Exercises in commercial style

Two recent pieces of p.r. ad-talk: one over the top with business jargon; one framed as a lifestyle or fashion ad. Both touting a preposterous product: a podcast about the “facets and opportunities” of death; a notebook of paper infused with the proprietary scent of a tech company.

A global creator ecosystem empowering creatives to self-express and monetize their careers. This passed on on Facebook by writer and NYT obituarist Margalit Fox as her November 2nd Demented Interview Request of the Day:

Ms. Fox, My name is ___ and I architected most of ___’s global creator ecosystem that empowers 500 million creative artists and companies to self-express and monetize their careers. [Some highlights: the verb architect; the compound global creator ecosystem; the verb self-express. Word choices designed to evoke a very specific world of tech services for the entertainment industry.]

I’m producing a podcast on death and end of life care that features interviews with over 100 of the world’s leading pioneers including top physicians, Grammy winners, Olympic gold medalists and entrepreneurs of multi-billion dollar companies. [An astonishing list of exemplars of the world’s leading pioneers.]

Our hope is to help inform the public about the facets and opportunities of the end of life while destigmatizing its taboo nature. This is particularly critical now, given the 75 million+ Baby Boomers domestically, alone, who are about to enter their last years, and our society’s general resistance to productively embracing the inevitable. This is especially personal to me as my parents are Baby Boomers.

We were wondering if you would be interested in being interviewed about your work as well as your thoughts on the end of life?

Margalit’s response on FB (not conveyed to the company): the laconic “Well, no.”

The compound global creator ecosystem led me to a 2015 job listing by a company I won’t identify here; note the similarities to the letter above:

___ is seeking a Business Development Manager who will be responsible for driving talent acquisitions, custom partnerships and helping to execute strategic initiatives with leading content creators and publishers across a variety of genres and formats. Deep experience with large, scalable platforms and an appreciation for scarce, premium content experiences are highly desired — as is a background working directly with A-list talent. A passionate and deep understanding of digital creative communities on platforms like YouTube, Vine, and Instagram is also critical.
In this position, you will independently research, prospect, pitch and close mobile services agreements with genre-defining content creators and publishers, as well as determine how to serve and respond to a large volume of inbound interest in our platform. You will be a pivotal leader who helps define ___’s global creator ecosystem.

The people who wrote this job listing calculated their audience and wrote to them in language they thought they would find congenial. The job was apparently quickly filled.

A scent for ambassadors of innovation. A different audience and a different style (less tech, more men’s fashion). Also entirely public, so I can identify the company: Oath Inc., a subsidiary of Verizon Communications serving as “the umbrella company of its digital content subdivisions” (Wikipedia):

(#1) Oath brands

The Oath Scented Notebook, available for $18 from the company’s webstore (with the central passage boldfaced):

Oath makes no compromises when it comes to brand experience.  The scent of Oath, Empowered, channels our authenticity and optimism with a fragrance structured by natural cedarwood, cardamom and iris, brightened with notes of juicy grapefruit and salty ozone.  It’s a fresh, dynamic scent – perfect for ambassadors of innovation who are committed to building brands people love.

​Material: 6″ x 8” (folded), unlined; notebook cover requires activation through a “rub and smell” technology.

I find it remarkable that there’s a market for company-scented notepaper, but there it is. And there’s the particular “authentic, optimistic” fragrance Empowered, which sounds mostly like a woodsy-spicy cologne — plus those “notes of juicy grapefruit and salty ozone”, which I assume are notes supplied by artificial scents mimicking citrus and ozone. Certainly the ozone, since actual ozone breaks down quickly and is in any case hazardous to health:

Ozone…, or trioxygen, is an inorganic molecule with the chemical formula O3. It is a pale blue gas with a distinctively pungent smell. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic allotrope O2, breaking down in the lower atmosphere to O2 or dioxygen. Ozone is formed from dioxygen by the action of ultraviolet light and also atmospheric electrical discharges, and is present in very low concentrations throughout the Earth’s atmosphere (stratosphere). Its concentration is highest in the ozone layer region of the atmosphere, which absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

… Ozone is a powerful oxidant (far more so than dioxygen) and has many industrial and consumer applications related to oxidation. This same high oxidising potential, however, causes ozone to damage mucous and respiratory tissues in animals, and also tissues in plants, above concentrations of about 100 ppb. This makes ozone a potent respiratory hazard and pollutant near ground level. (Wikipedia)

Exercises in commercial style. The title of this posting is an homage to Raymond Queneau:

(#2) “Litotes” (understatement) from Barbara Wright’s translation

Exercises in Style (French: Exercices de style), written by Raymond Queneau, is a collection of 99 retellings of the same [banal] story, each in a different style. In each, the narrator gets on the “S” bus (now no. 84), witnesses an altercation between a man (a zazou) with a long neck and funny hat and another passenger, and then sees the same person two hours later at the Gare St-Lazare getting advice on adding a button to his overcoat (Wikipedia)

A zazou? From Wikipedia:

(#3) Zazou dans l’autobus

Entertaining to imagine how Queneau’s story would be rendered in California as a tech job listing or a men’s fragrance ad.

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