MAKING FRIENDS IS OUR BUSINESS

In the late 70′s, I was a writer at D’Arcy, MacManus & Masius in St. Louis, working mostly on the Budweiser account.

We were shooting on location at an “authentic”, blue collar bar in LA (despite its authenticity, it had been styled and dressed to the point that its regular customers would’ve scarcely recognized it) and, since the folks who ran the place didn’t want to shut down during prime business hours, we were shooting really late at night.

Naturally, a lot of beer was being poured for the principle actors and for the background people. The process was, “Rolling”, pour beers, deliver dialog, “cut”, dump all the beers into ten-gallon plastic buckets. Repeat.

Take after take. Time after time.

When the buckets got full, a PA would carry them outside and dump them into the gutter in front of the bar.

After a few trips to the curb, the PA was approached by one of about a half-dozen, rough-looking men who were lurking on the sidewalk. “What’s that you’re pouring out?” the man asked.

When the PA told him, “Budweiser”, the tipsy gentleman’s reaction, and that of his pals, was predictably appalled. And when the PA came back inside, he announced that he would absolutely not be making any more trips to the gutter with bucketfuls of beer.

Instead, he started setting the full buckets just outside the door. In a few minutes, he’d open the door and bring in empty buckets.

When our clients from Anheuser-Busch caught on to what was happening, they saw it as a great opportunity to cultivate some brand loyalty. They went outside and gave all the sidewalk “customers” (whose numbers had expanded threefold by this time) bright red t-shirts, emblazoned with the iconic Anheuser-Busch A & Eagle and the slogan “Making Friends Is Our Business”.

My art director partner and I thought it was a pretty questionable PR move to pass out gallons of beer to a bunch of homeless alcoholics, bedeck them with your beer company’s logo and then send them reeling into the streets of Los Angeles in the wee hours of the morning. But we kept our opinions to ourselves, since we lacked the seniority to overtly question a client’s marketing acumen.

It’s safe to assume that Budweiser made some friends that night. But how much repeat, paying business this impromptu campaign generated is open to discussion.

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Ban these words and phrases for at least the next five years.

Yesterday (Friday, March 14, 2014, that’s Pi Day)  I posted a list of annoyingly abused words and phrases on Facebook and, holy cow, people I haven’t seen in fifteen years started weighing in with their own ideas about overused and irritating verbiage. By the end of the day we had assembled a definitive list of terms that must be banned and banished, if not forever, then at least for a while.

To wit:

Amazing (For the luvvagod, please, please find a new adjective. And why does everybody have to sound like a fourteen-year-old girl when they use it? “Uh-MEEEZ-ing.”)

Authentic (Do you mean crude, unprocessed, unedited, uncurated, unimproved, just simply spewed forth in raw form from some fundamental source? I’ll pass. Thanks.)

Artisanal (I saw a plastic package labeled Artisanal Lettuce in a grocery store a few days ago. It’s a plant. It grows out of the dirt. Unless scientists are “crafting” the genome of this stuff in some wonderfully, special way, there’s nothing Artisanal about it. I can’t imagine we need any further proof that this term is now absolutely dead).

Passion (This was a cool and transgressive word between 2009 and 2012. Especially in the business world. I’ll admit to getting some mileage out of it myself. Now, every schmuck’s got a “passion” about something. I just saw a commercial for Lindor proclaiming their chefs’ “passion” for chocolate. It’s made in a big factory, folks. Ditch this word immediately.)

Spot On (I know, that’s two words, so I’m doubly weary of it)

Decimate (unless you actually mean “to kill one out of ten”, and you can’t decimate objects, you can only decimate groups of people, sheesh!)

Bandwidth

Literally (When you mean figuratively or metaphorically. That quinoa was not so good that you literally swallowed your tongue. You’d die.)

Innovate and its demon-cursed sister-word Innovation (Again, I’ve milked this one myself. But it’s time to give it the double-tap behind the ear. And it’s a shame, because it’s a real good and useful word that’s just been abused into meaninglessness.)

Wait for it…

Brilliant

World Class

Thought Leader (And, by the way, you don’t get to call yourself a thought leader. Somebody has to confer that title on you. But it’s still stupid. Don’t use it.).

Game-Changer

At the end of the day…

That said…

Pivot (Just say “start over”. Please.)

Awesome (Even nine-year-old-boys don’t say this any more because it’s just that passé.)

So that’s our list, created by a couple of dozen “creative professionals” of various stripes. Oh! Wait! I have to add a term.

Creative (This is worthy of a post all its own. It may be one of the most abused terms in the business world. For now, use it very cautiously. Be thoughtful about what you label “creative”.).

Does anybody have anything to add? “Input” is welcome. There’s a term I love. “Input”. A more honest label would be “interference”.