I was puzzled this morning by a growing – no, make that “snowballing” – torrent of posts on Twitter carrying the hashtag “#iamspartacus“. I’m not normally one to be slow on the uptake with this sort of thing, but it really puzzled me for a while until I found a helpful Urban Dictionary definition:
“Refers to a scene in the movie “Spartacus”… After the army of former Roman slaves led by Spartacus is defeated in battle by legions of the Roman army, a Roman general stands before the captured surviving members of the slave army and demands that they turn over Spartacus, or else all of the former slaves will be executed. Upon hearing this and not wanting his friends to be executed, Spartacus stands up and says “I am Spartacus.” However, the loyalty of his friends is so great that each of them stands forward in succession, shouting “I am Spartacus!” until the shouts dissolve into a cacophony of thousands of former slaves each insisting “I am Spartacus!”…Thus the phrase “I am Spartacus!” is often used to humorously start a chorus of responses of “No, I am Spartacus” among a group.”
The uprising on Twitter seems to be as a result of the news, yesterday, that a man who posted a Twitter message threatening to blow up Robin Hood airport is facing a £3,000 bill after losing an appeal against his conviction. The Twitterati have mobilised and are creating a cacaphony of noise by way of a peaceful, but mischevious protest. (In the movie, of course, the Roman general gets the last laugh and has them all crucified just to shut them up, but you get the point.)
The moral of all this from a voiceover point of view (you knew we’d get there eventually, right?) is that if everyone’s shouting at once, no one can hear your message. Or, taken as a more abstract concept: if anyone’s going to notice what you have to say, then you need to do something to make it stand out from the noise.
So, next time you’re selling something and your copy seems great because it sounds just like the stuff you hear on the radio or TV every day, perhaps it might be time to rethink your approach before you sign off and give it to your voice talent. We’re miracle workers by trade – but even we’re not Spartacus.