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Marketing Speak in the Wild

Languages always change and develop as we start to use words that never existed before. But there’s one area of language development that I really don’t like, and it’s the use of marketing-speak in everyday language.
I have too pet peeves – “content” and “premium.” They can be used separately, and are particularly terrible when they’re put together.
Content is now the catch-all word for programming, audio, video, pictures and of course the written word. I agree that it is a handy word – a catch-all. But the reason I loathe it is that it somehow dismisses the essence of what is being produced. It suggests that one piece of writing, or one produced programme is much alike the next. It relegates each individually produced piece to the same status as baked beans going into their cans in a factory; content is something that you purchase by the yard.
Now while I might have some idealism, I realise that a lot of television really is purchased by the yard. I’m sure that there are some skilled producers working on some of these shows, but when a daytime commissioner orders 250 hours of buying/selling antique programming, they probably don’t really care what it looks like as long as it delivers a satisfactory audience.
Indeed perhaps the recent malaise in TV standards, which surely has been put down to people no longer really caring about the audience, can actually be laid at the feet of the word “content”?
Premium is even worse. I suppose that I first came across premium in relation to lagers. In ye olde days, we’d have all drunk whatever lager the brewery who owned the pub offered. There was unlikely to be a great deal of choice. There was branding of course: who can forget those Hoffmeister – follow the bear ads. Or perhaps it’d have been Skol that you drank? There was always Heineken or Carlsberg, and there were cheaper or more expensive lagers. But along comes Stella Artois which was “reassuringly expensive.”
That’s fine, but then the expression “premium lager” began to creep out of the pages of the marketing press and into the wild. What exactly is premium about these lagers? Well Holsten Pils has always claimed that more of the sugar turns to alcohol, but is the process involved in these lagers’ manufacture truly that different? Is there a “premium” brewing process?
A cynic like myself rather suspects that Skol is manufactured in a vat right next to the one used for Stella. Sure, there’ll be some different ingredients and processes; the drinks do taste different after all. But aside from the “brand values” each drink is afforded, I remain unconvinced.
From a consumer’s point of view, the marketing works – Stella is the biggest selling lager in the UK. There’s a certain snobbishness prevalent when you walk into a bar or pub and try to avoid the cheap lager. It may well have a lower percentage of alcohol (which is actually becoming more popular), but like any other product the same marketing rules apply.
Premium isn’t just used in lagers of course – there are premium brands, and worst of all, premium content…