when words lose their power

I was in Bournemouth today and had an hour to kill so walked through the town down to the seafront and the pier.  I’d managed to visit Brighton last week without ever seeing the sea so was determined not to miss it this time. English seaside resorts are most peculiar. As you get nearer to the seafront the names of the buildings become every more exotic: pavilion, esplanade and so forth. Of course when these names were hatched the buildings were indeed awesome and the country folk came from their rural hovels to gawp at buildings which looked as if they had been lifted from the orient. Well not any more. Now the old buildings have been torn down and replaced by.. well by buildings with the same evocative names but built by accountants without an ounce of the imagination which drew the crowds originally. I even found a takeone on one of the icecream stands introducing me to S&D Leisure – ‘a world class leisure and entertainment company’. Well thanks very much – must have taken an awayday or two to concoct that one…

This monstrosity in front of you is called the Waterfront and includes a ‘Harbour lights’ bar as well as a chinese restaurant called improbably Red Panda. It also has an Imax logo plastered on the side. Now I don’t doubt for a minute that there’s a creative rationale in Powerpoint form somewhere – Can’t I see that the roof is designed to look like waves??  Isn’t it obvious that the building is supposed to ‘resonate’ with the seaside environment?  Um no actually. Its just looks awful.

Forgive my world weariness but it put me in mind of the language we often use around advertising campaigns. When the wonder has long gone. I was dealing with a client who thought that their TV campaign gave ‘brand stature’ when the schedule meant that very few people would have seen it – particularly not the key audience. There was no research to indicate that the brand had increased in stature or that TV had contributed to it. What the client meant was that having an ad on the telly made her feel like a proper advertiser.  If we’re not careful advertising becomes like a seafront with language which reminds us of past glories and a present which we hardly notice until naive daytrippers asked us how long things have been in this state and how do we put up with crap like this?

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