Call’d by Dulness
Many of our brands are more than a century old but still make a powerful difference in life’s moments that matter the most.
We’re transforming Newell Brands into a leading, global consumer goods company, led by passionate people and powered by advantaged capabilities, ultimately becoming a simpler, faster and stronger organization.
Focusing our portfolio, structures and priorities on what really matters to respond more quickly and succeed in a rapidly changing retail and consumer environment.
Changing the way we work to be more responsive through an empowered Division-led approach that fosters greater alignment and connectedness.
Leveraging advantaged capabilities in brand building, innovation, design and eCommerce that set us apart for greater impact in the marketplace.
How does a company get itself featured on Unblotted? Mere mediocrity is not sufficient. We seek something more.
Pope’s Dunciad, source of this week’s headline, proposes that really bad writing shares some of the same creative impulses as the good stuff. That’s certainly what we smelt in the wind when we came across the following on the Rubbermaid website:
Newell Brands is a global marketer of consumer and commercial products that touch millions of people every day where they work, live and play.
The sentence caught our attention because, although ineffectual, it is clearly the product of careful thought. Beginning with a statement of the client’s particular expertise, it moves via a brief resume of Newell’s activities to an indication of the human significance of the company’s success. (Is there a checklist somewhere?) Yet the sum effect of all those efforts is to displace the reader’s attention from the proper subject of the sentence — Newell Brands — to a syntactically obscure object which may be the company’s products, its consumers, or their homes and workplaces.
As a living example of those workings which the Dunciad calls Dulness, Jove & Fate, this was sufficient to direct us to Newell’s corporate website. We weren’t disappointed by what we found, and we don’t think Pope would have been, either.
The ‘Our Company’ statement which begins our example is unquestionably the work of the copywriter we encountered at Rubbermaid. It displays exactly the same syntactic flaw, and the same toxic combination of attention to detail and bad ear.
Other texts are from pages elsewhere in Newell’s ‘Our Company’ section. It’s possible that they are from the same hand but, because of the site’s poor organization, we can only speculate about their origins.
The abuse of non-finite clauses in the last three provides no clue to authorship, since the problem it exemplifies is an industry-wide one. While we’d love to tell you that the world has few writers capable of an abomination like powered by advantaged capabilities, we’d be lying. And, whatever the identity of the author, why on earth was that first ‘Our Company’ statement structured to make the age of Newell’s brands seem a disadvantage?
Newell Brands maintains a portfolio of familiar, long-lived consumer and commercial brands. We concentrate on homely products that you can rely on when you need them most.
Newell Brands pursues a strategy of consolidation, harnessing the diverse skills of our component businesses to the larger goal of building a global consumer goods company.
At Newell Brands, we operate an ongoing policy of refocusing, ensuring that our objectives, brand portfolio and internal organization remain aligned with the requirements of a dynamic consumer environment.
At Newell Brands, we constantly seek improved corporate responsiveness via an innovative, division-led organizational structure.
At Newell Brands, we consolidate our market leadership by leveraging core strengths in branding, business innovation, design and sales.