Why we need pandas in advertising

We're living in a terrible world where the majority doesn't really care about minor grammar mistakes (minor, in their opinion).

Anant Rangaswami December 20, 2014 03:44:51 IST
Why we need pandas in advertising
If you haven't read Lynn Truss' 'Eats, shoots and leaves', you've missed something. However, just relax, you're in the majority.
The book is subtitled 'The zero tolerance approach to punctuation' -- and we're living in a terrible world where the majority doesn't really care about minor mistakes (minor, in their opinion).Truss used a spectacularly simple illustration to underline the nuances, and the importance, of punctuation. She shared a joke with her readers:
A panda walks into a caf. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.
'Why?' asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
'Well, I'm a panda,' he says, at the door. 'Look it up.'
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. 'Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.'

If the manual had said "Eats shoots and leaves", as is correct, the panda would have eaten some shoots and then left and all would have been well with the world.Well, the panda knew his English, leading to his shooting the unfortunate patrons at the cafe.
In our world, away from this joke, there are too many manual-writers and not enough pandas.
To illustrate the point, I go to the Times of India (9 May, 2011). I look for an ad which makes a hash of grammar and/or punctuation. I find one in about four minutes. Here it is:
Why we need pandas in advertising

Is your child a genius or not?

"Every genius deserves a platform including your child," says the headline.
I won't bore you with what is wrong with it technically, but I will tell you how the headline should read:
"Every genius, including your child, deserves a platform."
What the original headline says is that "every genius deserves a platform and that your child is a part of that platform".
Which is very different from "your child is among the geniuses who deserve a platform".
Many in advertising will dismiss this post, saying grammar is irrelevant. If the guy writing the manual was worried about the correctness of the grammar, the patrons in the cafe wouldn't have been shot at.
The world has more pandas than you imagine. More importantly, it has more cafe patrons than you imagine.Igenius, you say? You're not a genius. You don't even know your grammar.

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