Retail giant Levi’s was a sponsor of the first TEDWomen conference, held earlier this week in Washington, D.C. As part of the build-up to the conference, the company gave “traveling journals” to 50 young women chosen for their inspirational accomplishments.
Nice idea. Just one little problem: the company- or agency-written copy that introduces each of the journals. It’s as fragrant an example of syntax-defying bafflegab as you’re likely to find in any medium. In fact, it reminds me of many of the spam comments I receive on this blog.
See whether you can tell the difference between Levi’s copy and spam.
When we create, when we work for the new or push ourselves ahead in search of fulfillment and change, we do so in a collective progress. Then, we step into the unknown together, ready to shape what’s coming.
Being completely satisfied, as soon as it happens to be recognized as being a duty and established as being a behavior, opens doorways into unimaginable gardens thronged with grateful associates.
Innovators, change-agents, artists, creative thinkers and progressives are the culmination of so many influential and inspiring people who have come before and opened our eyes to other worlds of thought. We look to our mentors, teachers, and peers who continually build us into citizens of the planet.
Enthusiasm could be the internal voice that whispers, “I can do it!” when other folks shout, “No, you cannot.”
And thus, they inspire in all of us the passion to take action, have impact, find responsibility, help others, and move forward in the mutual endeavor of shaping what’s to come.
Neither believe nor reject anything, because any other person has rejected of believed it.
Give up? Here’s the Levi’s copy.
And yes, Examples B, D, and F were taken verbatim from my spam-comments file.
I suspect the Foreword verbiage* is an attempt to channel the ghost of last year’s “Go Forth” commercials, which employed a crackly voiceover intoning Walt Whitman’s words. To put it as kindly as possible, the copy for the new campaign, “Shape What’s to Come,” is no “Leaves of Grass.” It’s closer to “Shards of Search-Engine Optimization.” Explain, please, “the mutual endeavor of shaping what’s to come.” Or “mediums of what’s possible.” Or even “a collective progress.” And while we’re at it, can I hear a chorus of “gag me” for “Miscellanials” and “In.spirals”? (Especially “In.spirals,” “a virtual exploration of goals and passion”—yes, passion!—“on a global scale.” In case you were unsure, “In.spirals” is pronounced [In-Spahy-ruhl] [sic], according to someone unacquainted with the International Phonetic Alphabet.)
BrandWeek’s BrandFreak blog calls Shape What’s to Come “an impressive display of sucking up to a powerful consumer demographic, and an equally brazen, if indirect, display of the ‘buying stuff as activism’ ethic a lot of companies are using” but is generally charitable about Levi’s motives:
Even if that’s fake sentiment based on marketing data, it’s still nice to hear after so much ink and paper has gone to attacking this generation for coming of age in a horrible job market and tender economy.
In fact, the Shape What’s to Come journals—as opposed to the foreword—are mostly interesting, lively, and original. One contributor, the “cyborg anthropologist” Amber Case, is someone I met at a Focus Catalyst brainstorming salon last year. She’s brilliant, accomplished, and intensely interested in “the intersection of anthropology and mathematics.” Read her illustrated journal. Read the other journals. Skip the Levi’s copy.
* I hear “verbiage” far too often in my line of work from clients and colleagues who think it’s a fancy synonym for “writing.” In fact, the primary meaning of “verbiage” is not complimentary: it’s “an excess of words for the purpose; wordiness.” Read my October 2008 post about “verbage,” which includes a reference to Levi’s. Want more Levi’s? Here’s my August 2010 post about the Levi’s ad campaign for Curve ID jeans.