Tip of our tongue –
Instead of letting a brand have the final word, we called a lexicographer about it.
When I was presented with the Jif campaign’s news (timed with sales of a limited-edition jar of peanut butter ), I asked if I could speak with anybody who’d worked at Jif for some time and could thus weigh in on managing a brand like Jif during the era when a popular computer-imaging acronym exploded into common English vernacular. I’d hope this conversation would add nuance to the debate over how people choose to pronounce the letter G.
Instead, I received a phone call from a director of marketing at Smucker’s (the corporate parents of Jif, Adam’s, and other popular peanut-based spreads) who made it clear that this marketing push emerged in the past year when a new group began running Smucker’s advertising campaigns. The representative dodged my pointed questions about the etymology of the acronym, particularly how the company reckons with the creator of the GIF, Steve Wilhite , affirming his original pronunciation intent during a award acceptance speech:
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