No, sex cannot sell everything

Words matter. Obvious, right? Maybe not. During the holidays, I kept hearing a commercial about hoodie-footie pajamas that was fixated on the word “hot” because, apparently, nothing turns a woman on quite like covering up 95% of her body because she’s cold. I may not be an expert on women, but a lady who wants to climb into hoodie-footy jammies is not looking for reasons to come out of them. But the ad persisted, as if wood aphrodisiacs are the new in thing.
-Audiences matter. While the user s of the product are women, the target of the commercial was men, but apparently not thinking men. We are relatively simple creatures but no man has ever equated “I am freezing to death” with romance. Even the jewelry commercials that occasionally make guys look scattered (do you really need her ring size tattooed on your head?) do so with the intent of making us look good in the end. When Hardee’s uses an attractive woman to seduce you into buying one of its burgers, you get a sense of self-parody – fast food so good that, well, you know. The irony is that the product actually solves the problem it is designed to solve – making a cold person get warm – but there is no interest what the item is or does, just a focus on selling what it’s not going to be. That’s known as too clever by half.
-Motives matter. The creative process is not easy. A former colleague used to say “it’s not art, it’s work” as a means of keeping the designer-y folks on track with the business outcome being served. Every effort is not going to be award-winning, but there is no excuse for laziness. Before anyone is wowed by your work, they have to be interested in your words. Lazy writing reads like someone who is not convinced about the product or curious about the prospect. The worst part about the hoodie-footie ad was that was the campaign chosen; just imagine the ones that did not make the cut.
-Stories matter. People love stories. It is engrained from birth; stories makes up history, they are how organizations operate and evolve, they describe how families are formed. Words give life to those stories. Every person and every organization has a story but what does it say? The Internet has given rise to all sorts of white noise and cutting through it is a challenge. Your story doesn’t need 50,000 words. A good LinkedIn profile can do it in a few paragraphs, a video on your web site in less than a minute, a recurring blog can document changes/ideas/information so long as you post regularly.
Communicating means that you are talking to people, not some metric. The point of your words, of course, is to compel the reader/audience to take action. Only you know what action you hope to inspire and what great things will come of it. The words that you use define the path to the outcome.


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