Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Speak English.

I've told this story before but during the last few days I've been sitting in new business meetings and, accordingly, I am somewhat at the end of my already foreshortened tether.

The modern advertising agency is much more complex than agencies were 30 or so years ago when I first fired up my IBM Selectric. As media channels have proliferated so have vertical experts. Also, technology has inserted itself as a key component of many marketing messages--whether or not that technology has a bearing on the consumers that use it.

The result of all these changes is that English--pure, simple, comprehensible is as endangered as Darwinists in the Republican party.

Here's the part I'm repeating (and will keep repeating.) When Ogilvy promoted Steve Hayden (the writer of Apple's "1984" there was an article about it in "The Wall Street Journal." I consider Steve my mentor, so I read the article carefully and took it to heart. Ogilvy Chairman Shelley Lazurus was quoted in the article. She said, "Steve never speaks in jargon."

As a writer, as a communicator, I took that as a brief. I know the power of language to alienate readers or viewers. I've always hated when writers insert a phrase in French to show how smart they are. I know how compelling simple can be.

I'm afraid it's lost on most people.

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