Sunday, January 27, 2008

How to improve writing (no. 18 in a series)

A "blow out clearance"? A "sales event"? Dig the hyperbole and redundancy of this Wal-Mart sign:

  BLOW OUT
   APPAREL
CLEARANCE
     SALES
    EVENT
I wonder whether the sign's portrait-orientation led the author to pile up words to fill the space. Better:
   APPAREL
CLEARANCE
     SALE
Plain old clothing would be a better choice of course, but I'll stick by the dowdy word apparel, which no one outside of retail seems to use. (When did you last go apparel shopping?)

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comments: 2

Genevieve said...

"Sales event" is a common term at my retail job (not a WalMart). I think they call them "events" because each sale requires a company-wide plan, special advertising in the media and throughout the store, coordinated shipment of stock, training for staff, etc.

We also have "cardholder events," wherein we offer special prices if the purchase is charged on a company credit card. During these, we are supposed to try to get new people to apply for credit cards as well as making a lot of credit sales.

I'm not sure if we actually advertise the sales as "events" but it wouldn't surprise me. I suppose that when the term does slip into public view, a "sales event" sounds less predatory than "sales campaign."

Michael Leddy said...

I now realize that "sales event" is often in car commercials: "year-end sales event." But I've never heard of "cardholder events." Yes, "event" sounds less predatory. And more special too.