The dictionary is the advertiser’s friend. When lazy or when a hundred other ideas couldn’t impress the decision maker, an ad-maker will grab the dictionary, look for the word that crystallizes the message and copy what the dictionary says in perfect style and format – with precise phonetic spelling characters. It is the equivalent of saying:
- I could have painted an imaginative picture of this concept but that’s so expected so I’m going to be all bad-ass, straight-talking by putting the dictionary meaning in 10 point white text, on a black background.
It is also a device people in the communications business use to settle arguments – the weight of the dictionary, both physical and authoritative can shut people up, “Say whatever you wish, this is what the dictionary says, so zip it.”
Every time I hear:
- “The business students should brief the creatives by next class”
- “Let’s meet with the Creatives at 5:30 Thursday”
- “We won’t have the creatives ‘cos the printer is jammed”,
I cringe and wish I had a pocket dictionary handy with a tab on the page so I could quickly show them the word creative is an adjective. Of course, in 1962 Merriam-Webster gave up – to the convenience seeking, busy, advertising professionals who, spoiled with liberty, abused the word to include people and items that aspire to be creative – and added a second meaning to the word creative.
Is it not it in our interest to maintain the sanctity of the word? Besides, as an adjective, creative is more open. It could be talking about mysterious mythology, a comedian who finds humor in the mundane, the first farmer who made the scare crow, Led Zeppelin (I’m biased), whoever came up with mutual funds, the Sony Bravia crazy ball commercial, and beyond.
I’ve been itching to do something about the issue in school.
[While the abuse of the word is a burning issue for me almost everyday, this post moved me to write about it.]