleague 1(designer): Did you see that last ad from that TNT channel? Was very well done. There was this button in the street that said push to add drama. Very funny. There's a bit in there I'm sure you'd like Ron.
Me: No. But theyknow drama.
Colleague 1(designer): Ha, yeah that's their tagline. I'll send you the link. It's gone viral.
Colleague 2(marketer): Those viral campaigns are great, lots of return on practically very little investment. We had that at 'BLANKETYBLANKBLANK'(very large Tech Co, you probably have heard of them... three letters) an entire section of marketing was devoted to trying to make our ads go viral.
Me: Yeah, It doesn't work like that most of the time. Consumers are pretty savvy as to what is trying to be that new viral campaign. Lightning in a bottle.
(then the conversation drifts towards campaign copy grammar or lack thereof)
Colleague 1(designer):and and and…working on an ad piece the writer was using “and” as a punctuation to enthusiastically promote their products features. It does this AND this AND this. Ugh, there are more proper ways to do that.
Me: I feel the same way about the use of a comma before the word AND. It was beaten into me in school (funny, it seems this is the ONLY grammar rule I consistently adhere to) Also, have you noticed the amount of type-o's in the NYTimes in the past few years? (I dunno why I said this…seemed relevant)
Colleague 2(marketer): Yeah we would get letters and calls from the spelling errors on campaigns we ran.
Me:Really? I always wondered who calls and complains about those things, I mean who has the time to do that?
Colleague 2(marketer): It’s generally retired ex-employees. They would get on the phone and say things like…”Back in my day…”. The ones who own stock and have a vested interest in the health of the company…mostly live in Florida.
(topic then switched to typographical aesthetics)
Colleague 1(designer): I love using em dashes. Its just an elegant way to pause in a sentence. I was working on this one campaign where they had me remove the spaces before and after the dash. It looks so…I like just a little space before and after. Just gives it that nice little…umph.
Colleague 2(designer): em. Yes, em to create a pause in a sentance — like a comma. An 'en' dash is to connect things like 'years 1942-45', can be used like a semi colon though . I was using Quark at the time and had a shortcut created to slightly shorten it, 80 percent and just tighten it a little. So whenever I needed to it would break up the sentence just so.
Walking back to my area, I realized how bizarre my writing style had become. Changing from a very rigid and calculated prose to this hurried mish mosh — which I thoroughly enjoy hammering out. It is akin to my painting style fast, heavy handed and bold or verbose, run on and profane. Hmm.
When did I develop this kind of behavior. I mean, I went to a good school, was taught how to properly enunciate and craft dialogue/correspondence. Grammar structure was beaten into me from an early age. When did my wiring evolve (devolve?...yeah I'm gonna go with DEvolve) into this mish mosh of blog postings with little regard to spelling and even less to proper sentence structure.
Was it my strong loathe for anything formulaic and prosaic? I have read both these lovely tomes on proper english language structure but really don’t see them as anything I should strive to emulate. I don’t care to, you can fall in love with these books and their regulations much like you can fall in love with a font family, style of dress or a martinet wallflower (see - ex wife) but if you are anything like me your personality will chaff and become irritate by its overbearing rigor.
When I type, its like a faucet, I think and it spills out…should I sift out the detritus and properly sieve through its contents so that I more aptly follow its guidelines? I don’t do that with my paintings. That would take away the immediacy and enjoyment I have in its creation. Constantly reworking art/sentences to a polished sheen seems like eating a pizza with a fork and knife. Clinical and joyless.(did i mention my ex-wife?)
Um, no. It's more like:
Like the distressed typefaces that littered the landscape of 90s design. I enjoy the rough around the edges and unrefined prose that I churn out. Maybe l will tire at this and look back on this period like looking back at Raygun*** magazine.
For now here is my end point. Does it matter? I am not advertising for goods/services of any kind. Nor is this intended to be some kind of classroom lesson on style... I am speaking my mind here…and this is how I talk! (:43)
Yeah, well my writing style can best be described as writing as if you have a gun to your head.
Commas? ...put them where ever. Elipsis…use ‘em like commas. Parenthesis should be the goddamn voices in your head. Quotes…quote everything that comes outta any speckled pie hole. Spelling...check only if it looks way teh fuck off.
Why do I write like that…why not, are you still reading? Do you get what I am on about? (affect a british accent when reading that) then fuck STRUNK in the ear and WHITE in the other ear! As for Chicago…this nonsense from the same jackholes that gave us Da Bears, Shel Silverstein(seriously, his wrote that gibberish BEFORE crack was invented) and Dr. Seuss(c'mon).
Oof that was harsh, huh? Where did that come from? Seemed excessive.
Again, maybe I’ll look back on this period and be embarrassed. I seriously doubt it but if you tell me that in the future I will regret it. Maybe I'll listen. More than likely I will tell you that fortune tellers and soothsayers belong in the 8th circle of Dante's Inferno with their head twisted backwards to stare at their own ass for all eternity. …so yeah.
I'm gonna keep writing this way until it bores me. Bores me...or until shame, embarrassment and regret finally find me.