Here's a game to play while you're waiting for the cable guy. How many usage gimmicks can you spot?
(Photographed at the Westfield San Francisco Centre.)
1. Anthimeria--substitution of one part of speech for another. "Faster" is an adjective (a faster rate) or an adverb (let's go faster!), but here it's being used as something ownable: a noun. (My previous posts on anthimeria in marketing are here, here and here.)
2. Pompous capitalization. Faster isn't just a noun here, it's a proper noun, like Tom, Dick, Harry, and Comcast.
3. Pretentious TMing. Using the trademark symbol after "Faster" makes you think (erroneously) that Comcast has managed to corner the intellectual-property market on this one word. In fact, Comcast may or may not have filed for trademark protection of the entire "We own Faster" phrase; the only symbol that signifies actual trademark registration is ®. Registered slogans (as opposed to names) are usually denoted by SM for "service mark."
4. Unnecessary quotation marks. Are they visible air quotes? Is sprees meant to be ironic? Perhaps Comcast is saying to us, "You call that a spree? We laugh contemptuously at your so-called 'spree'! We spree ever so much Faster™ ourselves!" Your guess is as good as mine.
5. Gratuitous fictional secret sauce. PowerBoost: Now with NoSpaceBetweenWords.
This ad is just one example of a Comcastian effort to reinvent the English language. I'd noticed "Karaocasting" on a billboard, and reader Dave Blake pointed me to a new TV commercial that features "snurfing" (sneakily surfing the Internet while on the phone). The gangly new words are called "Triple Slanguage," part of Comcast's "Triple Play" campaign. Go here to view flashcards with definitions for phoruption, splurjobbing, and the rest of the Comcastictionary.
If you're feeling a little cynical about all this, you're not alone. As a commenter wrote on the Broadband Reports forum, "I wish they'd stop making up words for marketing purposes and just add more HD [high-definition] channels."