Is 'gooder' good enough?

Written by Katie May

My co-worker Amy Beth directed me toward this joke:

Copy editor: “Knock-knock.”

Assistant editor: “Who’s there?”

Copy editor: “To.”

Assistant editor: “To who?”

Copy editor: “To whom!”

That’s the best knock-knock joke I’ve heard since the one about the interrupting cow. It made me laugh and groan at the same time.

Why the groaning? As a proud nitpicker, I care about proper usage and believe that it matters.

On the other hand, it’s easy to take nitpicking too far. When I told my family and friends about starting this blog, many of them revealed that they compulsively edit messages before sending e-mail to me. I’m not that bad! I mean, sure; I notice. But I don’t hold e-mail mistakes against anyone. E-mail is all about speed, and most people take a relaxed approach to the rules of spelling, capitalization and punctuation when they write and read e-mail messages.

However, you don’t have to be a nitpicker to question whether a nationwide advertising campaign is the best place to ignore those rules. In fact, I believe that the makers of Gain detergent violated all kinds of rules—including the dictates of common sense—when they approved the “Gooder” campaign.

You may have heard by now about the kerfuffle the detergent maker created this year with its “Gooder” ad. If you missed seeing the ad on television, watch it below:

Undeterred by the Internet flap decrying the use of the nonword “gooder,” Gain executives apparently decided to put their faith in the old adage “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Their one concession seems to have been adding an inexplicable apostrophe, so the nonword now reads “good’er” on Gain’s website and in its print marketing material. Some improvement!

Those who want to share their opinion of “good’er” with Gain can visit the company’s website and click on the Contact us link at the bottom of the home page. They will be redirected to a new screen that declares “We wanna hear from you.” If it wasn’t apparent before, that “wanna” makes clear that Gain is not aiming at the nitpicker demographic.

Still, the “good’er” campaign begs the question: Where do you draw the line between good clean fun and bad grammar? What’s the line between cool and confusing, between hip and hard to understand? If you think Gain crossed that line, you’re not alone. Consider the condemnations below, pulled from the many positive and negative comments posted on Gain’s “good’er” website:

  • “I love Gain, I really do. But, I have to ask you to please remove the ‘Gooder’ wording from your marketing! It absolutely makes me CRINGE!!! As a mother of 4 young boys, I want to teach them correct English. This is appalling, to say the least. I just can’t support it. If not removed or changed, I will definitely be buying another brand. I just can’t support such bad taste.”
  • “Hearing a grown man say ‘gooder’ on a commercial that is broadcast across the nation makes me cringe. It’s embarrassing. Think of how it makes your company look! It definitely takes away from your credibility and makes you look extremely uneducated. This has a HUGE impact on my desire to ever purchase any Gain products. A negative impact.”

I hate to say it, but I think Gain really could have done, err, good’er than that. Time will tell, but I’m guessing this ad campaign will end up leaving a lasting stain on the detergent maker’s reputation.



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One response to “Is 'gooder' good enough?

  1. peggyanj@gmail.com

    Grammar patrol: “gooder” took me to the next level. I have enough trouble when pronunciation is changed by current usage rather than the REAL original way. The word grating my ears currently is “apricot” (Garnier). The correct way is as in “apron” not as “apple”! Please note single vs. double consonant. I, too, was a student of Laudner and one of her students wrote the books, “There’s No Cow in Moscow” -top 30 mispronounced words in America and “There’s No Zoo in Zoology” the next list.
    Another non-word constantly heard is ” hosting”. Check it out.

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