Old Navy’s ad campaign uses Portmanteaus. It’s a nod to the Mayans and end times.
The first time I heard a play on the word Armageddon was during Oklahoma’s Icemageddon 2007. It was seriously one of the worst things I’ve ever lived through. I heard it again during Oklahoma’s Snow-zilla 2010 and Heat-pocalypse 2011.
These words are portmanteaus. They’re two or more words or morphemes combined to form one word. Think wurly, spork, smog, or even the name-meshing of Brangenlina.
Unfortunately, Old Navy’s new holiday ad campaign, Cheermageddon (The Most Epically Friendly Black Friday Ever) has ruined all our fun.
Sardonic Gen Xers, Obstinate Gen Y
As Carl Wilson wrote last year in his New York Times piece on the nostalgia boom with Generation X, sarcasm is endemic of Gen Xers if not pathological. We still love our irony. If our collective persona was a pantheon, Sardonic Humor and Derisive Mocking would have their own marble statues.
We’ve bequeathed this love of irony to Generation Y. Most ripe for this inheritance were those Millennials in the hipster subculture. As one of my favorite bloggers, ToB, explains in her post, Recession, Apocalypse and Hipster Futures, they are caught in a vicious circle of rejecting anything that is accessible to mainstream culture. So, they may start out digging retro clothing, but the second it becomes mainstream they move to a counter-counter cultural position. Contrarian is the key attitude. Obstinacy is inveterate.
What does all this have to do with Cheermageddon? Only everything. The second Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse were accepted into the English language lexicon, any marketing or public relations projects borrowing inspiration from the portmanteaus would risk falling flat if not completely backfiring. Even if silly was their goal, and I think it probably was, does silly sell toggle coats? I’m not sure.
Aside from all this, I think the campaign could be a little off-putting to Christians who observe Christmas as a religious holiday. Armageddon comes from the Book of Revelation. It is explained as the site of a battle during end times. Old Navy combining an exclusive Biblical reference with a Christmas shopping campaign fails to hit the sweet and safe spot of sardonic humor.
Cheermageddon is goofy, not snarky. Cheesy, not ironic. In fact, the most ironic thing about it is the sneering it invites: OMG. We’re all going to buy!
What do you think of Cheermageddon?
Can you think of other portmanteaus?