There’s a Yiddish short story by the brilliant Sholem Aleichim called “On Account of a Hat.” I thought about Aleichim’s story this morning when I sent out scripts with the word “final” attached to them. How stupid, arrogant, fantastic and un-godly it is to use that word in advertising.
In “On Account of a Hat,” a poor traveling salesman, Sholem Shachnah, in Tsarist Russia, telegrams his wife that he “will be home on Passover without fail.” Then, trouble begins. He loses his hat and mistakenly takes the hat of an important official. Suddenly, Sholem is treated by everyone with enormous respect, he’s called “Your Excellency,” seated in First Class accommodations. Finally, Sholem realizes his error, takes the train back to replace the official’s hat and in so doing, misses the train that would have got him home in time for Passover.
Eventually, the story of Sholem’s ordeal gets back to his hometown, and his wife gives him a very hard time. Not about his being away for the holiday or wearing the official’s hat. But about having sent a telegraph in which he promised to be home without fail. The adding of two unnecessary words was outrageous in her view, and besides, how could any human being claim to do anything without fail?
How can any human being in advertising use the unnecessary and outrageous word ‘final’?