The other day I was having a conversation with a few of my agency peeps about the butchering of the english language in today’s world. When I receive daily correspondence, even in the simplest form of email and text, I judge the sender based on their written word. I am terrified what today’s society, full of acronyms, catch phrases and emoticons will do to my son’s vocabulary. There’s a fine line between casual conversation and formal writing. If you butcher the beautiful english language in either form you mislead, miscommunicate and worst of all, lose respect. The same rules apply in advertising copywriting.
Some believe that advertising has destroyed the dignity of our language. They are appalled when advertising uses incomplete sentences or a sentence starts with a conjunction. Most creatives would argue that advertising must sound conversational, so you can break the rules. However before doing so, you better know the rules and still adhere to the basic rules of grammar and sentence structure. A perfect example is when people talk, they pause when necessary. If you don’t do that in your copy, your point will be lost or misinterpreted. If you’re a lousy writer but have a knack for copy that is creative and sells, you need to be diligent about proofing (do it out loud) or you will sink. Spell check will find typos but it’s as bad at grammar as some copywriters out there:
“For Sale: an antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.”
“”Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too.”
“Wanted: 50 girls for stripping machine operators in factory.”
“Tired of cleaning yourself? Let me do it.”
“Great car deals. Why go elsewhere to be cheated? Come here first!”
“She appreciated the finer things in life: jewelry, furs and vacations. Then one day, she was struck by a Mercedes-Benz.”