Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Buzz Words

Grams loves words. I love their power to convey meaning and messages. I love the nuances of words and how the same words mean different things to different people. In fact, someday I would like to write a book about words, specifically about how families have their own languages and how words are used within families.

Today, I'm thinking about words used in business, marketing and advertising. You know them; you've heard them all your life. They're words like new, improved, super-sized, fun-size, etc.

Yesterday, we went to Starbucks for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Grandad wasn't feeling well so he waited in the car while I went in to get our drinks. As I got out of the car, he said, "Why don't you get us a couple of cookies." When I asked what kind of cookies he wanted he said I should get two different kinds and we would share them.

When I walked up to the bakery case, I noted that they only had one kind of cookie, oatmeal, really big oatmeal cookies called "outrageous oatmeal cookies." So I asked the barista if they had any chocolate chunk cookies that were not in the case. He went into the back and came out to tell me that the only other cookies they had were peanut butter mini-cookies which come "3 for the price." So I ordered one outrageous oatmeal cookie and three peanut butter mini-cookies. 

Now, lets talk about those cookies. It turns out that outrageous accurately describes the size of this cookie. The outrageous oatmeal cookie is at least five inches across. Certainly big enough to share. The "mini" cookies were a good three inches wide and thick and chewy. Basically, they were the size of a normal cookie. They were good. We split the oatmeal cookie and then each of us had our own peanut butter cookie. Tonight we split the third cookie for dessert.

I guess they were at least straightforward in calling the giant oatmeal cookie outrageous. It's outrageously large and outrageously high in calories, 370 calories with 120 of them coming from fat and a whopping 36 grams of sugar in each cookie. But I resent them calling a regular-size cookie a "mini" cookie and selling them at 3-for-the-price. There's nothing mini about these cookies, and if I'm going to buy three of them, I can pretty much guarantee that I'm going to eat all three. Each of these cookies tasty little gems contains 160 calories and 11 grams of sugar.

And while we're on the subject of descriptive words used in marketing and advertising, let's talk about new and improved. As a general rule, I hate and despise anything that's new and improved. You see, Grams is a very product-loyal consumer. For years I have used Colgate toothpaste, All Small & Mighty Laundry Detergent, Dove Soap, Oil of Olay Moisturizer, Dawn Dish Soap, and Bare Minerals makeup. Those are just the products that come to my mind right now. Once I find a product I like I don't see any reason to shop around and try other brands. That is unless and until they decide to take my perfectly good product and make it new and improved.

My skin is particularly sensitive to scents. Oftentimes a new and improved product will have a slightly different scent and my skin will break out in a lovely red rash everywhere my skin folds ... knees, elbows, armpits, and personal areas (you get the idea). Or the scent will make my nose run and my eyes water. So once I find a product that works for me, I'm loyal to that product.

And on the other side of the same coin, I feel cheated when I finally learn to like the new and improved product and the next time I go to buy it, the tagline says, "original formula." All I can think is "Really! You got me to buy a new and improved product. Now you're trying to sell me the "original formula. I've been had!"

1 comment:

  1. Fun and thoughtful post. I'm a bit of a word nerd myself (I guess that's what makes us writers/readers!)...and I think I had something like an 'outrageous' cookie at our local (London) Starbucks earlier today!

    Thanks so much for visiting me on my SITS day and the kind comments about my kids.