Copywriter wanted: must understand basic grammar

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

Take a look at this miserable excuse for an advertisement. (The word in the middle is ‘shirt’, not ‘shit’).

Why am I so down on it? Forget the layout that means the key word is lost in the fold, forget the weak weedy typography, forget the far-too-subtle joke, or the fact that the washing machine appears to be unplugged and in the living room. Take a look at the headline.

Spot the mistake?

It’s ‘fewer creases’, not ‘less’! It’s wrong, no matter what you might say about “well everyone says ‘less’ these days”. I don’t care. It’s inexcusable. It’s up there with apostrophes in the wrong place, ellipses with two dots or more than three, ‘I’ instead of ‘me’.

(Marks & Spencer, the leading high street retailer in the UK, changed their checkout signs from ‘Five items or less’ to ‘Five items or fewer’, I’m told because of a customer complaint. Sadly no other store seems to have followed suit).

If I were Ariel or Hotpoint I’d be having serious words with my ad agency…

But it’s not as bad as this example of piss-poor proofing. The cheese company Leerdammer recently launched a new brand extension complete with inappropriate apostrophe. I first noticed this over a year ago and they’re still doing it!
I mean, I might expect it of a greengrocer, but not an international food company:

Unbelievable. Who approves this crap?

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