Chat speak, message board shorthand that distills comprehensible words and phrases into bits of alphabet soup (LOL, BTW, FWIW, etc., etc.), is, broadly speaking, either acceptable—or abominable. Which view you take depends on a host of factors, the most telling of which, alas, may be your age. Me personally, I find chat speak abominable … except when I use it.
I imagine I’m not the only person born before 1990 (okay, 1970) who is conflicted in this matter. As a writer, I love the English language and believe it should be used wisely and thoughtfully, treating it with the same care a musician would bestow on an exquisite violin or guitar. Chat speak, it seems to me, sucks the vitality out of our language, replacing the expressive, descriptive power of words with a lifeless Morse code of letters. That’s okay for ship-to-shore chatter or the blabber and banter of much of today’s electronic communication, but it’s entirely inadequate for more substantial expressions of thought, which can only be conveyed by the power of the written or spoken word.
On the other hand, the English language (as it’s spoken here in the U.S.) is perhaps the most flexible, adaptable language on the planet—as you’d expect from a nation whose fundamental principles include freedom of speech. Our language is a thing in perpetual transition, changing with the times to reflect the times we live in. Chat speak is, for better or worse, an example of the adaptability of our language and our ability to shape it to our times and needs. Heck, even the erudite Oxford English Dictionary has initialisms such as OMG, LOL and BFF in its latest edition.
So, then … is chat speak acceptable in the language of advertising? My answer: absolutely maybe. There’s no reason not to use it in advertising directed to Gen Chat Speak, and little reason to employ it in advertising directed to non-chat speakers. Advertisers love to portray themselves as truly understanding their markets, and appropriate language is one way to communicate this sympatico persona. Chat speak, then, like every other device at the marketer’s disposal, is permissible when it is appropriate and makes senses. EIC* as they say.
*EIC—Everything In Context. That’s my humble contribution to the lexicon of chat speak.