Nothing’s better than drinking ABC brand of fruit juice while sharing a quiet walk with your dog along the ocean at sunset, so says the brand. Few experiences are as cherished by families as cross-country car trips to see Grandma, notes a brand that believes its products promote family togetherness.
Nothing's better? Few experiences are as cherished? Really?
I like fruit juice as much as the next guy, and the dog, ocean and sunset are a nice touch. But I can think of plenty of things I like better. And as for a 3,000-mile trek across this great land of ours, have you tried that lately, complete with one kid in diapers and two more strapped in back zonked out from too many videos or wired on candy? Fun such a trek may be at times, and memorable, too, but a week trapped in the car with the kids? Maybe those memories aren’t so cherished after all.
Phrases like “nothing’s better than” and “few experiences are as cherished” are typical of what we often write in press material. We use these empty superlatives because we’re trying to talk our readers – and probably ourselves – into believing that the product or event or service about which we’re writing is more important than it is. That if we write it, it will be so (hmmm, I never thought about it that way. . . nothing is better than drinking o.j. while walking Fido at sunset). But overplaying our hand as communicators is sure to backfire. Phrases like these ring hollow because they are hollow. As a reader I’m halted in my tracks; I know such and such isn’t the best whatever, and I know you know, and you know I know, and you also know I know you know. So just who are we kidding?
Overselling our clients' endeavors simultaneously undermines their objectives. If you feel like you have to make up stuff like this, think again – 99.99 percent of the time the products and services we represent as marketers have redeeming features or support good causes and ideas. They serve a purpose and it’s our job to communicate enthusiastically but truthfully about them.
Good writing is honest writing. And honest writing keeps things in perspective.