I've never worked for Time-Warner, okay? So over the years, I've often had to write the journalism and the promotional copy to sell the journalism (and seminars and books).
The styles sure are different. In journalism, for instance, you don't say "FREE gift" unless you're trying to give your copy editor a coronary. Nor do you describe your sources as "eminent authorities" or "renowned experts." And as a journalist, when you're writing about an event that doesn't include lunch, you don't tell your readers, "Enjoy lunch on your own!"
But that's what you do in marketing prose. And the question is: Why?
The only theory I've been able to come up with—the only intellectual justification for writing such bullshit—is that Americans appreciate, nay demand, what my friend Hugh Iglarsh used to call, "the hint of the hustle."
The theory goes: In America, we want our salespeople to prove they want our business by doing a kind of shimmy-sham dance. We don't want them to lie to us and we don't want them to overdo it. We want just what Hugh says—just a hint of the hustle. We want to know the seller doesn't think he's too good to beg just a little for our business. And in America, this is how we beg.
Readers, do you agree with this theory of mine? Or is there another reason why marketing copy designed to sell products reads so differently from our journalism written to convey facts?