Marketing, November 12, 2001
Folks get cranked out of shape about the perversion of language for nefarious ends. They’re concerned about nasty socio-political agendas being rendered unthreatening and acceptable by bloodless bureaucratese euphemisms. “Collateral damage” sounds a lot better than “killing innocent people who were unfortunate enough to get in the way of our bullets.” “Substantial penalty for early withdrawal” sounds a lot better than “officially sanctioned extortion.” But officaldom’s language mangling may not be the worst crime perpetrated against poor old English.
A worse crime would be something like this: “The NameWithheld Corporation, a Value Application Provider, that specializes in providing outsourced application and integration services, and AnotherFaceLessCorp, the company driving down the costs of managing enterprise PCs and their data, today announced the establishment of a Strategic Market Development partnership. NameWithheld is the first Canadian-based, FacelessCorp Strategic Market Development partner.” With me so far?
Then I hope you’re driving, because I lost us somewhere near “outsourced application and integration services.” It seems to indicate that the technocrats who issued this don’t know whether they’re coming or going. That there’s simultaneously stuff going out and coming in . . . or going out and coming together somewhere else . . . in which case, who’s doing this?
We press on through a lot of trademarked™ InterCapPing, wherein capiTal LetTers are shoved into the MidDle of Words, or two separate words are mashed ToGether InTo some ComPound entity, and no sooner has that tectonic syllable collision occurred than the resulting WordObJect sprouts a ™ or a © to ensure NoBody else tries to copy it, thereby making the erroneous assumption that anyone would want to. And let’s not forget the trademarking of an everyday phrase with SM (service mark), which transforms some banal cliché like “not as dumb as we look” into “Not as dumb as we lookSM.”
After struggling through the bumpy terrain of excessive InTerCapPing, we come across what might have been a description of what this mysterious stuff is and what it does: “OurProduct combines SomeThingElse and the PC backup and recovery, software migration, self-healing and asset discovery power of the AnotherFacelessCorp TLM platform. OurProduct ensures that any application platform will be completely aligned and integrated with the customer’s unique business strategy, operational environment, financial objectives and performance requirements.”
Oh, well, sure, now I can see how that would— the hell?
So now this press release — and the absolutely stellar PR firm that crafted it, ran it through the industrial strength JarGone Enhanced Babbelizer™ and fired it out in a spamtacular e-mail shotgun blast — has us wondering which company it’s hawking and what that company’s product does. This much we know: The product makes your PC go backwards, maybe traps it in a corner, finds it if it gets lost, brings it home, makes sure all your programs and data go south in the fall and come back north in the spring, makes its own rich meaty gravy and finds money you didn’t know you had. We don’t know whether that means unearthing bearer bonds you forgot about or digging change out of the couch. But “asset discovery” sounds like such a good thing that it seems petty to quibble about the assets being discovered.
By this point, anybody with a lick of sense would have shrugged and aggressively recycled this wad of nonsense. Not me. I want to see if anything understandable can emerge from this slough of bit-blithering blather. Here comes the boss. He might know. He says the company’s “top priority is to ensure that any platform it provides to its customers meets the most demanding criteria and performance standards, as well as delivers measurable improvements in operational and business performance.” (He talks just like that, too. The fidelity with which the sadly unidentified scribe has nailed his conversational tics, rhetorical gambits and chatty idiosyncrasies is uncanny.)
Hey, boss, what about that platform? What’s that offer? “It offers the proven achievements of protecting information assets and management, measurable cost reduction, increased efficiency and exceptional return on investment,” says boss. “By combining these benefits with the complete alignment of the customer’s business strategy, financial and performance demands, it helps customers achieve measurable improvement in their competitive position.”
And it’s six inches off the ground, so no one falls off.
We still don’t know what it does. But we don’t care. We’re too thrilled by our own strategic objective: to expedite this release’s repurposement from a low-to-non-impactful strategically untargeted communication nodule of ConTent™ into a fully reutilized ReCyclable Wad of ExtraCrumpled and de-integrated shreds of post-consumer fiber.