Home > Uncategorized > Yes, I’m a pedant…but it’s my job

Yes, I’m a pedant…but it’s my job

I know that my compulsion to correct mistakes in other people’s spelling or grammar can irritate. I am pretty unapologetic about it though, because: a) it’s in my nature; and, b) my job requires me to get things right on my clients’ behalf.

The best, most established brands get things right all the time: that’s why I can tell when a seemingly plausible email from Barclays or PayPal is, in fact, a phishing exercise; invariably there will be a grammatical mistake somewhere along the line that would not appear in an authentic mail.

If brands are sloppy in their writing or presentation, I generally assume their product isn’t up to much. The same applies to companies that run cliched, poorly produced or simply dismal advertising. I didn’t need to buy an Amstrad PC to know that it would probably be a cheap piece of crap; the ads did that job for me.  Similarly, I can’t bring myself to buy anything made by Samsung. There’s a cracking example of their patronising and dated work in today’s newspapers…

Professionally, I have never felt worse than when mistakes I have made have been highlighted, either by a client or customer: the letter I received at a previous agency when I had allowed some copy to go out containing the phrase “fine toothcomb” still makes me break out in a cold sweat; as the letter-writer pointed out, you might own a toothbrush or two but it’s pretty difficult to find a comb for your incisors. Similarly, just a few months ago we produced some artwork bearing a glaring typo…fortunately the client saw it before it went to print. A narrow escape…

Anyhow, with that mea culpa in the bag, this made me cringe:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/robertcolvile/100232560/cargiant-another-horseman-of-the-apostro-lypse/

It’s terrible because it’s so glaring, and although inexcusable Cargiant are a small brand. But this email, that appeared in my inbox today, is a different matter:

Screen shot 2013-09-30 at 11.15.27

Sky are (is?) a world-class brand. They have to put their best foot forward against some stiff competition. (Having said that, I always feel reassured that ignoring the copious DM pieces I receive from Virgin Media is justified whenever I see them refer to ‘Premiership’ football. It hasn’t been a ‘Premiership’ for years now and any serious organisation should get these things right.)

I used to write emails for Sky and would have been mortified had this email gone out. Whose (sic) taken their eye off the ball?

I am not embarrassed to admit that I judge brands and people by this kind of error; I might well be a ‘grammar Nazi’ but I think mistakes of this nature are indicative of other failings. Clearly, this attitude (and article) make me a hostage to fortune and I am already anticipating someone reminding me of mistakes I have made (or that have crept into this piece), and that’s fine: do your worst.

Still, if nothing else, Sky have alerted me to another line that might fit neatly on to this t-shirt:

http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2013/09/15/check-out-this-awesome-grammar-t-shirt/

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