Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Worn out words

A few months ago I railed against clichés (the story was picked up by the marketing section of The Australian newspaper. Mention in the ‘real’ media! Quite a proud moment for AdNotes).

Little did I know a federal election was around the corner (oops a cliché!) It’s been an opportunity for both sides of politics to join up lots of clichés and call it a campaign.

But more irritating, to me anyway, are individual words that just get used too often. These are not strictly speaking Cliches, just words that suddenly seem to appear in every sentence or conversation.

There’s one that seems to be everywhere at the moment.

This little word has seen active service for centuries and used to evoke images of knights in armour battling dragons.

But recently it has evolved into a monster itself: a kind of irradiated moth from a sixties Japanese movie.

News-readers use it. Politicians use it. My 14 year old uses it. I try not to use it but it comes out anyway.

This overworked word is … challenge.

It can stand for anything from an ‘almost impossible task’ like plugging an oil leak in the US, to a ‘chore’ like peeling a potato on Masterchef.

But, I knew 'challenge' had lost all value when I picked up a flyer at St George Bank. The flyer invited me to ‘Challenge us for a better home loan deal.”

Poor ‘challenge’ now means nothing more than 'to ask’.

Like printing too many Zimbabwean dollars, overusing a word devalues it to the point where it has no worth or particular meaning.

If you have a creative advertising problem call Tony Richardson on (02) 9929 0588 or visit Tony Richardson Advertising or TacticalTV.com.au

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