Thursday, April 30, 2009

Learn Some Useful English through the Swine Flu News!

Just when you thought the financial crisis may be under control and the world was setting down again...swine flu mania has struck! Instead of sitting and worrying about it, take action. Practice your English with this swine flu news:

Here is part of an article from the Wall Street Journal. Words and expressions to be discussed are in blue:

As fears of swine flu spread, companies ranging from soap and hand-sanitizer manufacturers to makers of designer face masks are ramping up their marketing efforts, mostly pitching prevention messages starring their products. stepping up its advertising for Dial Complete foaming hand wash, rapidly assembling a push that includes national print and online ads and in-store displays...Johnson & Johnson, which makes Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer, is updating its Web site and evaluating how best to offer hygiene information to the public. increasing production of its disinfectant spray to meet an uptick in demand and mounting a public-relations push to educate consumers about protecting their families from germs. HandClens, an upstart hand sanitizer made by Woodward Laboratories...says it is more than doubling its ad budget and promotional efforts and distributing its "ABC: Always Be Clean" hand-hygiene teaching program to school districts across the country....

But the marketers have to walk a fine line as they hawk their products during a public-health emergency.


(to) ramp up one's (marketing) efforts - to increase an activity; when a company ramps up their marketing efforts, they are going to be spending more money on various promotional and advertising campaigns

(to) step up - to increase; to start focusing on something

uptick in demand - an increase in demand; what every company wants to see in order to sell more products and make more money!

upstart - a new company; a company that was recently started; sometimes called a "start-up," especially when it deals in technology

(to) walk a fine line - to act with sensitivity; to act according to how delicate the situation is -- in the case of this swine flu virus, companies don't want to appear to be piggish(!) in their desire to benefit from the problem by selling more cleaning products that people need to prevent illness

(to) hawk one's products - to sell a product (usually in a pushy way); the verb "hawk" here suggests that the selling is not 100% in good taste. In other words, the company is aggressively pushing a product to make some quick money