From Janetta Roach, Senior Editor, Palio
In advertising, it can be challenging to come up with fresh ideas – whether through imagery or words. As an editor, my job is to tackle the latter, ensuring that copy is not only grammatically and stylistically correct, but also improving the choice of words, if possible.
The other day I was researching a brand and came across the term portmanteau and was struck by how applicable it is to advertising.
Its original meaning derives from the French words porter (to carry) and manteau (coat) to describe a clothing bag or suitcase popular in 19th century Europe. However, it was Lewis Carroll who introduced a secondary meaning for the term in his 1871 classic Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. Humpty Dumpty explains, “Well, ‘slithy’ means ‘lithe and slimy.’… You see it’s like a portmanteau – there are two meanings packed up into one word.” Hence, Merriam Webster’s secondary definition for the term: “a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog).”
It’s no surprise that the world of advertising is rife with examples. Brands are prolific in their use of portmanteau words. Take Amgen, for example. It’s a portmanteau of applied molecular genetics. Amtrak is a portmanteau of the words America and track. FedEx is a portmanteau of federal and express. Intel is a portmanteau of integrated and electronics. Microsoft is a portmanteau of microcomputer and software. Even our very own inVentiv Health is a portmanteau of inChord and Ventiv Health.
Advertorial – advertisement + tutorial
AmEx – American + Express
Blog – web + log
Bollywood – Bombay + Hollywood
Brunch – breakfast + lunch
Camcorder – camera + recorder
Infomercial – information + commercial
Jazzercise – jazz + exercise
Nabisco – national + biscuit + company
Rolodex – rolling + index
Sitcom – situation + comedy
Verizon – veritas + horizon
So next time you’re struggling to come up with some original copy, try blending some words together and see if you find a winning combination. Who knows, you might create the next brand name or catchphrase that will Never be forgotton!
Palio is a full-spectrum global pharmaceutical and consumer advertising, marketing, and communications agency that excels in brand creation and specializes in brand strategy, product launches, global marketing, and digital and integrated media.