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October 02, 2012


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Not such an issue with purely physical, quantifiable claims like the UAE's, but another risk of using superlatives is believability. We are so used to hearing them, I think consumers tend to tune them out, or worse, not believe them--despite evidence to the contrary, etc.

When I see a press release claiming to be from the "leading" XYZ company, I don't even think I process the word. It simply adds nothing to the company's position.

Joe Cleaning

Really great read. I want to go and check out this tower some day, just looks ridiculous. I bookmarked this page so keep the blogs coming.

Matt Toll

Hi David - I'm tempted to call this the greatest blog post ever written, but I'll restrain myself ...

Which is sort of my point. In my experience (mostly financial services) I've found that legal restrictions dilute the power of superlative messages to the point that they end up with so many conditions applied to them that the impact is lost. It's rarely so cut-and-dried (and clearly provable) as a building's height, for example, so most of the time I've ended up with a watered-down message that assured little more than the fact that we (probably) wouldn't get sued.

I'd be interested to know if others experience the same thing. My sense is fin services is more gun-shy than most but maybe I'm wrong.

Safe travels! Matt

David Meerman Scott

Be3d - Now you're talking! I was hoping someone would pick up on that. You're right of course - some things are quantifiable (like the tallest building) but when you reach for superlatives like "leading provider of..." you are just annoying.

Matt - Good to hear from you. I think it becomes more difficult with intangibles. But one thing I keep thinking of is why even go there? I could plaster all over my site something like "the largest selling social media marketing book in the world" but I choose not to because it is not what my personal brand stands for.

Colin Warwick

Hi David, Sweet! When you get tired of this gig, will you let me have a go? I assume if you blog it, it's tax-deductible, right? :-)

John White


I was expecting you to round out the post with your signature riff: "Nobody cares about your products and services...Your buyers...care a great deal about solving their problems."

Marketing with superlatives is not marketing; it's an attempt at distraction. Marketing is telling me how the world's tallest building, fastest roller coaster and largest indoor snow park solve my problems.


Lewis LaLanne

I think gunning for holding the -est title is a bold move. I think it keeps you consistently striving to bring more value to the market.

One company that's earned a special place in the heart of people all over the planet is Disney and the their theme parks which they deem, "The Happiest Place On Earth".

I think this ambitious claim has forced Disney to stay on their toes and keep a laser focus on consistently delivering an experience to their customers that doesn't make them scoff at this claim, but rather playfully embrace it.

Everyone knows that this claim isn't to be taken literally but at the same time almost no one can argue with their success they've built on the back of this mighty proclamation.

And the backbone to the U.A.B. or Disney or Beverly Hills or anyone who's cultivated an -est mentality in the mind of an audience is constant and never ending improvement.


About 10 years ago the Dallas Zoo installed a statue of a giraffe with its tongue sticking out of its mouth. It's quite goofy looking. The tongue sticking straight up in the air makes it the tallest statue in Texas...Undoubtedly something they thought would bring more visitors. I guess it is more tangible than trying to say they have "the best looking animals in Texas." People are constantly snapping photos in front of it, and it has held the title for a decade. I guess in this case it can be considered a success.

David Meerman Scott

Colin - You're on to my secret...

John - You do that quote better than I do! I think this stuff has a role in a place like Dubai, but too many lazy marketers resort to it in inappropriate situations - "the world's leading supplier of enterprise level software for the oral surgery anesthesia market" (I made that up but you get the point).

Lewis - Great point on Disney. It does force them to maintain standards that support their claim. Thanks for sharing.

Creative80ds - I hear "everything is bigger in Texas" so claiming the tallest statue is really saying something!


I think the best adjective is FIRST because it's immediately verifiable and indicates novelty, which means, something is new, pay attention. You're the first at something.


When we talk about too much biggest, tallest, fastest, most probably we will ignore details and forget that successful marketing built on daily small habits.

It always gives people a wrong message that, we need to go big, go tall and go fast in order to succeed in marketing, but that is not true.

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