Archive for the ‘Language in advertising’ Category

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.

Burger King phallicity

December 13, 2014

From Jeff Shaumeyer, a picture taken at his local Burger King:

Jeff writes:

I’m not sure what they intended should ignite my tastebuds, but I am disinclined to believe that I am the ONLY guy who will see male genitalia in the background of this lovely banner.

Well, some of us are inclined to find such images wherever we can.

(Meanwhile, I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea of having my tastebuds ignited. Ouch.)

Kicked in the mascot

December 12, 2014

Today’s Mother Goose & Grimm:

The Mascots — Ronald McDonald, Colonel Sanders, Tony the Tiger, Yellow the M&M, and Cap’n Crunch — view their fallen teammate, Mr. Peanut, with dismay.


Jeff Goldblum

December 6, 2014

(Not a death notice, but an appreciation.)

An old Law & Order: Criminal Intent went by me this morning, with the tall (6′ 4″) and versatile actor Jeff Goldblum in the role of Detective Zach Nichols. And that brought me to a wonderful GE commercial starring Goldblum that I had somehow missed. Goldblum, shirtless, and with big hair.



October 24, 2014

Yesterday’s One Big Happy, in which Ruthie goes (as usual) with the familiar over the novel:


Stovepipe hat (an unfamiliar expression for Ruthie) is transformed in Ruthie’s ears into Stove Top Stuffing, a familiar expression in her world (context is crucial!), even though the two are pretty distant phonologically (very imperfect as a pun).


The plural of Miss Subways

October 24, 2014

In the current (10/27/14) New Yorker, an entertaining “Where Are They Now Dept.” feature by Michael Schulman, “Underground Beauties”, beginning:

Long before Dr. Zizmor and Poetry in Motion, beauty on the subways came in the form of the Miss Subways competition, which ran from 1941 to 1976. The idea, hatched by the New York Subways Advertising Company, was to prettify the train cars while drawing eye traffic to the surrounding ads for chewing gum or cigarettes. Every few months, a new glamour shot would appear on posters underground, along with a few lines describing the winner’s hobbies (“modern dance, piano and ceramics”) and aspirations (“plugging for B.A. but would settle for M.R.S.”). Nearly two hundred women claimed the title.

Over the years, nearly two hundred women served as Miss Subways. So there were nearly two hundred Miss Subwayses? No that can’t be right: Subways is already plural. The obvious solution is a zero plural, with only one realization of plural inflection: nearly two hundred Miss Subways. And that’s the solution in the New Yorker piece.


Slush Puppies

September 27, 2014

In the NYT on the 23rd, an obit by Paul Vitello, “Will Radcliff, 74, Creator of the Slush Puppie, Dies”, beginning:

Flavored ice drinks had been around since the Romans, and machines had been churning them out under various brand names for almost as long, it seems, when Will Radcliff, a peanut salesman, had the ice beverage inspiration that made him rich.

He called it a Slush Puppie. Thirty years later, when he sold the company he had founded to make and market the product, the Slush Puppie had become a staple among aficionados of brain-freezing supersweet drinks all over the world.

(“brain-freezing supersweet drinks” is a nice turn of phrase). The product mascot:



Puns and their allies

September 23, 2014

It starts with today’s Zippy, with a punning title; continues with a Discover Card tv commercial for fraud protection (or frog protection); and ends with some bilingual play involving Nadia Boulanger. There will be digressions at each stage.

The Zippy:


The title, “Getting a Bad Feline”, puns on feeling and (with reference to the actual theme of the strip, the cat-replacement phenomenon in Dingburg) feline. Feline survivalism in the last panel (which I won’t comment on here), and, throughout, an entertaining pattern of naming from trade names (which I will).


Bad to the Bone

September 22, 2014

Today’s Zits:

Ah the young, failing to appreciate musical history!

The video, with George Thorogood and the Destroyers: