The Case for Bad Grammar

REGROUP "G" fresh
May 15, 2018
May 15, 2018

Yep, I believe good advertising doesn’t require proper grammar. In fact, many in the industry would agree.

As a consumer and writer, I’ll take great emotional resonance over grammatical precision any day. Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but they can certainly find themselves at odds in writing — especially in advertising. Occasionally, crafting good, meaningful creative messages might just require grammatical deviation.

Creative writers are notorious for breaking the rules. Maybe a character requires a tone or certain mannerisms, or perhaps it’s just the writer’s style. I mean, some writers like Cormac McCarthy just completely and regularly ignore conventions (he doesn’t even use quotation marks). And when it comes to copywriters and grammatical errors, well, they’re pretty darn guilty. But that doesn’t mean they made any mistakes.

Think of some significant advertisements. Ones that are quick and snappy. Subway’s “Eat Fresh,” maybe? Apple’s “Think Different”? Did you ever look at those and think, Wow, that’s bad grammar? It should be “Eat Fresh Food” or “Think Differently.” Of course not. Slogans like those two-word examples are incredibly powerful and sublime. Yet, they’re technically wrong.

Did me choosing to write fragmented sentences or start off with conjunctions bother you? Probably not.

Obviously I’m not saying the English language and its rules should be completely disregarded. When you’re writing extended copy, or ads for industries such as healthcare, being well versed in proper grammar is pretty essential. But prioritizing technicalities can often create barriers between you and whomever you’re trying to reach, making your message inaccessible or plain dry. In intentionally bending and breaking the rules, you might just end up with something bolder and more gripping. Something that sounds more natural and approachable than its formal counterpart.

Keep it simple, stupid, and kill your grammatically correct darlings off from time-to-time. Good grammar doesn’t always make powerful writing.