Art Directors & lazy Copywriters beware. This is a grammar post. Account planners, you can consider this a topic for future focus groups.
As a Copywriter, I love that I can play fast and loose with grammar. Periods, em dashes, semicolons, and ellipses —colloquially known as dot-dot-dots— get thrown around with intentional, almost reckless, disregard for how much our Honors English Teacher would approve. Or disapprove.
Which, of course, is the reason that Mark Edwards and I ended up in a friendly discussion (i.e. loud argument) regarding the use of “they.” As a progressive nonprofit worker living in a very progressive city —San Francisco— and a freaking art student, it’s common place for me to use a genderless pronoun when referring to people. “He” and “she” often times become “they.” A copywriter should always be aware of their audience. Mark disagrees. And is right (arguably).
Technically, Copywriters should always be aware of their audience. They is plural.
But what is a copywriter to do when faced with the need for a singular gender-neutral pronoun? Default to the technically correct but pseudo patriarchal he? And piss off feminists, LGBT activists, and Freedom Fighters for Uni-sex Bathrooms? No, gender non-specific sir.
My (unqualified & unrequested) advice:
- Know your audience.
- Speak their language.
- Even if it’s grammatically incorrect.
- Learn the rules so you can break’em.
Oh and your teacher, boss, and partner are always right.
Even if they is wrong.
It’s a fresh new year (academically). We have fresh new (to us) digs. New fresh faces. And (hopefully) fresh new talent.
While the elevator at 410 Bush may have an old soul (I swear there is a ghost that keeps those doors from closing properly the first time), now is the perfect time to make new friends. As our esteemed Copywriting Director, Mark Edwards, put it this morning – 410 Bush puts our talents within walking distance to some major advertising agencies: Goodby, Venables, Ogilvy One, 215Mccan, and so many others.
What does this mean for us? Even more of an excuse to pull a “Don Draper” and hit up some bars. I mean “network with potential employers.”
No one will probably take this advice, but smart ladder climbers should cruise the “About Us” sections of their favorite SF agencies. You never know, that dude who just rudely cut in front of you at the coffee shop might just be Jeff Goodby or Rich Silverstein. Instead of slipping him the finger, slip him your book.
Suggested (Only minorly awkward) Opening Lines:
- “Got Milk?”
- “Nice Ponytail” http://twitpic.com/5nvrob
- “Don’t you work at Wieden & Kennedy?”