We’re all VIPs now.
I disconnected from several other types of media this morning to read a funny post on the www.talknormal.co.uk blog by journalist turned warrior-on-vacuous-twaddle, Tim Phillips.
I’m regretting it now, because it appears I’m not as important as I thought I was.
Tim’s been keeping score of the number of times press releases mention ‘VIP’ over the years and he’s noticed an arms race of inflationary hyperbole. The term ‘VIP’ is now used about a gazillion times a year more often than it was ten years ago. And as the expressions’ true currency has been debased, it’s slid from being a solid noun to an airy-fairy adjective – and has been progressively hollowed out in the process. Today, it’s not enough even to be offered the VIP option.
For me to be lured into paying money to go beyond the velvet rope, I now need the promise of the luxury VIP option. It’s an ongoing glamour grab and soon, I hope to see the exclusively reserved selected luxury VIP limited edition options for my life.
I think there’s a cultural as well as linguistic irony at work here. As everyone has been led to believe that at work or in the queue for a council parking permit, that they are equal citizens regardless of race, colour, accent or sexuality, this ‘empowerment’ has also led them to believe that they are uniquely and specially important. We are all VIPs. I know I am.
Currently, in the midst of an ongoing financial horror story, all of our clients (not just Christie’s and Kaupthing Bank, and the other brands aiming at the ‘high end’) are faced with a challenge in their writing: treat people as VIPs but don’t make believe like you’re expensive. Personally, I think the solution is that whatever market a brand is in, getting the language and verbal identity of the space right depends on excluding many more people than you try to include.
You can read Tim’s post here, including his reimagining of the 1963 melodrama “The VIPs”, which starred Orson Welles: http://talknormal.co.uk/2011/09/15/living-the-dream/
Meanwhile, on a recent trip through an airport, I was reminded of a much more honest appraisal of a traveller’s worth: