Tuesday, September 23, 2014

BOGO or Bobo?

A whole lexicon of acronyms is multiplying faster than I can keep up.

I thought that teaching high school students, teaching college students, and a penchant for action films and hard rock music would keep me abreast of Generation I's lingo, but I seem to be falling behind.

One night while indulging my guilty pleasure of watching Investigation Television (Homicide Hunter and Deadly Women are two of my favs), I saw a commercial for a sale at Payless shoe store.  Here was this cutesy, twenty-something blonde loading up her trunk with a bundle of shopping bags saying that it was the best "bogo" sale ever.

What in the hell is a "bogo" sale?

Since the commercial didn't present the term in all capital letters, it technically didn't qualify as an acronym. I didn't bother to look it up (or pay enough attention to the commercial), so I didn't learn what it was until I was shopping online and saw the phrase again: BOGO sale.  This time, it was capitalized correctly and below it was written "Buy one, get one 1/2 off."

Ah-ha: BOGO sale.  I am quite familiar with the concept; it's the new terminology that was, well, new to me.

Now that I am enlightened, I must criticize. Technically, BOGO just stands for "buy one get one," which could cause confusion.  Is the retailer reminding me that if I buy one of whatever that I will be getting just one item? Or is the retailer reassuring me that if I buy one of whatever, I will indeed get what I bought? The more accurate acronym for a "Buy one, get one 1/2 off sale" would be a BOGO HO sale. And the can of worms that advertising could open up could be cataclysmic.  Or at the very least, illegal.

My pedantic analysis aside, the phonetics of the BOGO (HO) sale are problematic. I don't know about other shoppers, but asked if I wanted to go to a BOGO sale, I'd be inclined to say "no" because it sounds too much like a sale of stupid people. Or a sale for stupid people. 

I commend advertisers for keeping it fresh, for incorporating the language the youth into your ads, for contributing to the degradation of the English language. But, I do recommend that you say your new, catchy phrases out loud to make sure that the older, less hip Gen Xers go to those sales as well.


  1. BOGO has been around for at least a decade. I remember it from my retail days (more than a decade ago). We weren't necessarily calling it BOGO (it's kind of shortened over time), but the reason it's just BOGO is because it can be any sort of buy one, get one. Buy one, get one free. Buy one, get one half off. Buy one, get one for a penny. That sort of thing.

    1. Thank you for the comment, Liz. It made me realize that my post made it sound like I never heard of the concept of buy one, get one. Concept, I got; term, I didn't. But thanks to you my readers won't think that I should be going to a Bobo sale.

  2. If it makes you feel better, I recently had the same confusion...it may have even been the same ad! I think I am technically one of the last birth years of the baby boomers, so I guess I'm not hip at all.

    I think it is less an increase in use of acronyms (which would require thought) and more our society feeling the need to allow the texting phenomenon into every aspect of life (which is, in my opinion, laziness).

    I won't go to a BOGO sale on principal.

    I actually work with someone who says "lol"



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