Oh shit, you’re dated.

Hello 911? Yes, a major brand just used “bae” on a billboard. Please send someone as fast as you can I’m really scared. Nothing is more ineffective than businesses trying to seem “cool and fun” by forcing themselves to implement pop culture references and slang into their messaging.

Many of us lived through the traumatic year where every brand imaginable feverishly threw “& chill” into their ads without pausing to remember what that part of the catch phrase actually means. Some of us are still scarred by the onslaught of “YASSSS” into mainstream marketing. Ditto for “Slay!” (*Breaks out in a cold sweat just thinking about  it.*)

These are the type of “shortcuts to fun” that are very easy to sniff out. It’s like a narc goin up to teens and saying, “Man, weed is cool, amirite? We should do some weed drug together, broseph.”

And the thing is, your customers are as smart and suspicious as alley-smoking teens, so when you try and lazily spice up your brand by half-assing some pop culture jargon? You’ll become the very thing you were trying to avoid: irrelevant.

So, if you really want to do something fresh, energizing, and entertaining with your messaging, do the work. Find out what is funny and true and unspoken and surprising and silly and interesting and self-deprecating and say it in a way that a real, live, human would do it. That’s when people laugh with you not at you; that’s when you start to win people over.

Lucky for you (and us), having a good time and making people smile is always cool.