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Adver-diculous Campaign-tionaries
By: Victoria Hoey
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Portmanteau (pôrtˈmantō) is a real word. You can look it up. But, since the American population has an exactly seven second– or 140-character attention span: "portmanteau" is a noun that is either a physical suitcase that opens into two parts, or a word combining two or more separable aspects or qualities (normally into one word). A good example is BRUNCH. Breakfast + lunch. A more colloquial example is CRUNK. Crazy + drunk.

The latest trend in ad campaigns is a sloppy, uncreative version of an old trick: Try and get into the Dictionary. The thought of going out and buying a physical paper dictionary has been laughable for over a decade, but dictionary apps are on every device and updated consistently, and if you want your product to have virtually free advertising in the virtual world, you have to find a way into it.

Wiki-Why? Does it seem like ad agencies think all you have to do is slam two words together and {poof} your ad is hip and will appeal to the digital generation? Then {poof}, your word will start a social trend, go viral, and eventually work its way into the lexicon (or even better) the vernacular. See, once it’s in the vernacular, it's slang and provides a sense of “us” vs. “them." The “us” in this case are the ones who are up on all the latest uses of the word and the “them” are those that are out of touch. #TBT

Copywriters, where is your pride? Stop culture-chumming the water, THEN baiting your hook. You have to earn your audience's attention or (at the very least) be mildly clever. Even if you don’t have a technical bone in your body, you have seen Michael Keaton’s Multiplicity and you know what happens if you make a copy of a copy of a copy: digital generation loss. That is exactly what is happening with the new Subway “Flatizza” and Sprint's “Framily Plan” campaign. The half-hearted irony and early claim to a hashtag no one wanted in the first place are flagrantly offensive to BOTH creativity and intellect.

Yes, we all want to be a part of the next Band-Aid or Kleenex brand. These are words that have been used as commonplace for over 70 years, but let’s face it. It is more likely that we are going to be the third assistant to campaigns that only a select few remember, like the “Topsy Tail.” Just ask Beyoncé Knowles-Carter how she feels about her contribution of "bootylicious" to the dictionary.

What are some made-up words you love or hate in recent ads? Please leave comments below.


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About the Author
Victoria Hoey is a recent graduate with degrees in copywriting and advertising.
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