Appropriate Language

Submitted by: Dave Trott 12/04/2017

Creating great ad campaigns is an art - especially if they are to be effective across the entire media spectrum. We have teamed up with Dave Trott, one of the greatest creativity gurus, to inspire you...

One of the most motivational speeches of all time is reckoned to be General

Patton’s speech to the Third Army before D day.

It isn’t a pretty speech.

It wasn’t made to be reprinted in newspapers and read by civilians.

It was meant for soldiers.

Hard, tough, men whose dirty business was killing or being killed.

There’s only one way to talk to people like that.

Not just a corny appeal to patriotism, that only works for politicians.

You talk to people in their own language.

He started like this:

“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.

You win a war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his


That got their attention.

Then he quickly got down to the actual business of how to survive, in simple,

impactful, soldier’s language:

“I don't give a fuck for a man who is not always on his toes.

There are four hundred neatly marked graves in Sicily, all because one

man went to sleep on the job.

But they are German graves, because we caught the bastard asleep

before his officer did.”

It turns the usual fear-based threat on its head.

This is simple: kill, or be killed.

And this is powerful grownup advice on how to survive and do just that.

Then he acknowledges that he knows they didn’t come here to be heroes.

They just want to get it all over with.

He acknowledges that and turns it on its head:

“Sure, we all want to go home.

And the shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo.

I don't want any messages saying 'I'm holding my position.'

We're advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding anything

except the enemy's balls.

We're not just going to shoot the bastards, we're going to rip out their

living goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks.”

Finally, he accepts his reputation for driving the men beyond what’s

reasonable to expect.

He turns it on its head to show how this will actually save their lives:

“There will be some complaints that we're pushing our people too hard. I

don't give a damn about such complaints. I believe that an ounce of

sweat will save a gallon of blood. The harder we push, the more

Germans we kill.

The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing

harder means fewer casualties.

I want you all to remember that.”

After that speech, Patton’s Third Army went through Europe like a whirlwind.

They destroyed nearly a thousand German tanks.

They killed over half a million enemy soldiers, and captured nearly a million


They built 2,500 bridges, captured 80,000 square miles of enemy held

territory and liberated over a thousand cities and towns.

In an off-the-record interview, Patton explained to a journalist why he’d used

the language he’d used.

Put simply, you talk to a soldier in a soldier’s language:

"When I want my men to remember something important, to really make

it stick, I give it to them dirty.

It may not sound nice to a bunch of little old ladies at a tea party, but it

helps my soldiers remember it.

You can't run an army without profanity, but it has to be eloquent


An army without profanity couldn't fight its way out of a piss-soaked

paper bag."

What we can learn from Patton is that, how to motivate people, is to talk to

them not in the language of the boardroom.

Not in the polite language you would prefer to use.

Whether we’re talking to school teachers, little old ladies, construction

workers, pole dancers, Oxbridge dons, children, or soldiers.


We have to talk to people in their own language.

Taken from 'One Plus One Equals Three' 
Written in Dave Trott's distinctive, almost Zen-like style, One Plus On Equals Three is a collection of provocative anecdotes and thought experiments designed to light a fire under your own creative ambitions.