I've been fighting a very strong and resilient flu bug, but am now, as my mother used to say, "able to sit up and take slight nourishment." Don't forget your flu shots, folks.
So I'm back, and this morning came across a full-page ad in a national women's magazine. It was an attractive piece for a skin care "system." (We don't have products anymore; we have systems and solutions.) The ad was overwritten, flowery, full of rhetorical questions--standard stuff for skin care puffery--and bad advertising for all those reasons. However, what first caught my eye was a big, fat mistake in one line: " Then harnessed its' power in a line of of skin care products ... ."
Here comes a bold, authoritative statement. There is no such word as its'.
There is a word it's, which means it is or it has, as in, "It's been a long time since I've been to Paris," or, "It's odd she hasn't called."
There's also a word its, which is the possessive of it, as in, "The alligator opened its eyes," or, "The product's advantage is its rounded edges."
But to use the possessive and then add an apostrophe to make that possessive possessive is, to say the least, overkill. In this case, its power would have been more powerful without the extra punctuation.
On reading further, I came to the next silliness: "After using these products for 28-days ... ." There's no need for a hyphen. Just 28 days. Later in the ad, the copywriters used the hyphen correctly when they spoke of a 28-day period. In that case, 28-day is being used to modify period and calls for a hyphen. But in the fine print of the guarantee, they went back to, "... you'll see a difference in 28-days," so obviously, they don't know there's a distinction.
What's sad about this is that the client put his or her trust in a copywriter who didn't have the skills to write a basic, error-free ad. And no one on the client side knew any better, either, because someone from the company had to approve this substandard offering for display in national media.
Which tells us something about the state of English education in the United States. I can hardly wait to see the advertising in the year 2020. I think it's possible it will be even less coherent than today's--and that doesn't bode well for product sales in the future. Too bad.
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