A three-letter advertising swear word

3 Mar

Just seen as a headline on a banner outside The Gap: “Get a whole new look!” (the offer underneath is buy two items and a third is free)

“Get” is the language of offers. It is a signal to the brain to turn off the imagination and rationally consider what follows. Can you close your eyes and visualize someone “getting”? The word is so passive, so lifeless. Worse is when it’s used as an order, like the headline: “Get excited!” Um, why don’t you SHOW me something exciting instead?

I think headlines work best when they have emotion or a concept. “Get” belongs down in the offer copy: “Buy 2, get 3rd free.”

Can you think of a headline for Gap with more visual or emotional punch?



7 Responses to “A three-letter advertising swear word”

  1. Eden March 3, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    Something along the lines of “Your new Spring look” or “A whole new look for Spring.” The seasons are changing (well, they will be soon), and that’s as good of a justification as any when you’re buying things you may or may not need (I implement that justification all the time). Plus the “your” in the first headline helps create a sense of ownership regarding the product; I used to try to accomplish the same thing when I worked retail, creating ownership by placing the clothing in their hands, etc.

    Thanks for the post! I didn’t realize “Get” was such a dirty word…

  2. andmerson March 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    I totally agree that you shouldn’t tell consumers to “get excited” or ever use “get” as a command. Personally, in the retail/buyer relationship, I think I should hold the power so being commanded just doesn’t work for me.

    However, I don’t feel “get” in general is as lifeless as you mentioned. I actually think our society is so materialistically oriented that the idea of getting something, especially something new, is intriguing. I think if you posted “Get Thin” as a headline, consumers would immediately begin visualizing the outcome.

    How about the following for new headlines.

    1) Indulge, guilt-free.

    2) Whole new look, Fraction of the cost

  3. Eden March 3, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    I like those suggestions, but I’m curious: is it bad to include the word “guilt” at all? Even if in this context they’re “relieving you” of guilt? For me that would trigger a thought of, “Oh, right. I’m supposed to feel guilty about buying things from the Gap, but then this deal makes it better… or does it?”

  4. Michael Tension March 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Close the gap between outfits. Hmm or maybe not.

  5. andmerson March 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm #


    I wouldn’t say you should never use it. This just shows how important it is to do research and understand your target market. If your customers were seen to express feelings of guilt already then it would be effective to use this insight and use a strategy of “guilt free”

    However, if your customers don’t feel guilt already, then you are right, bringing up guilt would be a trigger word we would want to refrain from using.

    I suspect in this case, consumers wouldn’t be that guilt-ridden over 2 pieces of gap merchandise.. so, lets scratch that headline. Good thinking!!

  6. Eden March 3, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    I see what you’re saying, Andrea. Thanks for the insight!

  7. Shane March 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Thanks for your comments Eden and Andrea. I’d say I have a pretty strong filter to the “BUY NOW!!” “SALE!!” “GET THIN!!” junk mail, posters, and ads that I see every day. I tune them out unless I’m in the market for whatever they’re hawking. But there’s nothing like a unexpected headline to cut through and make me pause to read the rest of the ad.

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