Thanks to reader Steve Hall for bringing to my attention another advertiser playing the faux-comparative/superlative game: the golf-club maker TaylorMade. A new spot, Steve writes, has been in heavy rotation during ESPN’s coverage of the 2013 Masters Golf Tournament.
I admit I don’t understand why a golf club would be called RocketBallz. (The name of another TaylorMade club, RocketBladez, makes more sense.) But that’s just one of the many, many things about golf I shall never understand. For example, who are the guys in the ad? Advertising logic tells us they are famous golfers who are instantly recognizable to fans; to this viewer, however, they’re just a bunch of bad actors in dorky outfits.
I am somewhat more clueful about the ad’s language, which riffs on the comparative suffix “-ier.” In the space of 30 seconds we’re treated to huge-ier, smash-ier, long-ier, so-sweet-ier, money-ier (that’s “money” as in “so money,” as in Swingers), nothing-on-that-ier, way-better-ier, quieter-ier, good-to-be-you-ier, and, of course, RocketBallz-ier, a play on “ballsy.”
It gets suffix-ier: TaylorMade is using the #ier hashtag to identify and, um, “socialize” the campaign. From the TaylorMade Tour blog:
To help celebrate the official Tour launch of the RBZ [RocketBallz] Stage 2 fairway woods and Rescues, every TaylorMade pro competing in this week’s WGC Cadillac Championship will be using a new special edition staff bag featuring an “IER” panel – their names, plus IER – as well as wearing hats and visors with the hashtag #IER on the front of the hats.
I’m aware of at least two other brands that have created ad campaigns built around the “-ier” suffix: Perrier and Napier. In both of those cases, the connection between the brand names and the ad copy – which used real adjectives like “riskier” and “snakier,” not invented ones – felt authentic and boosted the brands’ memorability. It’s harder to make a connection between “good-to-be-you-ier” and RocketBallz. (Commenter Steve Hall remembered the advertiser as Callaway, a TaylorMade competitor!)
- TaylorMade uses a clumsy “X Just Got Y” sloganclone toward the end of the spot: “Our longest just got longest-ier.” (More “X Just Got Y” examples here, here, and here.)
- The hip-hop-inspired Z-plural of RocketBallz and RocketBladez was already old news when I first wrote about it in 2006. Which means it probably still sounds edgy and “urban” to the golf crowd.
Read my previous golf posts: “The Smaller the Ball” and “How to Name a Golf Course.”
As long as we're talking about golf, this is as good a time as any to tell you about one of my least favorite trademarks of all time: Titleist. I know they mean it to sound like "title-ist", and they decided to spell it Titleist because Titlist looks like "tit-list"; but guess what? "Titleist" looks like "tit-leist"! There's just no way "Titleist" is going to look or sound like "title-ist" without putting a hyphen into it. They should have picked a different mark altogether.
Posted by: Bob Cumbow | April 12, 2013 at 11:08 AM
I 100% agree about "tit-leist"! I think it sounds like a German name for a small bird or flower, like "edelweiss."
Posted by: Jaime Sperling | April 12, 2013 at 12:18 PM
In response to Bob: Back in the early 90s when I worked at the law firm that handled the TITLEIST marks, that interpretation of the mark never crossed my mind. Nor did anyone in the frathouse milieu of the firm at the time ever suggest it - and I would've heard it, as I heard everything else imaginable. A NY patent firm before sensitivity training ... those were the days.
Meanwhile, if I were to spot swag reading "IER" I'd just assume it was some dorks from the International Egg Rollers. Or the Irate Estonian Royalty. Or Idiotic Ending Republishers.
Posted by: Jessica | April 12, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Preach on, Brother Bob. "Hey, it's one of those 'tit-least' balls!" got me the dirtiest looks. How was I to know?
Posted by: CGHill | April 12, 2013 at 12:55 PM
When I was a pre-adolescent reading Sports Illustrated in the 60s and seeing ads for titleist golf balls, it just never occurred to me that it was title-ist as opposed to tit-leist. It looked like it must be somebody's weird name, that's all. It was years before I caught on.
Posted by: empty | April 12, 2013 at 05:07 PM