In a longer article about the role of truth in advertising, an advertising executive notes how two different terms about a house raise two very different ideas:
Language gives marketers power to construct positioning. Consider the difference between using the following terms to describe the exact same house: “executive home” or “McMansion.” The descriptors shape a relative interpretation and even can deliver a value judgment.
Here is a brief overview of what is associated with these two terms:
1. McMansion: mass produced, low quality, emblematic of suburban sprawl, residents are social strivers, too large, not green, more about glitz than substance.
2. Executive home: aspirational (who wouldn’t want to be a executive?), quality, a home (which implies not being mass produced), impressive with gravitas (the executive label).
This difference between terms is not inconsequential: Toll Brothers, one of the biggest builders of large homes in the United States, has claimed to build “executive homes” and does not like the McMansion label.
The decision about whether to call a home a McMansion or an “executive home” often depends on one’s standing and relationship to the designated home. For example, a neighbor who opposes the teardown next door is likely to call it a McMansion. The builder who is putting up the new luxury home is likely to call it a McMansion while an architect who is building a similar home several miles away shuns the McMansion label. So there might just be multiple advertising truths about the same home.