Always remember, kiddies: the object of advertising is to attract attention. If you leave logic or language in the lurch, too bad. And if you can devise a strategy for turning complaints into another selling point, so much the better.
For 15 months, or until it replaced one ad campaign with another on July 4, the Wendy's hamburger chain managed to do all of the above with a slogan.
Several readers have written or called me to complain about it, among them Marilyn Braithwaite of Northeast, Marilyn Rosenschein of Vienna and Mary Margaret Appleton of Hyattsville.
The slogan was: "Ain't no reason to go anyplace else."
Only one thing makes English teachers cringe more than the use of "ain't." That's the use of double negatives, like "ain't no."
If we were in a mood to count our blessings, I suppose we could point out that Wendy's managed to avoid saying "no place" rather than "anyplace." But the consolation is small, indeed.
Were there complaints? "Sure," said Brian Padberg, vice president for corporate communications at Wendy's. "We received thousands of comment cards and packets from schools. A lot of the letters said, 'Gosh, that's improper grammar. Don't you know that?' "
Of course, said Padberg. "We also know that millions and millions of people in public speaking use it. The intent was clearly to get attention and clearly it did that."
How did Wendy's reply to the bleats about improper usage? It acknowledged them, and went right on flipping burgers, Padberg said.
He emphasized that the decision to drop the "Ain't no" campaign on July 4 was unrelated to the complaints. He also insisted that the company got just as many hurrahs for the campaign as boos.
Here's the clincher: Padberg says that, in many cases, when classes would write in to complain, inspired by a persnickety English teacher, he would reply by encouraging the teacher to "use this as a teaching tool. Have the kids submit alternate proposals to it."
Such an idea can be breathtaking, can't it? Almost as breathtaking as the ad campaign itself. Good thing it's over. You might say we deserved a break today.