This is the top half of a full-page ad for Salesforce Tower that appeared in last Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle.
From the Wikipedia entry: “Salesforce Tower, formerly known as the Transbay Tower, is a 1,070 ft (326 m) supertall office skyscraper under construction in the South of Market district of downtown San Francisco.” It was built on spec; naming rights went to Salesforce.com after the cloud computing company leased 714,000 square feet and became the building’s anchor tenant.
The headline of the ad isn’t much of a headline at all. It’s cribbed directly from Oxford Dictionaries (syllabification, phonetics, definition, and example sentence) and the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus (synonyms). As reading material, it’s boring. As an advertising strategy, it is as shopworn and ineffective as that ancient device of the inexperienced public speaker who opens with “The dictionary defines community as …” As logic, it’s a fallacy called argumentum ad dictionarium – “the act of pulling out a dictionary to support your assertions” – and it’s cleanly eviscerated on RationalWiki.
Dictionary-definition copy is lazy. It’s unpersuasive. It doesn’t convey a distinction or a benefit; it doesn’t evoke an emotion or express a call to action. It borrows authority rather than staking its own claim.