Do you remember back when you were young - and hip - and your parents would say something completely oblivious or ignorant while trying to demonstrate their street cred? Like, 'Gee, kids, that Puff Diddlee-doo throws down some mad rhymes." And you'd just roll your eyes and snort at how uncool they are.
Well, I think some of today's big marketing firms need to take notes - and stop acting like those parents trying to be their childrens' contemporaries.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, marketers are increasingly embracing "text-message lingo" in an attempt to cater to the tween set. For example, I recently saw a new ad for "Gossip Girl," some show about rich teens. The image depicts two characters making out, with a tagline reading "OMFG." For the uninitiated, that stands for "Oh my (insert swear word here) God!" At the same time, a new line of Degree deodorant for teen girls features a series of ads highlighting "OMG! Moments."
"We wanted to show the teens that we understand them and know how they communicate with their friends," says David Lang, president of WPP Group's MindShare Entertainment, which created the print, TV and online effort for the deodorant company.
That's not all. Frito-Lay, McDonald's, AT&T and several more companies have all utilized text-message abbreviations in their commercials in recent months. Apparently MTV is also on the bandwagon (of course), rolling out a new reality show called "Paris Hilton's My New BFF" - or best friend forever. Don't even get me started on this one.
Look, I get it. Cell phone texting has taken off, blah blah blah. And sadly, it's given birth to now well-known abbreviations like "ooc" (out of control) and "lol," or laughing out loud. I understand why people use it for text message - even e-mail - purposes. But do I have to be beaten over the head with it every time I flip through a magazine or put on the television?
Maybe because I grew up reading the classics and writing short stories and news articles, I find all this text-message short-hand so offensive. I mean, it now appears that New Zealand high school students are allowed to use "text speak" in their written national exams. The article then gave the following examples of text speak in school papers; "We shal fite dem on d beaches" (Sir Winston Churchill) and "2b or nt 2b" (Shakespeare's Hamlet). Seriously??? If this is the way our younger generation operates, well, we're in trouble, folks.
But back to the advertising...while there may be one or two firms able to pull this type of marketing off - such as the somewhat entertaining Cingular commercial with a mom questioning her daughter about her texting - I see most of them failing spectacularly. Remember, teen lingo changes quickly. By the time I was in college, I could barely understand my 15-year-old brother. IMHO (in my honest opinion), companies who try to "speak the language" just might wind up evoking the disdain of their target market.
Anyhoo, I'm done venting and I'm off my pedestal. I'll be back tomorrow with recipes. As a finale, here is the more entertaining AT&T ad I referred to earlier.