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Archive for May, 2009

Every week I’ll highlight a word that catches my attention. As a marketing and communications professional, I stress simple, straightforward language in my work, however I’m always watching for the evolving lexicon of the market. For growing vocabulary, I recommend these sites: FreeRice.com, UrbanDictionary.com, InvestorWords.com, BusinessDictionary.com, Merriam-Webster Online]

 

The word for this week is — Gravitas. This is a great word made popular recently because it was it was uttered by Amy Poehler on the season finale of Saturday Night Live during the Weekend Update segment when Poehler and Seth Meyers were lambasting Arizona State University for declining to grant President Obama an honorary degree in conjunction with his commencement address there: “…honorary degrees carry all the gravitas of a ‘#1 Dad’ coffee mug.”

 

Listed in Wikipedia as one of several virtues that Roman men were expected to possess, gravitas means “sense of the importance of the matter at hand, responsibility and earnestness.”   Or in Houston its a restaurant known for its American Bistro Style cuisine.  Or a real estate marketing firm in South Florida focused on urban residential developments.  Or a professional competition video gaming team in California.

 

The authentic use of the English language, especially words still close to their etymological roots, is increasingly being lost as schools dumb down their curricula to accommodate the Twitter/text messaging attention spans of students at all levels.  Even the unrelated use of the word to label businesses and affinity groups undermines the lifetime value of the word.  I’m sure similar statements have been uttered by writers in every generation for hundreds of years.

 

Two of the most valuable classess I ever took in high school were Latin I and II from Mr. Kimball.  He also taught German.  Actually, it’s a miracle I got that option considering my grades 9-12 took place at Morton High School in a small farm town of 12,000 outside Peoria, IL.  I took the classes because I wanted to improve my fundamental knowledge of English in order to be a better writer and speller.

 

Considering what passes for communication and language these days, if it takes a late-night comedy skit to send new generationals to their online dictionaries, I’m good with that.

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I watch more television than I should, but that doesn’t give advertisers the right to offend me with their commercials. 

There are probably hundreds of commercials that different people consider offensive based on their personal beliefs, but this is my blog so I’m going to name two campaigns on the air right now that make me NOT want to buy their products.

CASTROL EDGE “Think With Your Dipstick” (view commercial)  Since when did it become OK to blindside assault a man in his front yard or at a bowling alley with a long, thin metal rod?!  By a fake Scotsman in cliche Scottish attire.  It’s not funny…it’s a FELONY.  Getting whipped with a dipstick is very painful.  Moreover, the faux-Scot yells a distasteful “stop thinking with your dipstick” at his victim…a ridiculous play on an even more exhausted cliche that men’s brains only exist in their penises.  (note: no women are hit with the dipstick. Maybe Castrol believes women don’t or can’t change their own oil, or even choose the oil they want in their cars.)  Maybe the message here is “the beatings will continue until sales improve.”  This is the equivalent of paid media waterboarding.  And just as I’m positive former Vice President (and GOP blowhard) Dick Cheney would change his tune about whether real waterboarding is torture if he ever had it done to him, perhaps the Castrol Edge advertising executives who thought this campaign was a good idea need a dipstick whipping.

QUIZNO’S “Toasty Torpedo” (view commercial).  This one pains me because my daughter and I both love to eat at Quiznos and we’re good friends with the staff at our regular spot.  But I never once thought of the 500 degree oven that toasted our sandwiches as an anthropomorphic rectum.  First, to provide some balance, I think the new Torpedo sandwich is a solid new product and for $4 is a good deal.  Eating it is another matter…unless you eat it like a SqueezePop using the sleeve it’s served in, it’s easy to find half the contents in your lap before you finish.  But in this campaign, Quiznos employee Scott has this exchange with the talking/flashing sandwich oven (which speaks in a voice that is a combination of HAL 2000 and a bad porno voiceover):

OVEN: Scott, I want you to do something.
SCOTT: I’m not doing that again.  I burned.
OVEN: We both enjoyed that.
[Oven introduces Toasty Torpedo sandwich.]
OVEN: Yes Scott.  You make one.  Put it in me, Scott.

Are you kidding me?!  A deep male voice beckons Scott to put something in him…that makes the Quiznos oven a 500 degree rectum.  And I’m supposed to be salivating at the chance to eat what comes out the other side?!  What’s even more telling is that these commercials now air only after 10pm.  An edited version runs before 10pm.

Hey Quiznos…the $5 Footlong jingle from Subway is lodged deep in my brain.  I don’t like where you’ve lodged your Toasty Torpedo.

UPDATE: AdAge.com wrote on June 25: “Dear Fast Feeders, Please Keep Your Meat Away From the Ladies. Sexualized Sandwich Bits Are Getting Tired, Disgusting.” http://adage.com/adages/post?article_id=137541

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G.L. Hoffman, a serial entrepreneur and venture investor / operator / incubator / mentor and chairman of JobDig.com Tweeted today about a post on his blog “What Would Dad Say” that originally was published on Dec. 30, 2008 entitled “The Six Word Resume Contest, It’s a Meme.”  In it he challenges readers to “post your favorite six word resume ideas to your blog.”  At the moment, my favorite six word resume idea is about  me:

Organization in Transition Aspiring Greatness: Leader

UPDATE: Click here to learn how to find your next job instead of waiting for your next job to find you.

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