Archive for the ‘Language in advertising’ Category

Morning: the call of nature

October 13, 2015

Yesterday’s morning expression on awakening (with a need to answer the call of nature) was not exactly a name, but, well, the NP the call of nature. That led to the product Serutan — that is a name — and, in another direction, to the PP against nature, which I’ll reserve for another day.

Basic dictionary work. From NOAD2:

call of nature  used euphemistically to refer to a need to urinate or defecate.

and AHD5:

A need to urinate or defecate. Often used with answer: He left the room to answer the call of nature.

Idiom dictions are roughly similar, and some offer nature’s call as an alternative.


Walsh plays with formulaic and conventionalized language

October 11, 2015

In a recent cartoon posting, one (#2) from New Yorker cartoonist Liam Francis Walsh, who frequently plays with language. Here are five more from Walsh on formulaic, conventionalized, or clichéd language. There will be food: chestnuts, hot dogs, and (sliced) bread.


Annals of phallicity: nozzles (and glycerin, lubes, and posing oils)

October 10, 2015

(A posting drenched in the contemplation of the male body and man-man sex, but with linguistic points along the way. Use your judgment.)

It starts with a Channel 1 Releasing (C1R) ad for their current fire sale on gay porn, featuring the flick Full Service:


A remarkable photo. There’s the big-ol’ phallic symbol, that huge gas pump nozzle (in red, indicating that it’s engorged) that Brad Phillips is about to wield on Butch Taylor, both of their muscular tanned bodies drenched in sex sweat (well, covered in glistening glycerin — the film is from 1986, in what I like to think of as the Golden Days of Gay Glycerin). This shot is technically not X-rated, since Phillips’s hard cock is concealed by Taylor’s shoulder and Taylor’s fist wrapped around his own hard cock is concealed by the hoses.

On to the film, to nozzles as phallic symbols, and to various glycerin-related topics, ending up in the world of bodybuilders and fighters, all in posing oils.



September 18, 2015

Big advertising campaign underway for Olive Garden’s “breadstick sandwiches”. Now the idea of a breadstick sandwich might strike you as absurd, if you think of breadsticks as pencil-thin and crisp, like the grissini here:


But OG’s breadsticks are wide grissini, and they are chewy rather than crisp, so they can serve as the bun in a sandwich.


Superpatriot hot dogs

September 14, 2015

Now on tv around here, an advertising campaign for hot dogs that goes way over the top in making claims for the patriotic virtues of one particular brand, Ball Park Franks from Hillshire Brands:

The flag, and one of Our astronauts, and an advertising slogan that appears to say that there’s a characteristic American taste you can detect in Ball Park Franks because it’s so intense there. But I should say that there’s not a lot of point in trying to make sense of such slogans, because they’re not meant to communicate coherent ideas, but only to convey strong positive feelings about the product. Buy this! Because it will make you feel good!


All things shark

August 24, 2015

Heavy advertisement on cable tv for the summer-end event Shweekend (Shark Weekend — somehow, sharks provoke portmanteaus) on the Discovery Channel.


(The poster plays on the film title Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!)


Kraken! And GEICO!

August 23, 2015

This recent tv ad for GEICO entertained me enormously:

A description, from the site:

At a golf tournament, a golfer prepares to make a shot over the water. Just before he goes to swing, a kraken emerges from the water and grabs the golfer and his caddy, swinging them around with its tentacles. While all this is happening, the golf commentators continue quietly narrating the event. When you’re a golf commentator, you whisper — It’s what you do. If you want to save 15 percent or more on car insurance, you switch to GEICO.


Now, some notes: on the Kraken, and on GEICO and the”It’s What You Do” ads.


Crab feast

August 15, 2015

Some time ago a tv commercial went past me in the middle of the night: a commercial for a fast-food or casual-dining restaurant advertising specials on crab, a feast of snow crab and king crab. So I wondered about the crab in these two names, suspecting that we might be in a world where the referent of one or both of these names is unclear — where there are several distinct creatures called snow crab, say — and maybe also in a world where biologists claim that some things called crabs (or X crabs, for some specific X) are not in fact crabs at all, or aren’t “true crabs”. My suspicious are justified.


Annals of fast-food excess

August 3, 2015

Caught on tv yesterday: two, count them, two, recent commercials for excessive fast-food offerings: Wendy’s Baconator (970 calories of bacon, burger, and cheese) and Arby’s new Loaded Italian Sandwich (an Italian sub with lots of ingredients and a mere 630 calories). The latter led me to Arby’s competitor Subway, which offers an “Italian B.M.T.”, with a modest 410 calories, but that’s in their 6-inch sandwich — it’s 820 in their footlong version.


Dingburg names

July 31, 2015

Today’s Zippy, with two sets of names to savor:


First, there are the preposterous Dingburger names: Flexo Sodafiber, Glassine Bookpaper, Flemish Spindleplunger. Then there are the products, their mascots, and their names. Commerce and pop culture.



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