payless shoesCommercials and advertising campaigns are almost always annoying. But every once and a while there comes along a commercial or advertising idea that makes me want to kill everyone including myself, or even, God save us all,  turn off my TV. For example, I’ve had a tough, ongoing struggle to live harmoniously in the same universe with the Arby’s talking oven mitt spokesperson.

But the oven mitt is not, as I long assumed, the essence of all that is wrong in the world. It’s Payless Shoes and their BOGO promotion.

I don’t have a problem with the Payless product. I like the idea of inexpensive shoes. However, a few times a year, perhaps once a season, they have a BOGO sale. What does that mean? It means that, during the BOGO promotion, you can buy a pair of shoes and get another pair of shoes, of equal or lesser value, for half price.

I know what you’re thinking: sounds like a pretty good deal…but why is it called BOGO? I’ll tell you. BOGO is an acronym for Buy One Get One Half Priced. Kind of. Maybe Payless is also paying less for their advertising people, who decided that, unlike most acronyms, their acronym would stop half way through what it actually stood for – cutting out the HALF OFF part of the message? Maybe Payless purchased their acronym during some sort of a Buy Half An Acronym promotion?

No, here’s what probably happened: the Payless advertising group was sitting around a conference room table – unshowered and eating cold Chinese takeout after days of tedious brainstorming. They were exhausted, desperate, and maybe even hallucinating a bit from sleep deprivation. How would they come up with something fresh and catchy for their Buy One Get One Half Priced sale? It was impossible, and the deadline was in an hour.

“Screw it,” the head advertising lady would have finally said, half-heartedly flinging her pen across the table. “Let’s drop the BOGOHP idea and just go with BOGO. I have a family. I have dreams. I am not the monster you see before you.”

And so it was. BOGO is just easier. Bogo could be the name of a cartoon dog that wears human clothes and enjoys puns and walking upright. Bogo could be the name of the exotic island where you took your honeymoon – somewhere with volcanic black sand beaches and swim-up bars. Bogo could be the name of the new wildly fun board game that brings the whole family together, if only for a few hours.

What is Bogohp, on the other hand? Bogohp could be the name of that exchange student your family had your senior year of high school that always picked his nose at the dinner table and at first you thought it was a cultural thing until you met another guy from the same vague Eastern Bloc country Bogoph was from, and he explained that no, they don’t pick their noses at the dinner table, they just drink Vodka.

Bogohp could be the name of the post-post modern art exhibit that you are forced to go see on a first date – and not even a first date with someone you like, but a first date you only agreed to for the combination of the self-esteem boost and the excuse to buy a new dress. It turns out Bogohpism, which all the big critics are calling “an innovative wave of abstract ideas that we totally understand better than laypeople,” looks kind of like that coffee table book you got for your birthday that’s filled with pictures painted by house cats.

Bogohp could be the noise the guy you are on the self-esteem new-dress first date with makes when he gets really excited and also the noise he makes when he blows his nose. A noise which causes you to leave early, maybe even before your free dinner, go to a theater by yourself to see the new romantic comedy/Hilary Duff vehicle, and then return home to sit in the silence of your studio apartment and reevaluate your life.

In short, the BOGO commercial makes me really angry every time it comes on. You can’t just pick and choose the letters you use for your acronym! Sure, you can drop a T for THE or an O for OF but you can’t drop two big, important words! It’s madness!

If I were the head of advertising at Payless Shoes, things would have gone very differently that day in the conference room. In just minutes, I would have erased the brainstorming whiteboard with huge arching swoops and written the acronym BOGOHO (Buy One Get One Half OFF).

And then I would describe my vision for the commercial – the 30-second primetime spot. It would show a high-powered career woman wearing a pair of beautiful high-heeled Payless Shoes, running to catch a taxi. She would turn to the camera and candidly say, “I’m a BOGO HO.” Then it would cut to a mother, wearing a pair of Payless sneakers, playing with her kids on a tire swing. “I’m a BOGO HO,” she would whisper to the camera, maybe winking a little. Then the camera would cut to a chic hipster in Payless flats, tripping along a path with a cute hipster guy. After laughing with the cute guy and kicking up her legs joyously, she looks into the camera and confesses, “I’m a BOGO HO.”

That would make me so much happier.