So, my adventures in advertising continue apace. I am now at a new company working exclusively for the spirits industry. No, I’m not working in an off license, I’m working for a marketing company writing slogans, taglines, body copy etc. for a major spirits manufacturer. I write anything and everything that encourages Americans to up their consumption of Alcohol! And to think, my grandfather was a member of the temperance society.
Anybody who knows me will probably assume this is the ideal job for someone with my experience in hard liquor. After all, I have the guilty pleasure of selling one of my favorite indulgencies to the general public on a daily basis. Each day I come up with inventive ways of communicating brand message to retailers, wholesalers and customers. The job can be serious fun and seriously challenging in equal measure, pardon the pun.
However, my greatest challenge is overcoming the linguistic differences between the American and British markets. My pithy little gems are quite often met with blank stares and comments like “I’m not sure whether that’s even a word dude”. Pointing out the word is in the American dictionary doesn’t seem to help.
I am also faced with the challenge of getting my genius past legal. As the drinks industry has taken to self-regulation in an attempt to avoid the restrictions befalling the tobacco industry, anything suggesting drinking alcohol has to be avoided. This makes my job challenging to say the least.
I recently had a suggestion rejected as the wording implied, “getting loaded”. The words I chose were taken from their product name! Correct me if I’m wrong, but take away the intoxicating nature of alcohol and I think you may be looking at a shrinking market! Heaven forbid you should ever offend anybody and even less, tell the truth!
Although I fully understand the need to take your customers feelings into account, the need to avoid offending them is often taken to comical extremes! As an example, the tagline, “Make Coffee Not War”, suggested for a fictitious political campaign by a major coffee manufacturer, was rejected as it may offend the pro war lobby. Presumably, the line would have turned coffee into a pussy peacenik’s drink!
I am forcing myself to think and write as an American. Unfortunately, my target audience is in the mid west, so I have to think like a specific type of American, the ones who hate people like me!
Every day I wonder if my employers are sick of my English vernacular. It’s very difficult to work out whether I’m doing fine or going down in flames. Whenever I am handed a pay check I wonder whether it will contain the deadly ‘Pink Slip’. I could very well be one faux Pas away from the exit door! Today I’m chatting about the Super-bowl in a sad attempt to ingratiate myself to my co-workers. I’m trying to work the phrase ‘go long’ , the only American football term I know, into everything I say and do! I won’t be using this phrase in my work however, as going long could infer over consumption!
On the upside, there are no dogs in the office.