As the sole author of the world-famous Twisted Tales, I often get questions of what is it I actually do for a living. You know, besides living off royalties and making TV appearances.
And the answer, ladies and gentlemen, is...
Ah yes. Over the last two years, I have secretly toiled in the dark depths of advertising, amassing along the way a noteworthy share of tears and spit. Big-shot corporates, small Chinamen, late nights, coffee, ugly ads and pretty designs - I may not have seen it all, but I've seen enough. Thus today, I stand before you as a self-proclaimed qualified writer on the topic of advertising.
And today... the Top 5 Advertising Phrases!
Or in simpler terms, The Top 5 Phrases Advertisers Use To Pull The Wool Over Consumers' Eyes. And yes, I may or may not have been guilty of using them at some point or another.
No. 5: Natural
The Guilty: Skincare products, health food
Mention natural, and images of sprouting leaves and gushing rivers spring to mind. Be it fancy moisturisers or new-age diets, every brand has a place for this spectacular new word: natural.
"But wait," you ask. "Surely there's some law against misusing the word natural."
Ah ah ah. Very sharp, you. Unfortunately, that applies only for organic. True, if someone claims something is organic, it must come from the ground; worms, dirt and all. Or a chicken's backside.
Natural, however, is a different animal altogether.
The problem with the word natural is that it doesn't just mean 'from nature'. It can also mean 'it just happened'. As in the phrase "They were naturally attracted to each other.". I present my case in the following sentence:
"Naturally formulated from rose petals, Hihihaha Lotion gently soothes your skin."
You see? The product could be naturally formulated from bird droppings, waste water or liquid nitrogen. That doesn't mean it's natural. It just means that the product so happened to come from some stuff somewhere.
But it doesn't matter. You still would perceive it to be...
No. 4: Traditionally prepared
The Guilty: Herbal products
Why of course, nothing beats the good ol' days. When Ah Chong's dad used to plunge his hands into a muddy river, dig up some roots and wade home, wiping snot from his nose.
"Traditionally prepared from age-old methods, Nonomomo Essence is a trusted remedy for coughs and colds."
Oh so romantic! Throw in a hand-drawn painting of straw-hatted villagers beaming under the sun, and who wouldn't be enthralled by the sentimental timeless charm.
For all you know, traditionally prepared could mean a huddle of underpaid Bangladeshi workers slogging in a dingy factory on the outskirts of Nonomomoland. Faced with the daily struggle of malfunctioning machines, they resort to every possible mean to meet their daily quota of '500 bottles per person, filled to the brim".
And I mean every possible mean.
No. 3: One-stop solution
The Guilty: Service providers
What qualifies as a one-stop solution? Hmm, let's see.
If you sell Product A and Product B, yes.
If you sell Product A and some form of extension, yes.
If you sell Product A and accept cash or credit payment, yes.
If you sell Product A but cater for children and adults, yes.
For men and women, yes.
For professionals and non-professionals, yes.
For good times and bad times, yes.
If you sell Product A and also pack it for them, yes.
If you sell Product A at different prices, yes.
If you sell Product A in different colours, yes.
If you sell Product A in different languages, yes.
If you sell Product A wearing different costumes, yes.
But WAIT! What if you sell ONLY Product A, ONLY accept cash, ONLY cater for professional adult males going through good times, DO NOT pack it for them, ONLY at one price, ONLY in one colour, ONLY in one language and ONLY wearing a necktie?
Simple. Just erect a big roof and call it Under One Roof.
No. 2: Innovative
The Guilty: Technology companies, new brands
Let's say you have a new product, service or brand to launch. There you are, faced with the thrashing sea of competitors waiting to eat you up. What do you tell people about your stuff?
Hah! Of course! It's...it's...
When you're innovative, you can do nothing wrong. Lousy results? Duh. It's innovative. You're not accustomed to it yet.
Awful packaging? Hello, it's innovative lah. Too high-tech for you.
Too expensive? Well, whaddaya expect. It's - all together now - ...
Being innovative is like being the six-year-old brat in the family. No matter what he does, isn't he aw-shoo-cuuuute.
No. 1: Dynamic
The Guilty: Big companies, smart alecks
And lastly, we come to the biggie -
Open your eyes and it shall reveal itself to you:
"Zazawawa Inc is a dynamic company."
"The design concept reflects a spirit of dynamism."
"Our product features dynamic usability."
"That was a very dynamic presentation"
Never in history has a word been used by so many with absolutely no clue on its meaning. And I don't blame them. For deep down, no one truly knows what dynamic means.
It's the ultimate say-it-without-saying-anything word. I remember Friend A who once asked Friend B about the movie director Quentin Tarantino. Without batting an eyelid, Friend B replied, "Oh, he's a very dynamic individual."
Friend B had no clue who Quentin Tarantino was.
And now, my friends, the power belongs to you too!
"How was the meal?"
"How was the movie?"
"How was your day?"
"How are you feeling?"
A-one, a-two, a-one-two-three...