Copy Conundrums

By Matt Van Hoven 

It’s only so often that copy comes along that’s so obviously silly that it has to get some attention. So we’ve created a snazzy little section for strange word usage, and we’re calling it Copy Conundrums. When you see an ad, a story, or even a street sign that doesn’t make sense to you, be sure to let us know.

The first in our new series came across our plate while reading a nice little Jack Neff piece in AdAge, about the demise of P&G’s Noxzema brand. Whilst soaking up the story, mine eyes came across this line.

“There was a time, however, when Noxzema, a facial-cleanser-cum-makeup-remover-cum-acne-remedy in a distinctive blue glass bottle, was in almost every American medicine cabinet.”

Yes, Noxzema is a known facial cleanser, make-up remover and acne remedy. And yes, this sentence is grammatically error free (it should also be known that in this case, the word “cum” means “with”).

However,the preposition’s use has dwindled in the last 30 or so years, probably because of its association with ejaculate. In this case it’s painfully clear why it should remain shelved.

Mr. Neff, we admire your resurrection of the word, but next time you’re writing a piece about products that clean one’s face, try and use “with,” instead.