|By Deb Gruver, The Wichita Eagle, Kan.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Nov. 10, 2004 - Raleigh Drennon ain't stupid.
The man behind the tag line for the city's new marketing campaign, "Wichita -- We Got the Goods," Drennon knows the rules of the English language.
But he also knows when to break them.
Vice president and senior writer at the Greteman Group, Drennon realizes some people aren't taking to "We Got the Goods," criticizing it for being grammatically incorrect.
"Oh, great. Now our new Wichita slogan shows that we're grammatically ignorant," said one caller to The Eagle's Opinion Line.
Another reader said "Regarding the new marketing campaign . . . what does Wichita got? I'd rather know what Wichita has."
Drennon said the grammar issue did not go overlooked when Greteman created the marketing campaign for the Greater Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Area leaders weighed the pros and cons of the tag line but decided that "We Got the Goods" had more flair than "We've Got the Goods."
" 'We got the goods' is an expression in the popular culture right now," Drennon said. " 'We've got the goods' sounded stuffy and overly proper."
The campaign is geared toward people within driving distance of Wichita. It focuses on the Wichita area's three major draws: dining, shopping and entertainment.
"In one way, the tag line is very literal," Drennon said. "We do have the goods. We toyed around" with the grammar and decided " 'We Got the Goods' has more energy. It's just sassier."
Drennon said ad campaigns long have bent rules.
"Got milk?" for example, Drennon said, is far catchier than "Do you have any milk?"
And he recalled Apple Computer's "Think Different" campaign a few years ago.
"It's all about impact," Drennon said. "In body copy we use perfect grammar. Advertising should always strive to use proper grammar. But we shouldn't be overly literal about things when our overall goal is to create buzz and attention."
Dean Headley, an associate professor of marketing at Wichita State University, said "We Got the Goods" may help make Wichita look more progressive.
Headley said he likes "We Got the Goods" more than "We've Got the Goods."
"We're not afraid to take the risk," he said. "It shows that we're not too stodgy. Maybe this frees everybody up a bit. That could be a plus."
Margaret Dawe, chairwoman of the English department at Wichita State University, said she's gotten used to people bending the rules.
"There's a long history in advertising of mangling grammar," she said.
Asked if she's concerned that such a campaign sends the wrong message to children, she said, "They have so many other sources to learn bad grammar.
"Generally I'm one of those who wishes I could carry an apostrophe around in my car and put it where it belongs, but who cares? It's hopeless," she said.
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