Brands Liberally Using The Term ‘Bae’ To Be Down With The Young People

Most of the time, it's like your parents trying to talk to you in slang.

Words tend to go in and out of fashion like anything else. What was once “groovy” became “cool” or “dope” or “phat.” These days, these verbal trends spread digitally on social media. So adults and brands have a chance to see a word pop up and gain prominence among the youths.

Unfortunately, instead of leaving it at that, adults who have technically aged out of these sorts of things try to use the slang themselves. Even worse, brands try to use it to be down with the kids.

One of the latest words to know is “bae.” And now we have @BrandsSayingBae to chronicle companies’ attempts to become their customers’ “bae” by using the word over and over again in tweets.

According to Urban Dictionary, “bae” means “poop” in Danish, your girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other and “before anyone else.” And, as The Wall Street Journal points out, it can also be used to refer to objects that you want, like a great meal. (Who knew the Journal was keeping up?)

The paper asks, “Does ‘bae’ actually help companies sound more relatable?” Very good question. Answer: No.

For the most part, these are simply chuckle-worthy; ways to engage with people, particularly young people who you’re hoping to foster some loyalty with. When done well, it’s worth a quick kudos to both the brand and the social media manager they hired who has managed to grab on to some pop culture nugget and use it in a way that makes sense. But very quickly, things can turn ugly.

Overuse of a term or a failure to capture the nuance of how to use a term are the greatest offenses.

 

And it’s not just “bae” that @BrandsSayingBae tracks. There’s also “on fleek.”

Bruh.”

“Swag.”

 

And whatever this is.

 

But also, it’s weird for people to just casually engage with a brand. Ultimately, the brand is trying to sell something. As a fan, you purchase their goods, perhaps talk up something you’re particularly fond of, or complain about something that’s gone wrong, and then go back to looking at other stuff on your feed.

The key is to capture a moment when it kind of works. Ultimately, brands will continue hiring twentysomethings to man their social media accounts just for this sort of thing. And that’s fine, but it should be used sparingly. Seriously IHOP. Sparingly.