Whoa, Nessie! Check Her Date-Stamp—I Think She’s Expired

By July 23, 2008 culture, language No Comments

No, it is not a horse I refer to . . . nor the infamous, elusive Loch Ness. These words of caution are directed to the well-employed, oft-seen Ness Monster that has been captured, harnessed, and paraded about for all to see . . . out there in yonder ad world.

Have you seen her?

When Ness-ie made her debut, the oohs and ahhs could be heard rippling across marketdom. Her first appearances were received with joy. She was novel and refreshing. Brand managers raced to gain an ounce or two of her vivacity. She sparkled as the latest sweetheart of ad copywriters.

I’m not sure who should receive rights of first usage; but here are a few of her appearances (emphasis of NESS mine in all examples):

In 2005, Starbucks used her to describe their now-defunct Chantico beverage. (Which was delicious! Just not in a buy-it-every-week sort of way.) In one attempt to explain the surpassing wonders of its new drink, a Starbucks board said, “To describe its chocolateNESS would deplete the world’s supply of adjectives.” (I guess that’s why they had to employ a new word to describe it?)

Pinkberry frozen yogurt has incorporated Ness-ie into the very fiber of its being, defining itself by her light: “Pinkberry is swirly goodNESS.” Simple and chic—very nice.

The Red Robin burger chain developed an entire campaign based on a fictitious business sector called the “Red Robin Department of DecliousNESS.” The ads are humorous; take a peek.

Weight Watchers engaged Ness-ie in launching its Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream with ads that simply say, “chocolateNESS.” I guess that says it all.

Yes, Ness-ie has made quite a showing.

That’s the trouble with new lingo. It spreads itself about with a short shelf life and no expiration date. With no regulatory committee to watch her best-used-by date stamp, the public is unaware when to put such monsters to rest. Sadly, as the Ness-ie Parade marches on, the first parade goers must wait patiently for the echoes to finally (and mercifully) quiet down.

My Internet search on Ness-ie’s exposure led me to an article by Maeve Maddox at dailywritingtips.com. She explains the Ness-ie phenomenon to be related to our society’s attempt at creating abstract nouns by adding -ness to whatever word passes by. That’s where we get such oddities as deliciousNESS and greenNESS and chocolateNESS and goodNESS.

But this trend could also be attributed to the communicator’s never-ending quest to cut through the marketplace clutter. The use of new, distinct jargon may separate his product from those that use mere traditional English vocabulary. Grant Barrett said this in an article for the Malaysia Star:

“Once ad agencies or newsmagazines have picked up on a slang word, if it is not already uncool they are sure to kill it by overexposure. Slang thrives from a sense of novelty and a sense of being privileged knowledge. You hardly get that if an airline is selling seats with it.”

It’s time to rise up, my fellow language lovers! Ness-ie has been a victim of overexposure. Let’s give old Ness-ie a rest. Poor girl. She seems a bit tired in my opinion.

Once again I say, Whoa, Ness-ie. Slow down. For that matter, stop. (Please.)

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