You would think that in 2010, spokespeople would be smart enough not to repeat a negative phrase as part of an interview or as a phrase in an advertising campaign. Surprisingly, it still goes on.
This month, the country of Colombia has launched a new tourism campaign. So what do you think of when you think of Columbia? Do you think about the risk of cocaine drug lords, the risk of hostage taking and killings? Do you think about how you might be risking your life if you travel there?
The new Colombian tourism ads use the word “risk.” It’s a nice try at a play on words, but someone should fire the agency that agreed to write and produce these spots.
The commercials are beautiful and enticing on their own. But as soon as you hear the phrase “risk,” it makes you remember the danger, and causes you to second guess any notion of falling in love with the enticing images of the commercial.
This latest example comes on the heels of Christine O’Donnell’s failed run for the U.S. Senate from Delaware. After announcing on cable TV that she dabbled in witchcraft, she tried to defend her candidacy by repeating the phrase, “I’m not a witch” in countless interviews and even used it as the opening phrase in her TV commercials. Dumb, dumb, dumb. If you do a Google search for “I’m not a witch,” O’Donnell comes up several million times.
The rule is, you never repeat a negative word or phrase. As you prepare for your next interview or media training class, purge your answers of the negatives and learn how to answer questions without adding negative phrases.