At At Minimum, Spokespeople Should Be Able to Speak

Earlier this week, Advertising Age posted a story about the Kellogg Co. consolidating its agency roster from thirty down to five.  As anyone who has lived through this nail-biting process well understands, a lot of agency people will be losing a lot of sleep for the duration of this process.

The comments regarding this story decry ad agencies for everything from pushing a dated creative model to displaying a crippling lack of differentiation to cowing to the commodity-creating evils of empowered procurement departments.  Yet none of them mention a part of those six terse paragraphs that comprise the story which set my teeth on edge.  Apparently, a “tight-lipped” Kellogg spokeswoman e-mailed this in response to an interview request: “On an ongoing basis, we have discussions across the broad remit of our partnerships regarding maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of our operations and efforts…  Those ongoing conversations are confidential.”

Time To Head Back.  Again.
Time To Head Back. Again.

For crying out loud, that overwrought tripe was put out by a spokesman?  That’s not communication, that’s robotic oration.  In one compound sentence, she manages to choke the communicative potential out of twenty-five words.  Legally-sanitized whitewash like this treats communication like a commodity; devoid of color, intonation and differentiating clarity.  I would have preferred that she write “Lorem ipsum dolor…”; it would have at least communicated her corporate obfuscation more colorfully.  And ‘remit’?  Come on…  To my wife’s ongoing embarrassment, I’ve read “It Pays To Enrich Your Word Power” in The Reader’s Digest for over thirty-five years, yet never once have I been tempted to reach for the word ‘remit’ let alone the more hysterically-florid ‘broad remit.’

Worse, it’s the wrong usage.  ‘Remit’ is most commonly used as a verb; as a noun it refers to a legal process of transferring records from one court to another.  So while Kellogg currently enjoys a ‘broad roster’ or a ‘broad aggregation’ or even a ‘broad assemblage’ if you feel compelled to get all fancy-pants, their thirty agencies do not comprise a ‘remit’ broad or otherwise.

But I bet they have plenty of people who could make a more compelling spokesperson…

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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