If you possess both a sense of social awareness and an Internet connection, you know talk of Go Daddy’s Super Bowl commercial oozes from the Web kind of like that attention-grabbing, smooch-induced saliva leaked from Bar Refaeli and Jesse Heiman’s locked lips. (The buzz also oozes from websites the way your brain seeps through your ears after watching the commercial too many times.)
A commercial with such unique execution has a simple premise: smart meets sexy. Go Daddy is a seamless, smooth combination of the two forces. Bar Refaeli represents the sexy element, while Jesse Heiman symbolizes the nerdy, smart element. Combine the two traits, and you have Go Daddy. Combine the two archetypal characters, and you have the kiss that winces, recoils, and uncomfortable sentiments are made of.
People engaged in marketing often try to do what Go Daddy did in the ad, though usually in a more budget-conscious, decorous manner: lure customers with a sexy offer, and keep them with smart products/services/support.
That sexy offer can range from a TV ad to a coupon to expertly written content.
And sexy, expertly written content has: a relevant and interesting topic, lean copy, and (my personal favorite) good grammar.
When people aren’t nitpicking your misplaced modifiers or incorrect punctuation, they’re focusing on the smart, original, innovative message your content provides, and isn’t that what every content marketer wants?
For some people, the thought of learning grammar generates a reaction very similar to the one generated by watching and listening to two individuals suck face: cringes. But there’s something alluring, credible, and trustworthy about a piece of content with correct grammar. And who says grammar can’t be sexy?
Grammar: fostering the brand-client relationship one contraction at a time
So here’s a brief lesson on two grammar rules.
Less vs. Fewer
The rule for the correct use of less and fewer is simple, but there are a few nuances. Like Go Daddy, I’ll keep it simple. Unlike Go Daddy, I’ll keep it kosher.
The basic rule:
Use fewer with countable things. Use less with uncountable things.
Here’s an example:
I saw two Go Daddy commercials during the Super Bowl. I wish I saw fewer Go Daddy Commercials.
I can count each Go Daddy commercial I saw. I saw one commercial, and then I saw a second commercial. That makes two commercials. Because the commercials are countable, I use fewer here.
Audi’s commercial generated fewer social media comments than Go Daddy’s.
Social media comments are countable, so I would use fewer in this instance as well.
I would use less in a sentence like this:
The kiss in Go Daddy’s commercial actually generates less slobber than the typical kiss.
How do we count slobber? Do we count it in milliliters or in ounces? As far as I know, slobber isn’t countable. (I think this is for the best.)
Like any good grammar rule, the less vs. fewer rule has an exception. We use the word less to talk about time, money, or distance. Like so:
Go Daddy spent less than four hours filming its commercial.
Let’s say Go Daddy spent three hours and 45 minutes filming its commercial (thereby generating a lot of saliva in the process). We can count each individual minute, so it seems like we would use fewer here. But we don’t. An hour is a measurement of time. A guideline from The New York Times stylebook explains sentences such as the above like this: the sentence isn’t written to emphasize each individual, countable minute spent filming the commercial. It’s written to highlight a time span, so less is appropriate.
According to the exception, I would also use less in a sentence like this:
Go Daddy spent less than eight million dollars on the commercial.
We can technically count each dollar Go Daddy spent on the commercial, but eight million dollars is an amount of money, so less is correct.
Further vs. Farther
Does it really matter what we say about the Go Daddy commercial as long as we’re saying something about it? To Go Daddy, it probably doesn’t matter.
Does it really matter whether you use further or farther? To the grammatically inclined folk, it slightly matters.
According to Merriam-Webster, the words further and farther were used interchangeably for a long time, but recently people are distinguishing between the two.
Here’s the difference people stress: farther refers to physical distance, while further refers to metaphorical distance.
I drove farther than 10 miles to my friend’s house to watch the Super Bowl.
Miles refers to physical distance.
I need to look no further than the Go Daddy commercial if I want to see a nerdy guy.
This distance is metaphorical or figurative, not physical.
The good news is that this rule isn’t set in stone, and if a sentence is ambiguous, you can use either.
But there is one thing worth remembering. Remember how in Go Daddy’s commercial, Go Daddy claimed to have two functions (smart and sexy)? The word further is similar. It has two functions: it can denote metaphorical distance and it can mean “moreover” or “in addition.” Like so:
The sound of the kiss made me wince. Further, it made me squirm.
So here’s to sexy, smart content that doesn’t induce squirms.