Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 17:10:56 -0500
From: frank abate
Subject: Re: RE>Re: Think Different

Message text written by Beverly Flanigan:

>First of all, ad agencies neither influence
usage (goodly or badly) nor do they "break grammar rules" and "get away
with their brazen attempts to cover grammatical errors"--they simply do
what ordinary people in large measure do, and nobody notices but us.<

I don't agree with the first part of this, but the last part is on the
right track.

It is my contention that advertising copy is far MORE influential than it=

has been given credit for. The ubiquity and penetration of some national=

ads -- not only via TV and radio, but also on billboards, in magazines, a=
even in coupons that come with Sunday newspapers -- is often very, very
great. There are many millions of people who are at exposed to some of
these. Much of it may "wash over," but some surely some of this "sticks,=
and must have an effect, whether conscious or not.

I do not mean to say that the ad copywriters are ALWAYS inventing new
things, or breaking new ground (though they do this, too, sometimes). Fo=
the most part, I think the copywriters have their ears to the ground, and=

try to respond to linguistic norms and trends. In other words, they are
most often reactive. But once they choose to use some word, spelling, or=

usage, the effect in terms of increased frequency of the item can be

I believe that one ad may very often be a much greater influence than a
hundred articles in any newspaper or journal, however respected or
well-edited the latter may be. Lexicographers often favor evidence from
edited print publications, but I believe more attention should be paid to=

ad copy, including grocery coupons, whose circulation is often in the
millions. Nowhere near that number look at any newspaper, not to mention=

specialized journals, yet the established sources receive far more play i=
citation files.

Frank Abate