The Power of Words
Words that_ Excite
Think back. Which words have caused the greatest excitement in your life?
Maybe ‘Congratulations, you got the job!’
Or ‘Will you marry me?’
How about ‘It’s a boy!’
The word ‘excite’ can mean to cause others to feel enthusiastic and eager about something. It can also be defined as giving rise to a feeling or reaction – to provoke, stir up, elicit, rouse, or incite. One thing’s for sure, for words to excite, they need to make us feel something. It’s all about the emotional response.
As the official beer of the England football team, Carlsberg threw everything at their 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign. They played on their famous advertising format:
“Carlsberg don’t do X, but if they did it would probably be the best X in the world”.
Their televised advert set out to be the world’s greatest team talk, firing up the England national team and their fans for the tournament.
Beginning in the dressing room, the advert follows the England players as they make their way out to the pitch. Legendary English sporting heroes line the route, encouraging the team, while a voiceover delivers the team talk:
“Who says you can’t conquer all? Who says you can’t be a world beater twice? Remember your history…”
As the energy builds, it reaches an emotional peak:
“So be strong. And do it for your country. For the fans. For Bobby.”
The camera pans to a graffiti image of the late Sir Bobby Robson (England manager between 1982 – 1980 and indisputable football icon) holding the cross of St George. For a few seconds, there is no sound.
Then the silence is broken, cheering erupts and the voice over concludes:
“It’s time to join the immortals”.
The team ascend the stairs to join World Cup winning captain, Bobby Moore, accompanied by a roaring lion, who leads them onto the pitch.
You only need to read the comments under the advert on YouTube to understand its effect on the viewer. “Gives me goose bumps”, says one commenter. “Sends shivers down me”, says another. “This video should hype up any England player. This is all they need to show. It is f*cking fantastic.” Maybe Carlsberg should do team talks after all.
Using simple, short phrases, Donald Trump successfully tapped into his supporters’ feelings to whip up a frenzy during his campaign rallies.
Drain the swamp. Lock her up. Build the wall.
He only had to touch on the current establishment, his opponent, or immigration for the crowds to chant these phrases, and at his encouragement.
While exciting one half of the USA, he enraged the other. Now President, Donald Trump continues to elicit strong emotional responses, both positive and negative, each time he speaks or tweets.
Stories have the power to excite. Before the written word, stories were passed down by word of mouth through generations of oral poets.
Poets recited their work as entertainment, often in the evening after dinner when there was little else to do. To be entertaining, these stories and performances needed to be exciting.
Let’s take the Iliad, which famously begins:
“Sing, O muse, of the rage of Achilles, son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans.”
Hearing these words signalled the beginning of an epic story of adventure, drama, triumph, and tragedy; of gods and mortals.
In ancient Greece, the poet began by invoking the divine inspiration of the Muse. The speaker of an epic poem was believed to be the vessel for the divine inspiration and therefore warranted the audience’s attention.
The theme (in this case, the rage of Achilles), was announced at the beginning of the story, to excite the audience and allow them to follow the unfolding action.
The Iliad also begins in the tenth year of the Trojan war, rather than at the beginning. Known as ‘in media res’, starting in the middle of the action is a convention used to captivate and excite the audience from the very first word.
We know how to use words to excite. If you want to create a buzz about your business, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or better still, give us a call on 01206 585111.
Next month: Success, with words that achieve!