Saturday, 9 February 2008


NOTE: This post is dedicated to pisspoorenglish who made this initial observation the other week. (Once again, thanks for your comments man - oh! and the link too. I've now returned the favour...)

So. The word "nice." You hear it a lot round here in Ad. Country, I'm afraid.

Nice. Nice, nice, nice. I'll say it again. N-I-C-E. Nice. Just. Nice. From an onomatopoeic point of view it does sound kinda insipid doesn't it, like a pensioner sneezing or something -ah! -nice. Bless you.

But nice is the ultimate in faint praise. And no-one (in their heart) likes to hear it. Because nice could always do better. Nice is not superlative; lovely, excellent, ace or incredible. Nice is...well, just nice. Except, perhaps, in the studio-jargon of the ad-man. Where, for some reason, it could mean absolutely anything at all.

Whether it's via another creative, or an agency director, at some point we've all had our work described as "nice." And depending how it's said, nice can mean everything from "fucking fantastic" to just "quite promising." And I for one(along with pisspoorenglish) am fucking sick of it. It drives me up the bloody wall. Here's why:

When I was at college my art lecturer used to circulate around the studio, pseudishly pausing from time to time to consider whatever bollocks any one of us happened to be painting/sketching at that time. With a flick of his sports-jacket, he'd suddenly stand all hipshot, left hand in his pocket, right hand on his chin. Then, waving at a random area of your canvas/drawing board, he'd mutter, "This is... interesting." Then, when you pressed him for more info, maybe by asking "What this bit?" or "Do you mean the foreshortening?" he'd sort of sigh very earnestly and just go, "Yeah. Interesting," before skulking back into the shadows and leaving you none-the-effing-wiser.

And this is the problem with "nice." Nice isn't a judgement or an opinion, or even an assessment . Nice is just a repsonse, in the same way that "interesting" was to my cock of an art teacher. Nice gives the impression of expressing a view before one has clearly been formed. And in that sense, nice is a front. But in the ad man's studio, being able to hedge your opinions is a pretty useful thing to do, not least since a lot of what goes on is (don't tell the account managers) pretty abstract anyway. But by the same token, that's surely all the more reason to be direct with people. I spent all week last week with a serial "nice" offender: "Hmm. Nice." "Oh, that's nice." "Yeah. Nice." "Nice. Yeah." "Nice... nice." And whilst it gave me an inkling that (at least some of) my work was good, I then had to second guess all the bits which might not be.

So. Can we all please stop using the word nice and just be honest with eachother. I know this job can be all farty and floaty but let's not make it any more pseudish than it already is by talking to eachother in abstract, mysterious terms. I really value and respect the opinions of everyone I've ever worked with, so -please god!-let's hear 'em.

And besides, should n't we be saving our bullshit for the clients? ;-)

1 comment:

pisspoorenglish said...

Ha, thanks for the link and the comment too!

Appreciate the back up in the war versus Nice. I shall try to rid it from my vocabulary from now onwards.

Though the biscuits, mmm Nice...