A Monthly Meditation on Branding and Language
From Your Favorite Copy Shop, Editorial Emergency

#43 (Sept. 3, 2010): Back to School With a Dirty Song

Ah, September — the winding down of summer, the promise of autumn colors, and ... oh, who are we kidding? Those "back to school" ads are on the air and filling our hearts with remembered angst. But since we're stocking up on pencils, let's see if we can't learn a thing or two about the power of profanity in viral marketing, study pop's tragic misuse of "you and I," and fit a Not Our Clients newbie for the dunce cap. See you in class!

Viral's Not Easy, We Swear

ImageWe hear it all the time from marketers, product developers, promoters and publicists: "We're going viral with it."

What they mean, of course, is that they'll be injecting some offering (video trailer, cartoon widget, etc.) into the online info stream and encouraging consumers to re-post, forward and otherwise disseminate it as promiscuously as possible.

These marketing folk aren't fools; they scrutinize the habits of Facebook and other social-media users and fully grasp the power of leveraging fans' content-sharing tendencies. But all their metrics, market calculations and clever lures cannot guarantee the result they seek: a bona fide Internet phenomenon. It's easy to forget this fundamental fact until you witness a genuine viral explosion.

Which brings us to a little ditty called "F**k You." (The asterisks are there to indulge those of you who may be scarred by profanity.)

Read the rest here.

Flashcard: Me Tarzan, You Gaga

ImageThough I accepted long ago that there's no grammar in rock and roll, it's always bothered me that the Doors' otherwise splendid "Touch Me" contains the lyric "Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I" (at the crescendo of the song, no less). Of course it should be "you and me." But I rationalized, as I like to think the hyper-literate Jim Morrison must have, that "me" does not rhyme with "sky." So what's Lady Gaga's excuse?

In "Bad Romance" she sings: "I want your loving/ And I want your revenge/ You and me could write a bad romance." Why? It's not like she needs something to rhyme with "me." She clearly lives to provoke, but I don't think she pulled this particular stunt on purpose; I think she just doesn't know any better (and almost surely doesn't care). And she's not alone.

If you want the down 'n' dirty nitty-gritty on WHY Gaga's use of "you and me" is caca, please consult Grammar Girl's typically lucid explanation, entitled "Between You and Me." The rest of you, read on.

Read the rest here.

Not Our Clients: System of a D'oh! Edition

It's important to set the right tone when calling out to potential new employees.

The ideal candidate will have no eye for detail.

If we're going to get America back to work, we need to spend the extra five minutes on the help-wanted ads, people. Thanks to our esteemed Denver-based colleague Julie Lancaster for forwarding this baffling boo-boo.

Want to look busy at your desk? Head over to the very unclassified Not Our Clients section. Have you found a worthy addition to our roster? This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it If we post it, we'll send you an iTunes gift card, with which you might procure such jams as "Take This Job and Shove It" and "Workin' in a Coal Mine" — or perhaps a few episodes of The Office.


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We've worked for these kinds of clients on this kind of stuff.

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