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Bob's your pound

When a pound is not a pound, it’s a burger

Plain English Campaign accepts that language changes to reflect the changes in our society. But that makes it even more important for businesses to get the facts right when encouraging customers to spend money.

There has been a surge of public objection about the information contained in a recent burger advertisement. The advertisement for ‘pound saver meals’ compares a £1 (one pound) to a ‘bob’ (slang for a shilling) as part of the promotion for the company’s 99 pence burger.

Information from the Retail Prices Index on the Office of National Statistics website works out that back in 1955 a shilling was worth about the same as £1 is worth today.

And at the time of decimalisation on 15 February 1971, one shilling became 5p. That is £0.05, just a twentieth of £1. But at no time does this mean that £1 has been known as a ‘bob’.

As trivial as this might seem to some of us, it is the absence of sufficient research, and unclear thinking behind the facts, that leads to communications causing confusion and mistrust in public information. Companies fortunate enough to be making substantial profits in these difficult times would be better making it crystal-clear what their customers are getting for their money, rather than using irrelevant terms in a ‘creative’ way that simply leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths.

Chrissie Maher, OBE and founder of Plain English Campaign says, “We are led to believe that fast thinking, fast food and fast living is all good for us, but for me it just brings a lack of clarity, stress and indigestion. Give me some plain English that I can stomach.”

Marie Clair, spokesperson for Plain English Campaign says, “People are becoming less likely to swallow these costly marketing tactics, particularly when it’s at the expense of their hard-earned pounds, and that’s nothing to do with ‘bobs’.”

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