Archive for the ‘Language in advertising’ Category


November 23, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the product ExtenZe,

a herbal nutritional supplement claiming to promote “natural male enhancement”, a euphemism for penis enlargement. Additionally, television commercials and advertisements claim an “improved” or “arousing” sexual experience [longer, stronger, harder erections]. (from Wikipedia)

Now another product has come along and is advertising heavily on cable tv, especially at night. Unlike ExtenZe, which contains small anounts of virtually every substance believed (in some tradition or another) to be of some efficacy in enlarging the penis or improving sexual performance, Nugenix has a small ingredients list, which includes one herb, fenugreek seed, that is not in ExtenZe.



November 8, 2015

(It’s going to be penis penis penis in this posting. But fairly decorously, and with some discussion of names, plants, and medicine.)

Every so often there’s an outbreak of ExtenZe commercials on late-night cable television. Well, the same commercial, over and over again. The current ad features former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, who became the official spokesman for ExtenZe in 2010:

Here’s comic Jim Gaffigan riffing on this commercial:

Note Gaffigan’s playing on Jimmy Johnson‘s name as a possible factor in his choice as spokesman; Gaffigan mentions (former Chicago Bears linebacker) Dick Butkus as an alternative. I suppose it’s too bad that actor Peter O’Toole is no longer available. (In a while I’ll consider Willy / Willie candidates.)

But first some ExtenZe background.


Clean underwear

November 6, 2015

A recent tv commercial ‘Clean Underwear’ for Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper, featuring the four Charmin bears and their mother, skirts direct mention of feces stains on underwear (colloquially referred to euphemistically as skidmarks), while including a very slightly concrealed allusion to skids. A performance that some viewers found funny-cute and others found offensive. By going to this site, you can access a video of the commercial that loops through the thing again and again, until you shut it off.


Breasts and bras

November 3, 2015

In the November Harper’s Magazine, a fine piece by Sallie Tisdale, “Miracles and Wonders: One woman’s search for a perfect bra”, touching on almost everything bra-related. Here I’ll look at four things: variation in breasts; bras compared to jockstraps; the aura of sex that suffuses the world of bras; and Tisdale’s wardobe of bras. Along the way: analogies between female breasts and male genitals, and in line with that, analogies between bras and male underwear containing the genitals (briefs, jockstraps, etc.).

Illustration in Harper’s by Katherine Streeter:


Pop-Tart blasphemy

October 27, 2015

This Pop-Tart commercial for their new Peanut Butter & Jelly line went past me this morning:

Well, I heard the peanut of peanut butter as penis, but that’s no surprise for someone of my inclinations. I noted it, to add to my file of mishearings, but decided not to post about it; I don’t post about each instance separately. But then along came the One Million Moms and their campaign to try to force Kellogg’s to withdraw the ad, or at least edit one line they found offensive because of its “foul language”. From their 10/15 posting, “Contact Kellogg’s Concerning ‘Jam It’ Ad”:

“No! Ah, Jam It!” The advertisement could have ended with “No!” but Kellogg’s chose to include a phrase that sounded just like a curse word.

It took me a while to see that they were talking about the blasphemous profanity Damn it! / Dammit!, which for me is the mildest sort of strong language. But they’re really serious Christians, who feel that children need protection from blasphemy, or allusions to blasphemy, in the media (in expressions with words like Christ, God, damn, and hell in them — OMG!).


A regrettable food name

October 24, 2015

The chirpy and supremely annoying commercials for Dump Cakes are back on my cable tv. Here’s a sample:

The box of stuff you just dump on top of the other ingredients and bake in the oven:


The name dump cake looks like a N + N compound, and not one of the possibly relevant senses of the noun dump is at all savory, and one (the sense that came first to my mind) is decidedly unsavory, on the edge of scatological taboo. Think of the idiom take a dump. How could the Dump Cakes people not have noticed this?


Rafe on display

October 19, 2015

(Some plain talk about man-man sex in here, but no X-rated images. Use your judgment.)

Yesterday’s ad from Daily Jocks (with my caption):


Rafe — solicited by Nasty
Pig at the Bay of
Pigs dance party at an
Up Your Alley — loved
Living in a jockstrap, loved
Even more the company
Pig Parties, where he was a
Pig Champ. But nothing had
Prepared him for

He’s remarkably well preserved, I’d say.


Lightning strike

October 15, 2015

Yesterday’s ad from Daily Jocks:

Supaman has only to rub his
Hands together, or grind his
Crotch against a hot guy, and
Sparks will fly. His energy can
Drive a roomful of men into
Heat… Plus, he knows everything
About renewable power.


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.



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