I first heard of “BOGO” sales on the American television we Canadians get piped in (the majority of Canucks live near the border). The first time I heard an explanation about what the mysterious acronym meant was much later on in the commercial. “Buy one get one half off”, said the announcer. I was offended because I prefer linear acronyms. I felt this one should be BOGOHO.
But they never said that BOGO was an acronym. And I think this is the loophole they were trying to set. BOGO, to them, could simply mean “buy one get one half off” in a straight up way. It was my mind that was trying to force the linear thing.
Fine. I don’t even live in the States. It’s not like I could even shop at that store.
But BOGO eventually crossed the border. Recently a store in my local mall advertised a BOGO sale. It meant “buy one get one half off” of course. This assault on my language had invaded my own mall. Truth in advertising anyone? I don’t know of any challenge to any of these overblown sales.
The slide continued this week when I got coupon sheets from McDonald’s and Harvey’s (a Canadian burger chain). Both chains hide behind the lowly asterisk.
The McDonald’s one says “Buy one , get one Free*” in huge letters. The asterisk leads us to much smaller writing: “Buy any McMuffin, Buttermilk Biscuit, Breakfast Bagel or McGriddles breakfast sandwich with the purchase of one (1) Hashbrowns and get a second same breakfast sandwich FREE!”
The Harvey’s coupon also says, “Buy one, get one free*” in huge type. The small writing after the asterisk says: “Buy a burger and a 20 oz. soft drink (or burger combo) and receive a FREE burger of equal or lesser value.”
The underhandedness has spread. What if you were an elderly person who couldn’t read the small print? What if you were lazy and didn’t follow the asterisk. Shouldn’t laws be in place to say that an asterisk can’t have a statement contradictory to the original one? I think advertisers have crossed the line in these cases. They can’t even hide behind technicalities. The original statement is simply not true. Advertising is simply out of hand at this point.
As long as we allow BOGO to stand uncontested as a “Buy one get one half off sale” these other advertisers will say it’s just as misleading.
I can see the defence. The BOGO people will say they are just protecting the public by keeping a lid on the HO syllable. I will defend the syllable, saying we are all hos for BOGO sales (or BOGOHOs). And some of us are even hos for BOGOHO sales (or BOGOHOHOs). And some of us are even hos for Hoho (an American snack made by Hostess) BOGO sales (or BOGOHOHOHOs).
And if a saint of an elf named Santa Claus can say “Ho! Ho! Ho!” all the time, the rest of us can too. Down with BOGO and other attempts to cheat the public.