We are faced with abusive words constantly – this is an integral part of life. Unprintable expressions are present not only in conversation at work or in the subway. Curses are also often used by marketers.
Gary Vaynerchuk, known for his constant use of words for the letter “F”, was a huge success as a marketer. And Doug Kessler, creative director of the agency Velocity Partners, conducted several trainings and created presentations on the advantages of non-normative vocabulary in marketing.
So, how can you swear without risking losing respect?
Let’s look at some examples and take a look at the results of the research.
A little about the profanity
Like any other words in the language, obscene language has its own history and etymology. Well, for example, the word for the letter “F” can be attributed to the XVI century and to the German origin. Most likely it happened from the Swedish word focka and the Dutch fokkelen, the translation of which is quite provocative. But if you are really interested in learning about the etymology of obscene words, you need to look into the very essence of this phenomenon.
In 1999, researchers from the College of Medicine in Weill were able to connect the use of obscene expressions with amygdala – the “mass of gray matter” in the brain that is responsible for our emotions. It turns out that when we hear a curse, a part of the brain perceives it as a “language threat”. In other words, we psychologically treat abuse as well as verbal aggression.
Amigdala also controls memory. The researchers made the following conclusions:
- Your memory is actively turned on when you hear abusive words.
- A repeated encounter with profanity softens the reaction to it.
Professor of Psychology Timothy J found that there are places where profanity is a “taboo”, for example, a church. And if we take examples of marketing, then taboos are commercials, broadcast on state television.
But forbidden words do not disappear from the language, because they strengthen the emotionality of communication.
This is the main reason why we like marketers who use mate and slang word – they charge us on an emotional level, their speech is different from the usual one.
So how does this practice look in marketing?
The essence of abuse in marketing
To find out more about why obscene words can be relevant in marketing, we will turn to Kessler, who has established himself as an expert in this topic. He gives the following characteristics to the practice of swearing in marketing:
- The amazing,
This is due to the psychology that we mentioned earlier. However, Kessler warns marketers against excessive use of obscene vocabulary. In fact, to use curses is only to create a “surprise effect.” If you bend the stick and often repeat, the necessary reaction will decrease to a minimum. And if the mate just is not in your style or contradicts your beliefs, forget about this reception altogether.
But if you still decide to “decorate” your marketing practice with abusive words, think carefully about whether it will resonate with your like-minded people, whether it will amuse them and add fire to the story of your product.
Maybe obscene lexicon is not so bad, if it is used on time and correctly?
Consider the details.
Why we like marketers who swear
1) Curses imply honesty
Each year the Center for Public Integrity conducts the State Integrity Investigation study: “An integrated assessment of accountability and transparency in public administration … based on existing laws and an analysis of how well they are implemented.”
Researchers rated each state’s scores on how often their residents swore (based on research data on Facebook). It turned out that in some states where people polled more often, for example, in Connecticut, the implementation of state laws was better. And where people use less swear words in their speech, the laws needed to be adjusted and improved.
In marketing, this phenomenon shows that the brand has nothing to hide. Profanity can be not for everyone, but using it, you as if say to the public: “It’s all right, we’re real.”
2) They make the brand closer
Up to 3.4% of the words that we speak every day are curses. It may seem that this is not much. But only 1% of the words spoken by us for the day are personal pronouns. Consequently, we swear even more often than we talk about ourselves.
In general, people like to use obscene words.
That’s why swear words can help make the brand recognizable – they have a part of ourselves. Thus, 66% of the polled office workers say that if their superiors used mate at work, they would also do it.
3) The use of curses does not at all indicate stupidity
Sometimes we are afraid to earn a bad reputation because of our style of speech, because abusive slang can make people think that we are not smart enough. These fears are in vain!
Researchers from Marist College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts found an interesting fact. Frequent use of non-normative vocabulary is associated with general fluency of speech, and, as the authors of the study note, [oral] fluency is a distinctive feature of intellectual insight; The more abusive words a person knows and uses, the wider his vocabulary and the greater intellectual insight. ”
In other words, many intelligent people, including marketers, like a strong word.
Fluency in oral speech is also a sign of wit. Take a look at this ironic advertisement. Most likely, you will watch the video to the end, because he really intrigues. Children and atypical speech for them encourage us to find out what will happen at the very end.
4) The presence of a mat does not exclude the presence of meaning
Using obscene language makes the viewer look at the ad until the end, because you want to listen to all these cute kids.
But this advertisement is not only funny, it has a sense, and this fact makes it doubly attractive. Of course, curse words in advertising should carry humor and intrigue, but do not forget about the semantic load.
Faced with something amusing in everyday life, we are very much in sympathy. Classical studies show that “humor creates and maintains a sense of community of people.”
Success or failure?
Some are skeptical of brands that use foul language in their advertising. Car brands are one thing, especially in such a modern category as smart cars.
But what about brands that are family oriented?
Non-standard vocabulary can work for the benefit of marketing and in this sector.
In the advertisement below Kmart uses a repeating phrase with a hint of curses and applies it to promote online shopping.
This method, Kessler calls an alternative. Here, marketers do not dare to use abusive words directly because of fear of appearing vulgar. And the help comes “cheats.” It can be homonyms or asterisks: F * ck, or “ship” instead of you yourself know what.
But still, foul language is not suitable for everyone. It is worth a hundred times to think whether the use of curse words is appropriate for you and your audience.
And yes, with the right approach to this practice, your brand can gain great popularity 🙂