Ancillary or Collateral Materials


As a writer, I am very interested in the precise communication of words.  I try to choose them as carefully as I can in a story, or blog post. So, today I am uncomfortable in the words that describe marketing materials.  In my freelance business writing, these materials are often called “collaterals.”  In book publishing they are called “ancillary materials.”

Now, the dictionary defines “collateral” in the sense of marketing as “accompanying or existing in a subordinate, corroborative, or indirect relationship.”  Hmm. Not very flattering for all the hard work that goes into brochures, ads, fact sheets, and other promotional items.

“Ancillary” for book publishers has a similar definition: “1. Subordinate: often with to or 2. that serves as an aid; auxiliary.”

Neither word precisely hits the target in describing what I have done for a living for several years.  And, to be honest, I don’t like to think of my work as “subordinate” or somehow not very important.

I read in the book, “Get Thee To A Punnery” that puns are the lowest form of humor, but author Richard Lederer turned that around to say that puns are the foundation of humor.  Without them, much of what makes us laugh would disappear.

I guess I’m looking for the word that would elevate promotional writing to something more than a subordinate, for without sales literature and marketing materials, much of the good products out there would be just colas, instead of “the real thing,” trucks would be vehicles instead of “Ford Tough” and corn flakes would never be “Grrrrreat!”

I think we who are in marketing and advertising should come up with a word that describes our products in more precise and positive terms.  Perhaps something like “mextras” – more than extras, or “interjectories” – adding the spice and exclamation to your story.

As you might have guessed by now, part of my writing assignment for this week is to write the “ancillary materials” for Faith On The Rocks.  I have to write cover copy, catalog copy, back cover copy and an author’s biography.  These are not “subordinate” in any way to the meat of the product.  They are the delightful appetizers, side dishes, and deserts.  The story meal would be incomplete without them.  They are indeed interjectories, and I think I’ll go work on them now.

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