I just received a direct mail flyer from a local dentist. It is laden with photos of smiling people with lovely teeth.
Every person in every photo is white.
Note to dentists: Even in Sandy, Utah, not everyone is caucasian. Not even if you weed out the toothless.
I suppose one could argue that the dentist's objective is not to promote racial equality, but to acquire new patients. Moreover, 89% of Utah is white, so one could argue that the dentist is appealing to the greater market.
From a pure marketing view, I can't argue against those points. But I can as a marketer who also happens to be a human being. Advertising has a powerful opportunity to depict the human family as more than one ethnicity, without (except in rare cases) compromising other objectives. Given the human tendency to separate into "us" and "them," it's an opportunity we shouldn't waste.
I doubt that the dentist intended any slight. This is the kind of oversight that's easy to make. Which is exactly why we all need an occasional reminder. I hope this one serves.
Sometimes as people put words on paper, an inner alarm shrieks, "Yikes! You're writing! Pull out the big words so you'll sound smart!"
Cancel the inner alarm. Big words don't make you sound smart. They make your stuff hard to read.
Don't say masticate. Say chew.
Don't say expectorate. Say spit.
Don't say pandiculate. Say yawn.
This is not about targeting an eighth-grade reading level, a myth born of arrogance. It's about capitalizing on our tendency to follow the course of least resistance. Even the stuffiest PhD is more likely to opt for an easy read over an impenetrable one.
A good copywriter disappears behind writing that brings to life the product or service for sale. Sounding credible can enhance that effect. But devices that draw attention to the writer ("Gee, this writer sure knows big words") steal the product's spotlight.
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