Commerce

An Article of Faith for Marketers: Place No Faith in Articles

Published on September 13, 2011
by Geoffrey A. Fowler and Yukari Iwatani Kane

This is an article about articles. They’re going AWOL.

Sitting down to chat last year with Amazon.com Inc.’s Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, television host Charlie Rose announced that the two would discuss “the Kindle,” Amazon’s e-reader. But throughout the interview, Mr. Bezos repeatedly dodged the word “the,” saying how “Kindle is succeeding,” that “Kindle is a companion to tablet computers” and touting how many e-books are “available for Kindle.”

Mr. Bezos is part of a growing cadre of marketers who conscientiously object to using articles — the tiny English words “the,” “a” and “an” that typically precede many nouns.

Nintendo Co.’s website shows gamers “what Wii is all about.” As far back as 1984, Apple Inc. said in a commercial that it would “introduce Macintosh.” Today, an Apple video enthuses: “There’s never been anything like iPad.” Some companies make the drop official. Research In Motion Ltd.’s style guide specifies that “BlackBerry” should be used “as an adjective and not as a noun or verb.” An unacceptable usage, it says: “the BlackBerry.”

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