Can you tell me what's wrong with it? Click to enlarge, if it shows up too small. Got it yet? No?
This poster, a government ad for the Province of Ontario, undoubtedly went through about 20 client revisions and was in front of maybe 50 pairs of eyes, on agency and client sides, before it was printed and distributed.
And in all that time, apparently not one person stopped to point out that the reader cannot possibly be "21 and under". Not unless they suffer from Henry DeTamble's time travelling disorder. He or she can be under 21. Or 21. Or even "21 or under". But you can't be both at the same time.
Does this make me sound like a grammar nazi? It shouldn't. If you read this blog, you know that I'm not a formal writer. I like a conversational style. But I still follow a few sensible and conventional guidelines because I don't want people to think I'm illiterate.
And I don't want to be one of these old farts who says texting has destroyed people's spelling abilities. It's just a different register, and shouldn't degrade overall skills. To claim otherwise would be like saying people taking notes in shorthand or point form are destroying the English language.
I also believe that our language is evolving. If it didn't, my blog would look like this:
No, I can accept change. Hell, I even try to accelerate it. (Shouldn't "highschool" be one word by now? I think so.) But if you want me to take you seriously in an e-mail or any other written communication, you have to show organized thought and you have to give two shits about not making stupid mistakes.
A couple of years ago, I was trying to hire a Junior Copywriter. I asked that each candidate write a custom cover letter in the body of an e-mail and attach their CV. It made filtering through 100 or so applications much easier:
- Form cover letter? DELETE
- Cover letter attached only? DELETE
- Misspelled my, or the agency's, name? DELETE
- Really bad typo? DELETE
And shame on the profs who let them get away with this crap.
You want to be a writer? Learn how to write. Because apparently fewer and fewer people in the ad industry know how to.
BTW, I had to write this quickly, so you may well get the chance to point out a few errors of my own.