Originally posted September 20122
“Introducing ‘Lite’: the new way to spell “light” but with 20 per cent fewer letters.” – Jerry Seinfeld
WARNING: This is a rant, pure and simple. There won’t be a clever ending drawing a parallel to today’s world of corporate communication. There isn’t a hidden message anywhere. This is soapbox grand standing at its best.
Now that the warning is out of the way….
When I was 12 my health class was given an assignment to find as many examples as we could of incorrect spelling in brand names. This was Australia in the 1980s so we didn’t have Krispy Kreme but there were plenty of Froot Loops and EZ Cheeze and every second product was Lite something.
Ever since that assignment I have HATED cutesy marketing and advertising spellings. What’s the point? Generally speaking if you can’t spell you are considered a bit stupid. So surely we think the brands behind cutesy spellings are dumb. Which means we are equally as dumb for buying products from companies we think are dumb. By default, these dumb brands must think we as consumers are dumb because they persist with the dumb spellings. The logical conclusion is consumers are even dumber because they buy products from a brand that thinks that they are dumb to start with.
Confusing? Well I warned you this was a rant.
Now, I have learned in researching this post (at one stage it was going to be sensible) that deliberate misspelling of words for effect is called sensational spelling or divergent spelling. And it seems to have kicked off in earnest in the late ‘70s with the whole K instead of C fad. I don’t really care. Putting a label on it does not make it acceptable.
Not surprisingly I suppose, considering the previous commentary about dumbness, I can’t find anything much online about the phenomenon and certainly nothing from the world of advertising and marketing. Seems the practice has been around for so long it doesn’t need explanation.
But it has hit the news of late, thanks to a little product in the States called Wyngz. Seems these bite sized pieces of moulded chicken don’t have any wing meat in them – and worse the American food regulator is not only on board with the idea but has guidelines for that specific word, including, wait for it, that it not be combined with other misspellings.
Oh, and have I mentioned already that cutesy spelling is dumb?
DISCLAIMER: if you read this blog looking for insight, feel free to draw your own conclusions about dumbing down a generation that has staggeringly high illiteracy levels and massive spelling issues to begin with.