As a copywriter, there’s a lot of hyperbole that I’m obliged to apply to products and brands. Comes with the territory, sure, but too much tub-thumping generally sounds like you’re blowing your own trumpet, and it’s important to be aware of the consumer’s bullshit threshold. People can tell when you’re so far up your own ass you can see the light out your own cakehole. So it really grates me when I see ads that abuse words like ‘greatest’ or ‘world’s #1’, when in likelihood, the product or brand in question is likely a mediocre turd that’s getting a desperate polish in the hope that some gullible punter out there is going to be thick enough to swallow the drivel, hook line and sinker. Funny thing is, these ads wouldn’t make it to the page, screen, TV or radio unless there were enough peabrains out there to justify the expense. Go figure.
When it comes to examples of apt description, it's safe to say that Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Michelangelo, he could have, if he’d been around, advertised himself as ‘The World’s Greatest Artist’. Genghis Khan, for that matter, if he'd been so inclined, would have had carte blanche to put out an ad in Mongolian Tyrant Weekly stating that he was 'The Known World's Greatest Uncontested Marauder! Thirteen Countries And Fifty Thousand Decapitations In A Decade!', and no-one would have room to criticise the man. But a flyer which hollers about ‘The country’s greatest house music DJ’s!’ or a facebook message which spews all over my page about ‘the hottest tunes you’ll ever hear!’ - that just gets right up my nose, bypasses the brain barrier and directly attacks my good taste centre with as much finesse as a roll of barbed wire.
And of course, this is not an issue restricted to your common-or-garden schlock, hell no. Would that it were, but no. It’s much the same out there in the corporate world, because there’s simply no control on the abuse of language – and this has lead to the godawful corporatespeak that plagues our modern world. Some common examples:
‘Forward planning’ – tell me, Sparky, what other kinds are there?
‘Concretise’ – WTF? Don’t you mean ‘consolidate?’
‘Unpack’ – so, when did ‘explain’ fail to do the job?
See what I mean? The problem is that there’s nobody willing to stand up and say ‘Oi! You! Yes, you – move away from that lingo! You’re not qualified to play verbal Lego with my mother tongue, motherfucker! Step away from the language and keep your grammar where we can see it, or you get it in the cerebellum!’