My latest Visual Thesaurus column, "The You Decade," was published yesterday. In it I revisit the changing meaning of you in marketing, a theme I've touched on in a couple of blog posts: "The City • The Committee • And You" (about Philadelphia's new city slogan) and ("Life • Liberty • And You") and this post about the marketing campaigns of Yahoo and HTC.
Access to the column is restricted to subscribers (do it!). Here's an excerpt:
For better and worse, the new You can be found throughout the culture. Dr. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen have penned a series of best-selling YOU books that tell you all about the world's most fascinating subject. A partial list includes YOU: The Owner's Manual; YOU: On a Diet; YOU: Staying Young; and YOU: The Smart Patient. They may have been following the advice of numerous business-writing guides that urge "you-attitude" — putting yourself in the customer's shoes and addressing him or her directly.
And the you focus goes all the way to the top. President Obama's version of a fireside chat is called Your Weekly Address — and you can watch it on (what else?) YouTube.
Now a confession. In a comment, Richard P.—whom I know through Twitter and through his fine copywriting business, Lucid Content—noted that he'd read a similar article several years ago by Christopher Hitchens. A few hours later, Richard tweeted me with the link.* Honestly, I hadn't seen the article (which has the same title, "The You Decade," as my column) until yesterday. And I did do some searching.
That aside, the article is well worth reading, and only partly because the opinions expressed therein coincide with my own. Hitchens is always fun to read. Here's a bit of what he has to say:
A room-service menu, for example, now almost always offers "your choice" of oatmeal versus cornflakes or fruit juice as opposed to vegetable juice. Well, who else's choice could it be? Except perhaps that of the people who decide that this is the range of what the menu will feature. Fox TV famously and fatuously claims, "We report. You decide." Decide on what? On what Fox reports? Online polls promise to register what "you" think about the pressing issues of the moment, whereas what's being presented is an operation whereby someone says, "Let's give them the idea that they are a part of the decision-making process."
You have a good day now, OK?
* Richard says he'd had no luck finding the article until he hit on the search term "Hitchens on the second person pronoun." Teh Google, it is a most demanding mistress.