That said, it's probably unfair to single out McDonald's,
because long before the chain's marketing department got its greasy
fingers on it, artisan had pretty much been beaten into
submissive meaninglessness by overuse.
In fact, I just poked at it with a stick -- I was afraid to get
too close -- and it didn't even budge. I hereby pronounce
artisan and artisanal dead (from farm-to-table
… to grave).
One helpful thing about the artisan buns at McD's: They got me
thinking about other marketing and media buzzwords that should be
put out of their misery (or at least my misery) already. I think
this list could be a real g-g-game -- well, you'll
If you feel like you have to call attention to how real you are,
then I'm sorry, your authenticity isn't authentic enough for
You've got decent taste (or at least you think you do) and
you picked some stuff. That's nice. Also: Get over yourself!
Now that absolutely everybody has access to easy-to-use tools
and platforms -- from Tumblr and Pinterest on up -- that enable
content "borrowing" (cough) and redistribution, absolutely
everybody thinks they're a curator. When a word that formerly
signified uncommon discernment becomes entirely commonplace, it
might be time to, uh, deaccession it from your collection (or at
least from your Twitter bio).
I know, I know. You won't stand for the status quo! You're shaking
shit up! The project you're working on is not only going to disrupt
the ecosystem, it's going to disrupt the way that disruption of
ecosystems is done henceforth! History will cleave in two: B.Y. and
A.Y. (Before You and After You).
AHEM! I hate to disrupt your daydream, but last I
checked, Walter Isaacson was not writing
your biography. (That said, you can probably get a breathless
Mashable post published if you send them a press release about your
amazingly disruptive new technology. So ... go for it!)
When you tell everybody that a particular noble quality or approach
is "in our DNA" at your company, I get what you're trying to say:
it's so second-nature, so intrinsic to your mission (see below),
you don't even have to think about. Except here you are not only
thinking about it, but talking about it. And every time you talk
about it, you're reminding me of the fact that nurture is at least
as important as nature in creative environments. And honestly, the
notions of predetermination and hard-coding attendant to literal
DNA can be more depressing than galvanizing.
Making a big deal about how a wonderful quality is part of your
company's DNA sounds to me like a Stuart Smalley-style affirmation
(I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like
A totally game-changing move for everyone to make would be to stop
Let's get real -- er, authentic: If you describe yourself
as a guru, you're not a guru.
Finish this sentence: "We're on a mission to …." If you can
say "explore Mars" or something similar, and you work at NASA, good
for you. But if you're mainly just looking to sell or market some
stuff while making some scratch for yourself and your stakeholders,
c'mon, that's OK and there's no need to get all quasi-spiritual
(and/or delusional) about what you're doing. Because 99% of the
time, highfalutin mission statements are nothing but hot air.
Postscript: By the way, if you're wondering
about my mission here at Media Guy world headquarters,
it's to assemble a team of gurus who have authenticity in their DNA
and can bring a curated, artisanal approach to game-changing
disruption. Would you like fries with that?
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" columnist for Advertising
Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.