Sunday, February 21, 2010

Language Doesn’t Just Frame the Argument. Sometimes it Decides It.

What are you for? What are you against?

The words used to ask the question can go a long way to framing your perception of the question, and the position to which you commit.

Last month, evil genius public relations consultant & researcher Frank Luntz circulated a memo to his clients on how to frame – and ultimately derail – financial reform legislation in the United States Congress.

No matter how you feel about Lutz’s political position (or that of his clients), you have to appreciate the methodology.

You can praise or curse the effectiveness at your leisure.

Essentially what Luntz and his company Word Doctors are doing is identifying the Dominant Narrative and plugging their clients’ preferred narrative into them.

It’s like dipping your toe into the stream and then deciding which way you’d like to paddle.

And it just might work.

Monday, February 1, 2010

NFL Corrects a Bad Call

The Squire beat me to the punch, but I see from this story that the NFL has relented (at least a little)in its constant pursuit of people who love them too much. [What’s even more interesting is that the league may have been trying to protect the fleur-de-lis, in which case France would have a lot of explaining to do.]

People who bill themselves as social media “experts” like to tell you this is all new (NEW!), but the only thing that’s really new is the share of voice. The customer always owned the brand.


What’s new? Now you can see it in real time.

A number of news stories about ownership of “Who Dat?” mention its similarity to the “Who Dey?” chant employed (as Jack said, to less effect in recent years) by fans of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Few of these stories mention that a similar legal hullabaloo erupted way back in 1981, the year of the Bengals’ first Super Bowl run. At the time the Brown family, controlling owners of the Bengals, sought with considerable success to get a piece of anybody’s action if they were trying to profit from the Who-Dey? chant.

But here’s the thing: It wasn’t even about the Bengals.

Who-Dey is a bastardization of Hu-day, a westside Cincinnati colloquialism for Hudy, a nickname for Hudepohl Beer (an acquired taste to be sure). I heard at least three versions of the Who-Dey chant before the Bengals won their first playoff game. But that didn’t stop the Brown family from staking their claim.

No matter. This was legal principle: Who owns the brand?

And like the recording industry would learn a couple of decades later, suing your biggest fans is a pretty expensive way to make a point.

At least the league saw that one coming.

For once.