Archive for the ‘Language in advertising’ Category

Reuben and Rachel

March 27, 2015

On a report (from the 25th) on a recent Arby’s ad:

Arby’s Reuben Gets a New “Rachel” Variant: Arby’s latest sandwich is the new, limited-time Turkey Rachel, which is being offered as a variant on their Reuben that comes with roast turkey and housemade coleslaw rather than the corned beef and sauerkraut


To come: the sandwiches, their ingredients, their names.


Two more morning names

February 6, 2015

Thursday’s memorable morning name was Mitzi Kapture (the actress), Friday’s was Piggly Wiggly (the supermarket).


What would you do?

January 25, 2015

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:


Without a piece of cultural background, this is just a silly story about a polar bear opening a bar in the Klondike. If you have that background, it’s a bit of language play turning on the ambiguity of Klondike bar.


Unintended ambiguity

January 23, 2015

Now appearing on many sites, this vintage (1936) promotional ad for the Willesden Electricity Dept. (in northwest London):

The (presumably) intended reading is that it is anaphoric to work; ‘let electricity do the work’. But do it is a VP anaphor as a whole, so that the reading ‘let electricity kill your wife’ is only too easy to get.

The caption identifies the source as the Milne Museum — the Milne Electrical Collection at the Amberley Museum in West Sussex.

Stanford news: the Sunday NYT

January 22, 2015

Two Stanford linguistics stories in the Sunday (January 18th) New York Times: Tyler Schnoebelen at the American Dialect Society meetings, Will Leben on product naming.


Shed your inhibitions

January 15, 2015

Part of the latest ad campaign for Equinox Fitness, a guy wielding a Manneken Pis:


On its website, the company assures us that “Equinox isn’t just a fitness club, it’s a temple of well-being.” And the ad campaign tells us that the clubs can embolden you to shed your inhibitions.



January 4, 2015

A continuing ad campaign for Febreze air freshener and odor eliminator products warns us about noseblindness,

The gradual acclimation to the smells of one’s home, car, or belongings, in which the affected does not notice them (even though their guests do). (link)

An illustration of a cat owner’s noseblindness, showing how visitors will perceive their house:

Noseblind is a fairly clever coinage for this sensory saturation effect, treating it as similar to being temporarily blinded by bright lights or deafened by loud noises. But it’s not truly similar to being blind or deaf. which are enduring and more global inabilities.


Audio-lingual meatballs

December 18, 2014

From dinner at Reposado (‘quiet, restful’) — an upscale and elegant Mexican restaurant in Palo Alto — on the 14th, albondigas (‘meatballs’):

From the menu:

Pork and beef meatballs, root vegetable puree, tomato oregano sauce, demi glace, cotija cheese

Here, just the meatballs in a tomato sauce; but albondigas are most often served in a broth, as meatball soup.

Photo by Ned Deily, who ordered the dish in a bow to his high school Spanish class, which was taught resolutely by the audio-lingual method; students had to memorize and repeat dialogues, in particular one about albondigas that has stuck with him through all the years since.


Telezippic communication

December 16, 2014

Today’s Zippy, in which our Pinhead fails at telepathic communication:


And the diner is: the Main Street Diner in Plainville CT.



December 16, 2014

Thanks to Victor Steinbok, I know that there’s a Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog, 2014 edition by Drew Magary hereThe company is an “Upscale chain offering high-end cookware, house-label kitchen accessories & gourmet goods” (from the Stanford Shopping Center site). Magary pillories astonishingly expensive food items and kitchen supplies of dubious usefulness. Among them:

Item #66-1375781 – Open Kitchen Lapkin ($5 Each)

Copy: “Extra-wide cotton napkin.”

Drew Says: Lapkin. Got it. Gonna need a lapkin ring for these lapkins, plus lapkinlets for cocktail hour.

lapkin: a portmanteau of lap and napkin. A word of dubious utility for a generously proportioned napkin.


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