Is it just us or has there been an increase in grammatical misuse in tag lines, advertisements, and TV commercials lately? As many of you know, we have been feuding with Hanes for a few years over their “lay-flat” collar ads – to no avail.
A while back, we wrote a post called “Breaking with the past …” in which we explored some rules for and exceptions to forming the past tense, especially with the “… ink” words.
Last night, we saw a TV commercial … for SLIMQUICK™ … that riled us up again.
Here’s the quote from the not-so-slim cartoon woman on the TV ad … she says to/about her slimming male counterpart:
“We’re trying to lose weight, so we cut out junk food. I shrunk one size. He shrunk six sizes.”
Goodness! This is slim (actually, grim) grammar. Come on, the past tense of shrink is shrank…
Just to make sure we heard correctly, we replayed the spot several times, in disbelief. Why are we always so shocked at advertising grammar goofs? (click here to see another example) After all, an advertising great (copywriter for such brands as Hanes, Walmart, Discover, and eTrade) once wrote to us, and we quote, “… honestly, grammar doesn’t mean much in advertising.” Still, it ruffles our feathers when we hear companies allow such blatant English language slaughter on the TV airwaves (and cable). Maybe our consolation must be that if there are not these gaffes, we wouldn’t have much to blog about?
Recently, we called out an error in a TV ad and online catalog for Hanes t-shirts. The mistake we pointed out is “… a collar that lays flat…” in the voice over, and “Lay Flat Collar” in the product description.
We fired off an email to the copywriter (at the ad agency) who wrote the spot for Hanes. We thought you might like to be privy to the response we received from the ad’s author:
“I appreciate the catch. But I have to say that we knew what we were doing when we sent it out the door. The product had already been named. And, honestly, grammar doesn’t mean much in advertising. What sounds better is more important. And the ‘Lie-Flat Collar’ doesn’t sound too hot.”
Now, this is too bad. Even though we have mentioned the incorrect use of lay in our Lost causes? post, it doesn’t mean we’re going to let the subject lie.
We disagree that grammar doesn’t mean much in advertising. We have more faith in consumers than to expect them to tolerate poor grammar. And, while we do agree that what sounds better is important … for all of our fans who think good grammar is “hot,” we disagree with the statement that “… the ‘Lie-Flat Collar’ doesn’t sound too hot.”
We think it’s a shame that there are those who promote poor grammar and perpetuate the nerve-grating sounds of these language rules broken, especially in advertising to a public audience.
Gentlemen prefer good grammar. The lady prefers good grammar. Look who we’ve got our grammar on now!
You may choose to “Go Tagless” … we just hope you won’t continue to “Go Grammarless.”
We were shocked when we heard the announcer on the Hanes TV commercial say (when referring to their men’s t-shirts):
“… a collar that lays flat … that’s the comfort fit promise.”
Then, we checked the Hanes Web site, and sure enough, the error lies right there in plain sight:
Hanes Classics Men’s ComfortSoft® TAGLESS® Crewneck – Lay Flat Collar!
(click on image for a larger view)
So, we probably should not have been so shocked. After all, we did discuss “lay vs. lie” in our Lost causes? and Lie like a rug … posts a while back, however, we cannot just let it lie. And, it seems that the English language, at least the American usage of it, is evolving to include such deviations from what has long been considered proper. Ouch!
We’ll just say that this continues to lie on our list of pet peeves, and we remain hopeful that advertisers will lay off the mistakes and come to their grammar senses.
We’ll lead the charge by laying down the grammar law, arresting and citing the copywriters and sending them to word court.