Our National Anthimeria

6a00d8341c4f9453ef01a73d6f4c92970dThanks, Nancy Friedman. Some time ago, I read a blog post by the naming consultant about the trend of anthimeria in advertising — that is, using a word as a different part of speech than normal, as in Turner Classic Movies’ “Let’s Movie” and Nutella’s “Spread the Happy.” (Movie, a noun, is being used as a verb, and happy, an adjective, as a noun.)  Friedman has collected examples for a long time, and a couple of months ago I started following her lead.

All I can say is, enough already. Ads using anthimeria are everywhere. They can be divided into several categories, and I’ll start with the most popular. Please note that merely using anthimeria isn’t the only way these copywriters are unoriginal. Quite a few of them of them anthimeria the same word (most egregiously, better), and at least one has copied somebody else’s slogan, word for word.

Adjective Into Noun

  • “More Happy” — Sonos
  • “Bring the Good” — Organic Valley Milk
  • “Watch All the Awesome” — go90
  • “Where Awesome Happens” — Xfinity
  • “We Put the Good in Morning” — Tropicana
  • “Ramp Up the Delicious” — Hamilton Beach
  • “We Believe in Possible” — St. Mary’s Hospital, New York
  • “Give Merry” — CVS
  • “Your Playful Is Showing” — Otezla
  • “Founded on Fresh” — Subway
  • “Better Starts Now” — Citizen Watches
  • “Sears — Where Better Happens”
  • “For Friends Who Reach for Better” — Michelob
  • “The Business of Better” — Vonage
  • “Better Matters” and the annoyingly tautological “Better Is Better” — Verizon

Noun Into Verb

  • “Come TV with Us” — Hulu
  • “How to Television” — Amazon
  • “Let’s Holiday” — Skyy vodka
  • “Let’s Holiday” (again) — Chico’s clothing stores
  • “Be Ready to Winter” — Infiniti
  • “How Do You Breakfast?” — Hamilton Beach

Adjective Into Adverb

  • “Live Fearless” — Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • “Build it Beautiful” — Squarespace

Interjection Into Noun

  • “More Aaah” — Canada Dry

Canada Dry was at least a little original. Likewise, I was a tad impressed with the slogan of my local public radio station, WHYY — “Get More Interesting.” It uses anthimeria to make interesting into a noun, but there’s also a double meaning: “Become more interesting.” Similar plays on words are used by Staples (“Where More Happens”) and Lufthansa (“Discover More”).

The trend has pursued me to the other side of the world. I am writing this from Australia, where I’m teaching a study-abroad program. I was alarmed to alight in the Melbourne airport last week, look up, and see an ad for a company called Pure Storage: “Impossible Has Left the Building.”

I am second to no one in my appreciation for anthimeria and the way it gooses the English language. Without it we would not be able to go for a run or have a go at something. Shakespeare would not have been able to write half of his lines. We would not have such literary works as Kenneth Koch’s book about teaching poetry to kids, Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?,  or MTV’s series Pimp My Ride. Language peevers would not be able to peeve on impact as a verb (as in times of yore they peeved on contact as a verb).

Even the first hundred or so uses of anthimeria in ads could be seen as clever. But at this point, it’s a lazy, played-out cliché, and any copywriters who continue to resort to it should be ashamed of themselves.

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