The War on “The War On”

Have you seen the headlines? Here is a list of them that I jotted down over the last couple of weeks:

  • “The War on Google Search Effectiveness”
  • “The War on Facebook Advertising”
  • “Social’s War on Email Marketing”
  • “Data’s War on Marketing’s Hunches”

In an effort to get attention, and by that I mean clicks, media organizations, bloggers, and self-appointed gurus have evolved to write headlines that shock us. In a world where relevance and effectiveness is defined by eyeballs, and eyeballs are only won by standing out from the immense heap of content available, we default to shock.

And yes, I understand that there are other headline gimmicks that are just as bad as “The War” metaphor. And yes, sometimes I too am guilty of writing a headline for the sole purpose of getting clicks. We all are.

But I would like to protest continued use of the phrase “The War On”, and other variations of the same idea.

Firstly, companies do not wage war against each other. Consumers don’t wage war on each other or the companies that they purchase from. The government doesn’t even wage war on companies or it’s citizens. There are no wars to speak of when it comes to marketing and sales worlds.

Wars are very real, very terrible things. And to use a phrase aimed at getting clicks based on our individual associations with war seems to cross the line.

Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @zheller.