One Rung Above Ne Plus Ultra

on July 23, 2015

The awkward thing about the advertising for new photographic products is the way that superlatives are written. If every new item is described as the best thing since sliced bread, eventually you have so many of these about that you can't tell whether you are selling cameras or sandwiches.

The manufacturer's and distributor's writers also face the same problem - grabbing the public's attention as a way of loosening their wallets - and they frequently need to resort to what I like to call the verbal quadrille; carefully worked-out words that read well, are technically accurate*, and seem to differentiate the product in a nice way.

Dear Old Ken Rockwell used the term "weasel words" to describe this process. Careful selection of criteria and location and time to make things better. Like the phrase " Japan's best left-handed mirror-less macro low-light camera with a coffee-dispenser " which pretty well cuts out the competition. Tomiko, the tech writer for he Flapoflex Corpration just has to comb the spec sheet from the production department and compare it to similar sheets from everyone else. When he finds something that the new Flapoflex does that nothing else does, he is onto a winner.

Never mind if the feature is silly or so specialised that no-one would ever need or use it - Tomiko has the hook needed to make the advertisement. And if that advertisement is leaked via Flapoflex Rumors and then put in your local slick-paper photo mag with a picture of Ayer's Rock in the background you will be rendered incapable of resistance.

* Technically accurate: means that it is close enough to the truth that you cannot be jailed for saying it. Also known as Hansard-speak.

Uncle Dick