Betty White, the Daily Quest for Coffee & Why Every Word Matters

The other morning I was waiting in the drive-thru like all the other early morning schmucks who didn't have time to actually sit and enjoy their coffee.

It was a fairly long line of cars, but I was grooving to some Snow Patrol and experiencing a rather Pavlovian response to my upcoming French Vanilla Latté.

I'm usually a sucker for the ads they place along the drive-thru.  It's not fair really, you have nowhere else to go and nowhere else to look once you've read the bumper stickers on the car in front of you.

That morning's gem - I didn't have religion until my ex taught me about HELL - way too much information pal.  And by the way, you'll never have another date again, all thanks to a bumper sticker.  So after you've calculated the odds of that guy ending up alone for the rest of his life there's nowhere else to look but the ads.

You casually glance over at the glossy photo of the latest donut of the month, and if you're like me you think, wow, you've combined chocolate with salted caramel and deep fried pastry and it's only for a limited time?  I MUST TRY ONE! And every resolution to just order a coffee goes right out the window.

But this particular morning I had a completely different reaction to this ...

drive-thru muffin ad

All I could think of was the SNL skit with Betty White, Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer.  You know the one where they're on NPR's Delicious Dishes.  And the girls moan and gush of the deliciousness of Betty's muffin?  It's a twist on the classic Sweddy Balls skit with Alec Baldwin.  And definitely worth a watch if you haven't seen it.

In my mind, I could hear Betty White's voice every time I read those words.  No artificial flavours or colours.  Just delicious muffin. Trust me that line would have fit perfectly with the skit.

Which proves that   

  • my mind is stuck in the gutter
  • I watch way too much SNL
  • this coffee shop is edgier than I thought (although I doubt it 'cause it really doesn't match the rest of their brand)


They didn't get the wording quite right.  No big deal right?  Well, although I appreciated the laugh it was one morning I was able to just order a coffee.

So what's the lesson?

Every.  Word.  Counts.

It must be exactly the right word.  Every time.  Close enough will muddle the message.  It will leave your audience laughing about something they've remembered instead of craving the thing you're selling.  Or caring about the cause you're championing.  

Here's one of my favourite quotes about the awesome agony that is writing - "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug," Mark Twain.