I was at a popular department store last night picking up a few odds and ends when a holiday advertisement caught my eye. It read: “More Trendy. Less Spendy.”
My first reaction, as a grammarian, was to cringe.
More trendy? An abomination! It should say trendier! And spendy? That’s not even a word!
It took a while for my boiling blood to cool, but when it did, I was able to see things in a new light. I reminded myself that copywriting isn’t simply about knowing and applying all the rules of grammar. It’s also about knowing how and when to break those rules. Not arbitrarily, but strategically.
Don’t think for a second that the copywriter behind that department store’s advertisement really confused the comparative form of “trendy” for “more trendy.” Or that s/he really thought “spendy” is a synonym for “expensive.”
No, the copywriter knew precisely what s/he was doing when writing that slogan. After all, the store’s brand is very spunky and down-to-earth; keeping the advertisement pithy and punchy and not better-than-thou was right in line with the company’s image. It was a catchy, memorable blurb that told consumers exactly what they wanted to hear: that they were getting caviar fashion on a tuna fish budget. And in no more than four “words.”
So, while my inner wordsmith nearly suffered a heart attack last night, the creative copywriter in me—the one who understands that rules are sometimes meant to be broken—was empathetic. After all, in advertising, you do what you gotta do!
My only hope is that children learning to read and write don’t go around saying their clothes are “more trendy” and “less spendy” than those of their peers. Oh, the horror! 🙂