I’M ONLY A PUNTER BUT

What is the country coming to? Once, government bodies were comprised of august bowler-hatted fellows who knew how to pronounce ’controversy’ and ’harassment’. They wouldn’t split an infinitive, let alone leave a hanging participle.

What is the country coming to? Once, government bodies were

comprised of august bowler-hatted fellows who knew how to pronounce

’controversy’ and ’harassment’. They wouldn’t split an infinitive, let

alone leave a hanging participle.



Yet now the Central Office of Information sanctions - indeed commissions

- ads in which a copywriter can write this voiceover: ’If you were

persuaded to opt out of a company pension, you may have been overcharged

by as much as pounds 4,000 or more.’



I’m sorry? ’As much as ... or more’? Perhaps they should have said: ’As

little as pounds 6,000 or less.’



Things lurch from crap to bollocks as the ad goes on to say: ’Mis-sold a

pension?’ Any native speaker scoring more than four on the Glasgow Coma

Scale would expect a threat to follow a question, in which the verb

’mis-sold’ is used actively: ’Mis-sold a pension? You’ll be forced to

stop wearing your silly braces you incompetent little embezzler.’



But no. In a rampage of aphasia, the tag is: ’They owe you.’



I don’t want to have to explain the difference between an active and a

passive verb, but need I point out that it should say: ’Been mis-sold a

pension? They owe you.’



This pathetic script is barely written in English. So what is it?

Advertising as a foreign language? But the copywriter, his or her

superiors and the clients all gave it the OK. At no point did any of

these dozens of highly-paid professionals notice that the script didn’t

make sense.



Ads which aren’t entirely true are one thing - encouraging consumers to

squander money on ’wide-screen’, ’settees’ and ’digital’ is a good

thing: it is inflationary and therefore drives up the interest rate on

our Egg accounts. But, please, don’t let’s produce ads which literally

mean the opposite of what they say. That damages our language and is

likely to bring about a scenario where any statement can be both true

and untrue simultaneously - and I can’t imagine why the advertising

industry might want to do that.



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).