My first reaction to the sign was to object to the use of “gift” as a verb. Why turn a noun into a verb when a perfectly serviceable verb, namely “give,” is readily available? Moreover, there was no reason that I could see, neither grammatical nor graphical, why the first word on the sign should not be capitalized.
I then began to think more deeply about the use of “gift.” Perhaps there is a semantic difference between “to give” something and “to gift” something. Whereas “giving” stress an act, usually one of generosity—one can give a cold or give heartburn to someone, however—“gifting” emphasizes the (usually material) thing that is given. McDonald’s, apparently, is not so much interested in encouraging generosity as it is in marketing the Arch Card. In this, McDonald’s isn’t much different from most other merchants, though it is perhaps more crass about it.
A visit to the McDonald’s Web site gave me more insight into the marketing of the Arch Card. On the Arch Card page, I found the following text, along with explanations under each heading:
- load it.
- gift it.
- love it.
- track it.
The aforementioned page also led me to realize that the lack of initial capitals is a graphical style recently adopted by McDonald’s. Before now, I had not noticed that the new McDonald’s tagline begins with a lowercase letter. In fact, “i’m lovin’ it” manages to violate two grammatical rules in just the first character.
I’m not “lovin’” McDonald’s corporate folksiness, either, but I’ll spare you that diatribe.
Note: “Arch Card” and “i’m lovin’ it” are registered tradmarks of McDonald’s Corporation.