Rumination 55: Would You Like Hyphens with That?

Back in March, I wrote a Rumination called Compound Modifiers, in which I complained about people’s general lack of appreciation (or rather, complete ignorance) of hyphens. Without hyphens, businesses end up producing all kinds of ridiculous labelling and signage that are technically incorrect. Whilst often understandable anyway, the resulting text can often be misconstrued or humorous.

Well, I stumbled upon a great example of technical misspelling by McDonald’s some time ago (or Macca’s for Australian readers), which you can see below.

What’s wrong with this? Instead of saying ‘Delicious barista-made coffee’, it says ‘Delicious barista made coffee’. To explain, by missing a hyphen to say that a delicious coffee was made by a barista, it claims (almost like a newspaper headline) that a delicious barista made the coffee in question. It would also explain why the copywriter included a full stop at the end of what is now a ridiculous sentence, as with a compound modifier it would have simply been a noun group without a verb—no full stop required in this case.

(As an aside, I’ve seen baristas who work at McCafé and I have no desire whatsoever to test if they are delicious.)

‘So, Martin, if this was some time ago’, you may be wondering, ‘Why are you only sharing this now?’. Quite simply, the billboard was up ages ago and I missed taking a picture of it before it was replaced. In that time, Macca’s installed new versions of the billboard with the correct spelling. Phew! The company realised the error! Just when I thought that my chance was gone, this original advertisement returned. Yes, you read that correctly: as far as I can tell, Macca’s realised the error, redesigned the ad, put up new versions as a second run and then undid the whole thing on the same site to show the original mistake. That’s the only reason that I was able to take this picture of the reincarnation of the famous, delicious barista.

Here’s something on which you can ruminate: with all the money and power that a company like Macca’s has to attract the very best advertisers and marketers, surely it could spend a bit more on its recruitment process to hire copywriters who can spell, right?

Since this photo was taken, Macca’s has replaced the image yet again to promote its annual Monopoly game, in which you spend more for ‘food’ items with useless prize labels attached to them in the hope of winning further free ‘food’ and other consumerist rubbish. It seems that Macca’s has a monopoly on this billboard indeed.