These “ordinary” words, rightly arranged,

create magic and have brought Luntz a million $ & more…


   Here are 11 (of 21) words with a

comment or two about each.


But for that you need the DOOR.





   This completes the list begun at the previous post¹.


   (11)  “Investment”   (According to Frank Luntz) President Clinton came up with one of the most important linguistic innovations of the 1990s when he began to use the term “investment” instead of “spending.” Spending suggests waste. Investment suggests the responsible handling of resources. A dollar “spent” is a dollar you’ll never see again. A dollar invested is a dollar that comes back to you many times over. Spending is morally neutral–it could be good or bad, responsible or wasteful. (Luntz says a lot more about this as well as about the 10 words that follow. We offer more here to underline results from Luntz’s extensive polling research.)

   (12)  “Casual Elegance”  This is the expression that best defines what Americans want when they travel, more than any other single attribute. The U.S. in the 21st century is a casual country–in attitudes, clothing, and lifestyle. We address each other by first names. We like our pleasures simple. This appeals to our imaginations, our idealized best selves.

   (13)  “Independent”   This term is more of a communication effort than a product pitch. It means having no ties, no conflicts of interest, nothing to hide. Americans want unique experiences, their lives to be tailored to them. “Independent insurance agents” tests better than any individual insurance company.

   (14)  “Peace of Mind”  T”Certification his word package will eventually supplant “security” as a primary political value. It’s a kinder, gentler, softer expression of “security” that is less politicized, more embracing and all-encompassing.

   (15)  “Certified”  This has entered treasured lexicon because “trust” and “confidence in people and promises” is less effective. It’s not just used-car salesmen that we don’t believe anymore.  Certification involves a guarantee that what you see is what you get, and that it uphold a higher level or quality or reliability. It implies that a specific process was followed by a trained professional.

   (16)  “All-American”   Though the term is not universally appreciated, those who share the appeal to American pride and patriotism are absolutely affected by it. Works well with older consumers. Remember that America is perceived a place of progress and innovation.

   (17)   “Prosperity”  In just 10 letters “prosperity” encompasses the idea of more jobs, more take-home pay, a stronger economy, and expanded opportunity. It also implies promoting the good life earned the old-fashioned way–through hard work.

   (18)  “Spirituality”   The U. S. remains one of the most religious nations on Earth. Unlike post-Christian Europe, unlike the mostly secular remainder of the Western world [emphasizes Luntz], religious faith still has relevance to an overwhelming majority of Americans². If you’re an American politician, being religious is not something to run away from. Americans reward politicians who talk respectfully but candidly about their core beliefs.

   (19)  “Financial Security”   “Financial freedom” has dropped from its former place to the middle of Luntz’s priority list. A number of hard knocks at the beginning of the century caused this tumble. Sadly, financial freedom for most has dropped out of reach, but some form of financial security is still attainable.

   (20)  “A Balanced Approach”   For one who professes independence from partisanship and ideology, and appear to practice this philosophy, arguing for “a balanced approach” to our nation’s problems will have credibility. People understand that America has multiple, competing priorities.

   (21)  “A Culture of…”   A term increasingly used that has the unfortunate potential to do the most damage and be the most decisive in the early years of the 21st century. The world “culture” used to apply to entire societies, even empires. More and more now, however, it has come to be used in a micro sense, do describe every imaginable subculture (and lend to it a dignity of culture as a whole). We have a culture of hate, a culture of paintball, a culture of corruption, a culture of East Los Angeles, etc. By defining an issue or a cluster of issues as part of a metaphorical “culture,” you lend it new weight and seriousness.

   These are the 21 words, or word phrases that, according to Frank Luntz, are the most powerful currently available that if used properly can influence Americans to vote or to buy. We realize that these brief comments–many that lean heavily upon the exact wording of the text may raise questions that more text would clarify.

   But our dozen seconds is up…


   ¹ Our source for this and the previous post is Frank Luntz’s best-selling book, Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear (MFJ Books, 2007). Note that these book is seven years old, though still relevant we feel. Let me emphasize that throughout this list we have quoted much directly as well as summarized Luntz’s arguments that are developed in 23 pages of text.

   ² The issue of “spirituality” has, perhaps, considerably changed since this book was written.