Oh my! Punctuation does matter.

May 11, 2012 | Author:

I saw a TV commercial this morning for Lord & Taylor. I was so struck by the campaign line, “OH MY LORD & TAYLOR”, I couldn’t decide which angle to take for this blog. I did a little research and found a few Web links referring to the campaign, showing behind-the-scenes filming of the campaign, etc. If I hadn’t HEARD the TV spot, the entire thing would have passed by without notice and I would not be writing about it now.

But in the TV spot, unlike the references I’ve seen online where there is no punctuation, a critical pause was inserted into the narration. And instead of ending the spot with “Oh my, Lord and Taylor”, the woman breathlessly exclaimed “Oh my Lord, and Taylor.” Wow. by moving the comma back by just one word, they entirely changed the meaning and the brand. With one pause, they changed the campaign, invoked the Son of God and messed with the company brand. The Lord & Taylor name is so well known, they won’t be harmed by the interpretation, but I would love to know how this decision was made. Did they agonize over it in the boardroom debating the merits and dangers of this interpretation of the phrase, or did the art director just like the way it sounded while editing, without giving full consideration to what he was doing?

Maybe it’s just me, I am a brand geek after all.