Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Word: Responsibility

Yes, The Word today is very similar to my accountability post from the beginning of April, but believe me, it is with purpose. So let's dig in.

responsibility: \ri-ˌspän(t)-sə-ˈbi-lə-tē\

Function: noun
Date: 1737

1: the quality or state of being responsible: as a: moral, legal, or mental accountability b: reliability, trustworthiness

2: something for which one is responsible : burden <has neglected his responsibilities>

Earlier, I stated that I was absolutely certain "accountability" was on the verge of seeing it's day in the sun. The reason, I stated, was in its definition of responsibility. Well guess what? Responsible, accountable, and their related variations are popping up everywhere in advertising, politics, and every-day life.

Case in point, when I went to good old Merriam-Webster's to get the definition of responsibility, their sponsored link was one of the advertisers I've been watching: Liberty Mutual. Now, Liberty Mutual is actually ahead of the curve. They've had an ad campaign for at least two years that has highlighted everyday personal responsibility. They're responsible for producing one of my all-time favorite commercials (pun intended):

Their Responsibility Project is really ramping up now that there is a spotlight shining on corporate and financial sector accountability. The commercial above, from 2007, was light-hearted, a little whimsical even, but its point came across. Their new ad campaign, which started about a month ago, reflects the present darker times by exploring heavier themes that are playing out in households all across the United States:

As predicted, these are the new buzzwords and organizations are beginning to latch on to them. CNN AC360's new tag line is simply "Accountability" (I can't provide a source, apparently CNN's commercials aren't YouTube-worthy). Counter Insecticide's is simply "Responsible." Even Doritos is getting in on the action with its Eat Responsibly commercial.

Additionally, I've probably heard our politicians, Republicans and Democrats, use the word "accountability" and "responsibility" in relation to taxes, spending, regulations, the environment, and any other major issues you can think of (and right now, the all seem to be major) over a hundred times in the last month or so. The mayor of Warren, Michigan, even made it a point to take responsibility when he got caught speeding, even though he'd been let off with a warning. He said that he "had to set an example." It's good to see that what is expected of regular folk is now beginning to be expected of our elected higher officials.

Bottom line? Responsibility: It's not just for beer commercials anymore.

It's also for beer flavored chips.


Responsibility was also the Word of the Day today for the #wordaday Tweets I post on Twitter. Click here to see previous installments of #wordaday with #quote accompaniment.

1 comment:

  1. SaraDuane, hopefully I won't get off track here...

    I don't know if you knew this (and really, why would you!) but aside from radio and writing, I teach acting/voice at one of the children's theatre companies here in town. The word I base my entire class on - and I say it in Class One of Session One: Responsibility.

    I tell the kids (13 to 17-year-olds) quite directly that the class is set up like a professional repertory company. They need to be...

    - Responsible to themselves
    - Responsible to each other
    - Responsible to me

    If just one of those components breaks down, the class breaks down.

    I am also forever telling them to PLEASE, be responsible (or accountable) when texting, on Facebook...anywhere online or using electronic communication. So many young people (and older ones) don't seem to have a grasp of how what they "say" online can have disastrous consequences to them off line...face-to-face with someone at a college interview, a job interview...anywhere.

    Anyway, I'm struck by how many people using social media have this idea that says "Social media allows me to be FREE -- I can say what I want because it's about...being honest."

    I had a gal in a very high position with a professional sports team (she handles their social media) tell me this...with a straight face. As though being on Twitter meant she could trash whomever she needed because...hey, it's about being honest. Being Real.

    Sure. Honest and Real. Nice to be able to absolve ourselves from being responsible and accountable because,'s about Honest and Real.