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Acrimonious.

Businesspeople killed “synergy.” The food industry killed “pumpkin spice.” Hipsters killed “curate.” And now advertisers are here to claim one more victim—“artisan.”

There’s technically nothing wrong with the word “artisan.” It has lived for centuries as a perfectly reasonable noun.


artisan: [ahr-tuh-zuh n] noun 1. a person skilled in an applied art; a craftsperson. 2. a person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods

There’s even a nice adjective variant of “artisan” called “artisanal.” Bowls, cheese, bread—all can rightfully be described as “artisanal.”

So, why do advertisers get “artisan” and “artisanal” so wrong?

Well let’s just go ahead and throw “artisanal” out because it’s two letters longer. Those extra two letters can be confusing and take a lot longer to read.

Now that we’ve settled on warping “artisan” into an adjective for itself, we can start applying it to products that fit the definition: high-quality or distinctive products made in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods. Like Tostitos Artisan Recipes tortilla chips, of course.

It’s bad enough that Frito-Lay thinks they can stretch “high-quality” into being an accurate descriptor of any of their products. But “made in small quantities” is on an entirely different plane of reality from anything that could possibly come from this multi-national corn-devouring conglomerate.

When it gets to the point that we’re using words to describe something that reflects the polar opposite of their definition, we’ve betrayed consumers to the point that they have no reason to believe anything we say.

Advertisers owe it to the general public to be truthful about the products they are selling. As advertising agency professionals, we owe it to our clients to make their products sound as enticing as possible. But as purveyors of our own craft, we owe it to ourselves—and the English language—to use words responsibly.

We shouldn’t just spit out words without the intent to convey their true meaning. We can’t mass-produce advertising copy to fill space. We have to respect our trade as if it were an art. Place each noun with care. Craft each adjective by hand. You know, like artisan advertisers.

Our guest blogger, Brian Zufall is a Senior Writer | Producer and Social Media Manager at Gibbons | Peck. His broad experience, deft usage, and curiosity about technology provide value to our clients. His snarky sense of humor is good for a lot of laughs around the Gibbons | Peck headquarters.

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