People keep criticising my style of writing.
Telling me I should be writing in paragraphs, instead of short para-spaced sentences.
Don’t I know that’s incorrect?
Personally I can’t see this obsession with being right?
With obeying the rules.
Don’t these people work in advertising?
Don’t they know the purpose of rules is to make everyone the same?
Which is exactly the opposite of advertising?
In 1954 there was a controversy about grammar in the US.
R J Reynolds was launching a new brand of cigarette.
They agency presented the line “Winston Tastes Good Like A Cigarette Should”
The client had a problem with the grammar.
It should read “Winston tastes good as a cigarette should”
The agency explained, it might be correct grammar but it wasn’t the way people spoke.
It sounded more formal and awkward, not as catchy.
And if the advertising didn’t catch on, the launch would fail.
So the client reluctantly accepted it.
But Walter Cronkite didn’t.
He had the most influential TV show in the US.
He was so outraged he refused to even say the line on the air.
The poet Ogden Nash even wrote a piece for The New Yorker about Winston’s poor grammar.
But Webster’s Dictionary accepted the use of the word ‘like’ as a preposition.
So The New York Times labelled Webster’s Dictionary as ‘Bolshevik’.
What a controversy.
You can’t buy publicity like that.
The more it gets noticed the more it gets talked about.
The more it gets talked about the more it gets noticed.
Winston became the biggest selling brand in the USA, thanks to the use of bad grammar.
One of the most profitable sectors for canned goods in the UK was baked beans.
Heinz wanted to take ownership of it.
The agency presented ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ to the client.
Now grammatically they should have presented ‘Beans mean Heinz’.
Can anyone spot why they didn’t do that?
Well spotted, it’s ordinary, dull and boring.
That incorrect line worked so well for Heinz that they soon owned the baked bean market.
As they do today.
More recently Federal Express built a company using bad grammar.
“When It Absolutely, Positively Has To be There Overnight”
Why didn’t they write the line correctly do you suppose?
“When it has to be there overnight”
The reason they didn’t, is it would have been dull.
They wanted an emphasis on reliability that would stick in the consumer’s mind.
And correct grammar won’t do that.
When Federal Express started, UPS owned the market.
Now ‘Fedex it’ has become the generic term for the entire market.
Ask them if they’re worried that their name is being incorrectly used as a verb.
Or how about the line for attracting tourists to New York City?
“I (heart-shape) NY”
Didn’t they know that was bad grammar?
Why ‘heart-shape’ isn’t even a word, it’s a graphic symbol.
Luckily they didn’t listen to the grammar police.
They were smart enough to use a mnemonic.
“A device designed to make an idea stick in the mind.”
Their device is the envy of every city in the world.
And how about Steve Jobs.
He ran an ad campaign for Apple featuring the strap line “Think Different”.
That was grammatically incorrect.
Experts claim it should have read “Think differently”.
Steve Jobs loved the fact that it upset people.
Because the people it upset were exactly the ones he wanted to upset.
Mac-users see themselves as the antithesis of pedants.
They see themselves as free-thinkers.
By being outraged those people were doing Steve Jobs’s advertising for him.
As Paul Arden said “It’s right to be wrong”.