Saturday, October 30, 2010

AT&T's lack of shame

I'm known relatively far and wide for being a grammar snob; am I crazy to keep up this vendetta? Should I just lighten up?

Happened to have the World Series game three on TV tonight and in passing noticed that the in-game AT&T World Series Trivia infographic read, from what i can remember, pretty much as follows:

"What was the last year in which the American League team won it's first home game of the World Series?"

AT&T is a major company with presumably a large marketing staff. Nobody along the chain, from the junior staff who researched and wrote it to the marketing manager who approved it to the tech guy that programmed it as an on-screen graphic, noticed or cared that they should have used "its" instead of "it's"?

You might say, "I'll bet you none of the viewers who read that sentence noticed or cared either", and I'd say that's part of the problem too.

Proper grammar and word usage, on their own, aren't really a significant issue; what's more important is that "it's" instead of "its" captures a downward trend in the state of professionalism. At one point in time, corporations' marketing arms were judged on both the effectiveness and the polish of their messages; if that goes, what can the rest of society and culture do but start sliding away as well?

Maybe "it's" and "its" don't bug you that much; how about if the trivia read "During the last half of the Rangers' season, how many of they're games went to extra innings?". Where's the tipping point? Do you think anyone in the AT&T brass saw to it that someone was fired or at least verbally ripped up for the written gaffe that millions of baseball fans saw splashed alongside the AT&T logo?

The muddled but sporadically depressing and brilliant movie Idiocracy has several scenes of a radically dumbed-down future in which slack-jawed people endlessly gape at mindless TV dreck and communicate basically in monosyllabic grunts. There are a couple of steps between a few proofreading errors and that reality, of course, but it does all start somewhere..

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