Written by Eric Rasmussen on June 25, 2013.
I am beginning to believe there was an undocumented but watershed turning point in the history of American marketing. A point in which all of the advertising and marketing overlords convened and launched a secret war on punctuation.
I imagine the overlords, seated in too-high chairs around a too-round table, engaged in a discussion similar to this one:
“Our copy writers keep bogging down slogans with funny symbols!”
“Or they take out the symbols I use randomly for emphasis!”
“We must gain control of these symbols at once. We need to take the power out of the writ’er’s’ hand’s. But how?”
“Ladies and gentlemen, our course is clear: if we begin confusing the next generation of customers now, one day no one will even know how to use an apostrophe.”
And so it went. Now we have book’s on sale, you can relax your at a hair salon, you can eat spaghetti?, and you can even brave extreme!! foods.
For the most part it’s easy to follow the intent of these misguided ads and product names, although relax your a–* required a double take.
When it comes to apostrophes, I think it’s clear the marketing overlords of generations past have won. You may now freely sprinkle or omit apostrophes as you see fit as long as you think it highlights or emphasizes your message in some way. I’ve even seen strawberrie’s for sale. Go on, give it a try. Why not. No one will even notice.
But I am pleased to say that there is one front on which they are losing ground: double quotes.
Perhaps in part thanks to this guy:
I am fairly certain the large marketing firms have caught on by now: our culture associates unnecessary double quotes with irony. For once, I’m not the first person to question the local real estate “expert” or the “market fresh” chicken.
Nevertheless, I fear the efforts to abuse punctuation will continue. Do not let this small victory sway you, fellow pedants. Stay vigilant!
*From a sign that should have read: “relax, you’re at Business Name.”