What’s P YOUR N?

It started, so far as I can tell, with a Capital One credit card commercial in 2005, showing people repulsing marauding hordes, and avoiding other dire circumstances, by brandishing their Capital One cards. The voiceover goes, “What’s in YOUR wallet?” — an entirely ordinary English sentence, but with contrastive prosody, implicating that if viewers have something other than a Capital One card in their wallet, things could go badly for them in such circumstances, so they should get a Capital One card.

[It’s a triumph of language use that people work through these conveyed meanings so easily and quickly — which is why the commercials work. (I’m still entertained by them, even after five years.)]

Then came the “What’s on YOUR credit card?” campaign, featuring Capital One’s offer to configure the picture on clients’ credit cards to their liking. So you could have, say, fluffy kittens, if you wished.

The implicature in this case is much like in the first: if your credit card has something plain and impersonal on it, then you’re missing out on the pleasures of Capital One cards, so you should get a Capital One card.

I suspect that the Capital One commercials have spawned some playful allusions, but they can’t be searched for easily on-line, because the prosody is crucial. But here’s a case that I think is a playful allusion to the commercials: an ad for the Fleshjack, which represents itself as “the #1 selling male sex toy in the world”, and asks “what’s on your dick?”

The Fleshjack website describes this “ultimate gay sex toy”:

The Fleshjack contains an interchangeable masturbation sleeve encased in a sleek, durable plastic container. The masturbation sleeve is made from a patented material called SuperSkin™, which replicates the sensation of penetrative sex. The sleeves come in a variety of inner textures to further enhance your sexual experience.

The ad where I first came across this object shows a beefy guy wielding his Fleshjack with intense concentration (of the sort that people fully engaged in sexual activity are inclined to exhibit), along with that question, which I assume is to be read as “what’s on YOUR dick?”, implicating that if it’s anything other than a Fleshjack — your hand, for instance — it’s inferior to it, so you should upgrade to a Fleshjack.

We’re still pretty far from snowclone territory here; this is just an echo of the Capital One commercials — an entertaining one, but just an echo.

2 Responses to “What’s P YOUR N?”

  1. Jan Freeman Says:

    Liberty Mutual has a tagline “Responsibility: What’s *Your* Policy?” that I hear all the time on my local public radio station, which LM supports. The bare tagline has always seemed a bit opaque to me, but maybe if you see/hear the actual commercials it all becomes clear.

  2. The Ridger Says:

    Huh. I have twice ordered a Capital One card with my photo on it, and twice been told the image has been approved, and never seen the card, nor heard about it’s being sent. What’s on MY card, Cap One? That stupid logo you put there, that’s what.

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