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The hyping of innovation

Isn’t it time for a moratorium on using the word innovation in advertising where it’s been relegated it to a nearly meaningless, over-hyped buzzword.

As an example, a recent commercial shows a young father-to-be who realizes that his two seat sports car is not exactly going to be family friendly. He proceeds to walk around the car and tug at each corner to stretch the car into a performance sedan.

The commercial then dubs it a four door sports car. No problem there, but where they lose me is when they proclaim the car to be “Innovation for daddy – Innovation for all.”





I’m sorry. It’s a clever commercial, but the idea of a four door sports car is far from being innovative. The performance sedan has been around for ages now as has the branding.

I’m not saying that the company isn’t innovative or that the car doesn’t have some innovative features. It’s just that labeling everything you market as “innovation” dilutes the true meaning.

It’s time to take back innovation from the advertisers and return its meaning to the powerful capability that it is.

What do you think?


{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Chuck Dymer October 25, 2010, 12:03 pm

    Michael,
    You’re right: innovation has been overplayed to the point of meaninglessness. What’s worse, innovation is misunderstood or misused by those of us who teach creative thinking and innovation techniques to business people. Creative thinking is the generation of ideas; innovation is making the ideas real. Because the terms are used interchangeably, many folks have no clear sense of what they’re providing their clients and clients have no sense of what they’re buying or practicing. Confusion abounds.
    Too bad, really. If ever there were a time when creative thinking and innovation are needed–it’s now. What isn’t needed is hype.

    • Michael A. Dalton October 25, 2010, 1:19 pm

      Thanks Chuck – I like the distinction you make which is really the difference between invention and innovation. Invention (by someone, somewhere) being necessary, but not sufficient, to create innovation.

  • Rich Cruz October 25, 2010, 3:21 pm

    I agree, but “innovative” is only the beginning. There are an abundance of overplayed buzz words in advertising.
    Here’s just a small list:
    http://258marketing.wordpress.com/2008/03/11/100-overused-marketing-words-and-phrases/

    What kind of slogan would you creative for this commercial?

    • Michael A. Dalton October 25, 2010, 4:12 pm

      Thanks for the list Rich – William Zinser, author of one of my favorites “On Writing Well,” would gag on most of them.

      As far as the slogan, “the 4 door sports car” works fine – the innovation tag line just seems so out of left field on this ad….

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