In my latest Visual Thesaurus column, published today, I continue flaying “lay”—as in “Lay Flat Collar T-Shirts” from Hanes. You may recall that I launched this rant last week here on Fritinancy; in today’s column, I provide some historical examples of grammar-flouting ads. The full column is available to subscribers only (so subscribe already!); here’s an excerpt:
For examples of real outrage over grammar-defying slogans ... we need to go back to the Mad Men era. In 1954, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company introduced the Winston brand with the slogan "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should," setting off a cultural skirmish, if not an actual war. Like, not as? Horrors! The poet Ogden Nash published a verse in The New Yorker that included the line "Like goes Madison Avenue, like goes the nation." Walter Cronkite, then the anchor of The Morning Show on CBS, took a principled stand, refusing to read such illiteracy on the air. An announcer filled in for him. (This was in the days when broadcast journalists routinely read ads as well as news, so Cronkite's principles were not exactly unsullied.)
Naturally, the uproar only increased public awareness of the new brand. Within months, according to Malcolm Gladwell's account in The Tipping Point, Winston vaulted to second place in the American market; by 1966—still using the "like a cigarette should" slogan—it had become the country's bestselling brand. Before retiring the slogan in 1972, Winston ran ads whose copy defiantly asked, "What do you want, good grammar or good taste?" The final nail in the coffin, so to speak, had come in 1961, when Merriam-Webster accepted "like" as a conjunction in its Third International Dictionary—and used the Winston slogan as an example. (For this and other sins, the New York Times called the dictionary "bolshevik.")
Read the full column here.