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Crafty Advertising

I enjoy this word as a noun. It calls to mind notions of human skill in moulding challenging materials to suit human need. I think of goldsmiths producing exquisite precious objects for their royal patrons. I think of potters and carpenters, weavers and leatherworkers. In the past a craft has been associated with membership of a guild, a sort of prototype trades union for craftsmen by which standards and prices were regulated. The term ‘Masterpiece’ originates in the example of workmanship an apprentice was required to produce in order to qualify for the title ‘Master’ and to be admitted as a full member of such a guild.

I regret that I increasingly see this word used as a verb. The advertising industry are responsible, of course. It is not enough the manufacturers should make things. If I may imagine their thought processes, they might have conceived that merely making things suggests soulless mass-production, churning things out on a ceaseless production line without consideration for creativity or care. ‘Crafting’ things, on the other hand, suggests a loving devotion to quality and for the creative process itself. We imagine quaint workshops lined with tools, the dedicated craftsman at his bench patiently bringing miracles of artifice into the world, rather than some massive factory. So now making is not enough. Now my coffee has been 'crafted', it appears.

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