Archive for the ‘Language of advertising’ Category

Who was that man?

February 1, 2022

I start with a photo quiz. Four pictures of men working as models under several professional names, taken over a roughly ten-year period — during which, being models, they might have changed various alterable aspects of their appearance, like hairstyle and hair color, as well as clothing or lack of it; and since they were models, their photographers might have altered some shots for the intended audience. Your task is to say how many men are shown here, and if there are fewer than four, which photos match up.


Cooking with gas: a guest posting

November 21, 2021

Grant Barrett (of the Barnette-Barrett radio show A Way with Words — and a real lexicographer, one of the lexicographers I sometimes hang out with, even though I’m not of that tribe) tried to post this as a comment on my posting yesterday, “Now we’re cooking with carrots”, but it appears to have been indigestible to WordPress, so I’m publishing it here as a guest posting. Remember: what follows below the line is Grant, all Grant, not me (except for some formatting).


Leyendecker’s jockey

January 21, 2021

In a recent Pinterest mailing, another homoerotic ad from American illustrator J.C. Leyendecker (famous for his depictions of American masculinity in ads for Arrow shirts and collars; and then for Kuppenheimer’s men’s clothes, as here; and in his many covers for the Saturday Evening Post magazine, which considerably influenced the illustrator Norman Rockwell):


Elegant masculinity on the left (perhaps the owner of a racehourse), athletic masculinity on the right (a jockey). As in many of JCL’s illustrations, this one strikingly features male buttocks — in this case, the jockey’s.

Two themes here: manly brand icons; and JCL’s homoeroticism.


Erective affinities

April 19, 2018

The Daily Jocks ad from yesterday, for a swimwear sale, with a caption of my own devising (below the fold). Not for kids or the sexually modest:



The further adventures of Dick Danger

March 9, 2018

(About two gay porn flicks from TitanMen, with over-the-top ad copy in street language mixed with arch double entendres. Plus hairy beefy musclehunks just short of the X-line. Not for kids or the sexually modest.)

It starts with an ad today for an upcoming mansexfest (to be released on April 16th):



Exercises in commercial style

November 6, 2017

Two recent pieces of p.r. ad-talk: one over the top with business jargon; one framed as a lifestyle or fashion ad. Both touting a preposterous product: a podcast about the “facets and opportunities” of death; a notebook of paper infused with the proprietary scent of a tech company.


On the pickle watch

November 3, 2017

From Alex [Alessandro Michelangelo] Jaker yesterday on Facebook, this photo of him at the Mr. Pickle’s in Millbrae CA, very near SFO (in 2005, when he lived above the shop and right under the jet planes):

(#1) Another line of trochaic tetrameter: Mister Pickle Alex Jaker

A wry bilingual word play, involving the alternative Latin 3rd decl. neut. nouns

nom. sg. alec, gen. alecis

nom. sg. allec or allex, gen. allecis

all meaning ‘fish sauce, herrings, pickle’. Alex is Mr. Pickle.

(With the inevitable phallic allusion to images of or references to pickled cucumbers, usually referred to briefly as just pickles.)


The pumpkin spice cartoon meme

October 23, 2017

From my 10/20/17 posting “A processed flavor”, this Kaamran Hafeez cartoon:

(#1) pumpkin spice ‘top of the line, top-grade, high-end’

The Hafeez is at the end of a series of mocking Pumpkin Spice cartoon memes, ranging from the most concrete (on pumpkin spice lattes, especially as a sign of the fall), through pumpkin spice more generally as a flavor (especially in foods that wouldn’t normally have such a flavor), and then just a scent (especially in non-food products), to the fully abstract sense in #1.

Note that though premium, or high-octane, usually names the top grade of gasoline in the US, in #1 pumpkin spice is used to name an extra-premium grade, a grade above even premium. This is what we might call grade expansion, a recurrent strategy in naming grades of products for the purposes of advertisement: if grande (lit. ‘large’) is used to name the largest size of coffee available, then, pretty predictably, new, even larger, sizes will be invented to go beyond grande — at Starbucks, first venti (lit. ’20’), then trenta (lit. ’30’). Gold or golden level, once the top of the line (above silver and bronze), will be out-done by even more excellent or desirable platinum, then maybe by still-better diamond.


BBC for Labor Day

September 1, 2017

(Men’s bodies and talk of mansex, unapologetic and carnal, in street language. So not for kids or the sexually modest. Not without linguistic interest, but still…)

The Michael Lucas gay porn firm has sent around its Labor Day sale ad, an exercise in minimalism. As I said in a posting on AZBlogX, where the hard-core stuff lives:


Kangaroo Paste, the Australian hair gel

August 10, 2017

Viewed the morning of the 8th, S2 E9 (“Bounty Hunters!”, 2007) of the tv series Psych, with several references to a (fictional) Australian hair gel for men, Kangaroo Paste, which the central character of the series, Shawn Spencer, really likes. This bit of mischievous product placement led quite a few people to ask where they could get the stuff.

For the record: there is an Aussie brand of hair-care products for women, which offers (among other things) Aussie Instant Freeze Gel, Aussie Instant Freeze Sculpting Gel, Aussie Instant Freeze Sculpting Mousse, Aussie Mega Gel, and Aussie Headstrong Volume Spray Gel (I have no idea how these products are distinguished from one another); and there is a product called Kangaroo Paste, but it’s a Korean shoe polish (a Korean knockoff of Kiwi Shoe Polish).

To come: the tv show (with a digression on the actor Kevin Sorbo); hair gel; the Aussie brand; Kangaroo Paste shoe polish (with a digression on compounds like Kangaroo Paste shoe polish); Kiwi Shoe Polish; and product placement.