7 new names for ‘advertising’

Mark Duffy has written the Copyranter blog for 10 years and is a freelancing copywriter with 20-plus years of experience. His hockey wrist shot is better than yours.

Last Wednesday, during Advertising Week here in New York, Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, the world’s largest advertising conglomerate, said, “We need to rename ‘advertising’” because it’s “outdated” and because “75 percent of our revenues come from stuff that Don Draper wouldn’t recognize.”

Don Draper is not a real person, Martin. And this seems a bit drastic.

Sorrell offered zero new names himself — not surprising. No, he just made the statement, and figuratively mic-dropped off an elevated dais and headed back to London.

The talkative knight has, somehow, become the de facto spokesman for advertising on planet Earth. Seemingly every week, Sir Martin steps in front of the nearest microphone or Web camera and gives his insights and outsights on the State of Advertising, which are then immediately gushingly published unchallenged on the world’s leading media websites.

But if Sorrell says it needs to happen, then it goddamn needs to happen. Here are some possible new names for “advertising.” I have years and years of experience of trying to name/rename products/brands, though I haven’t been very good at it.

Some of the new “digital native” creatives think that their idea to have a brand tell stories — instead of push product — is trailblazing. Settle down Lewis and/or Clark. Storytelling is as old as the industry. And good ad storytelling was invented during the 1960s creative revolution.

“Storytelling” sounds so innocent though, doesn’t it? Gather around children, we’ve got another brand adventure to tell you! The problem is these “stories” (at least the ones presented as native advertising) have extremely low brand recall, partly because they don’t sell the brand, and partly because they’re usually boring as piss.

Just add one letter, and BOOM, it’s instantly cool and not scuzzy anymore.

The typeface here is Braggadocio.

Ad techies are currently desperately trying to turn advertising into a science; they want to make it much more difficult for clients to understand. This meaningless cumbersome buzzword is just for you new breed of snake oil salesmen.

“We need to increase our digital Sorrelling budget.” “Creative without strategy is called ‘art.’ Creative with strategy is called ‘Sorrelling.’” How’s that for a legacy, Sir Knight?

It’s fun to say! Try it! Here’s an example sentence with it replacing “advertising”: “Doing business without razzmatazzing is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.” Or: “Razzmatazz with the New York Times, and get more bang for your buck.”


OK, it’s already being used in the U.K. by a collective of graffiti vandals defined as a “revolt against corporate control of the visual realm.” But fuck them. It’s a cool word, and I bet they didn’t copyright it (note backwards ©). Heck, even steal the logo, minus the jester hat (which is quite hacky, guys).


Just take out the untoward part—“ad—and put the emphasis on the second syllable. Perfect.


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