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Kiersten Toye
September 09, 2017

Why Vernacular Advertising Should Be Trending with Brands


Here’s a riddle: what do the words “pop,” “soft drink” and “coke “have in common? Aside from the fact that “O” is the second letter in their names, these words are all synonymous terms used to describe soda. These terms relate to the linguistic concept called vernacular.

Vernacular refers to conversational speech that relates to a specific location’s native dialect. In other words, it’s the reasoning behind a New Yorker referring to a sandwich as a “hero” and a Philly native insisting that same sandwich is a “hoagie.”

Other than being a literary buzzword, understanding vernacular is a beneficial skill for advertisers to have. Efficiently executing an advertising campaign has become an evident necessity for businesses, which is why brands worldwide are projected to spend over $724 billion on advertising by 2020. One overt factor of a triumphant campaign is its ability to incorporate personalization. Personalization is continually craved by consumers across each industry. While 77% of consumers will choose, recommend, or pay more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience, more than 78% of consumers admit to only engaging brand offers that are personalized based on their standing with the company. Hence, brands who use personalization are able to gain more loyal consumers than one-time buyers.

Vernacular advertising is one strategy that can strengthen consumer personalization endeavors. This type of personalized advertising helped the food delivery company Seamless gain recognition from their New York consumers. Back in 2015, Seamless gained an Adweek shoutout for using the lingo and experiences of everyday New Yorkers in their “How New York Eats” ad campaign. The campaign's content was positioned in areas most New Yorkers visit like subways and bus stops. The ads themselves used area-centric terms such as location nicknames to depict situations the everyday New Yorker was accustomed to seeing.

seamless prewar ad.jpeg

Seamless’s success with that campaign angle inspired the company to repurpose it the following year. They continued to utilize the New York persona in their messages, even giving a nod to the L Train’s expected shutdown that has been in the forefront of New Yorkers’ minds.

seamless l train ad.jpgLike Seamless, your brand can benefit from vernacular advertising. While in pursuit of innovating your next ad campaign, organize a vernacular-based strategy by following these steps:

1. Define your campaign audience.
Pay close attention to demographics such as location and age range. Is your audience New York commuters who take a particular train or bus service to work? Or are your ads meant to attract 21+ Bostonians to a new beer brand?

2. Research words and phrases relevant to your demographic.
Each person has their own lingo of choice. Take the time to investigate your audience’s preferred lingo to inspire your ad’s message. Through this investigation, you’ll discover why “wicked” is more than a musical in Massachusetts and “Penn” isn’t just a writing tool to New Yorkers.

3. Brainstorm your ad’s vernacular-inspired message.
Incorporate your word findings into your ad copy. After choosing dialect-savvy copy that’s fit for that personal audience, pair it with visuals that compliment the campaign in honor of its designated area of delivery.

By recognizing a target audience’s vernacular, brands can introduce an innovative angle of personalization into their ads.

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