Thursday, May 16, 2013

Should Your Copy Forgo Good Grammar?

Bad grammar in an ad's headline caught my eye recently. (The ad comes from a company that rents furniture to tradeshow exhibitors.)


What could the copywriter have been thinking?
  • The combination of "Your vision" and "Our furnishings" gets you noticed;
  • The two antecedent nouns (one of which itself is plural) don't require use of a plural pronoun; or
  • "It gets you noticed" sounds livelier than "They get you noticed."
Should your copy forgo good grammar? The answer's yes if:
  • The rules of grammar weaken your argument, and
  • You're certain your audience doesn't prize learning.
I'd bet the copywriter thought "It gets you noticed" packed punch, and the rental company knows its customers don't care whether a pronoun disagrees with its antecedents.

Ad man David Ogilvy said, "I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think."
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