Archive for the ‘Language of advertising’ Category

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.

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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.)

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Words as weapons, images as ideas

August 6, 2017

Illustrators go to war:

(#1) Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion, Stanford, 4/5/17 – 9/2/17

Visited on July 19th, with Juan Gomez. Extensive report follows.

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Annals of sweetness

August 2, 2017

Now showing on tv, a brief ad spot “Tea Party with Dad & Mr. Bentley” for Minute Maid Premium Fruit Punch, with the — um — punch line:

Minute Maid is born from the goodness of fruit.

(You can watch the commercial here.)

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The company darling

July 16, 2017

(Another underwear ad, with my caption. Steamy topic, but not, I think, over the line.)

(#1) The company darling

Eddie found the company’s
Dress code peculiar, but he
Loved wearing the silky blue
Hooded lounge robe and
Scanty briefs at his desk.

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pretzel dog

July 13, 2017

It’s about the N + N compound pretzel dog, and its many possible understandings: a dog that delivers pretzels, a dog that likes pretzels, a dog twisted into the shape of a pretzel (or merely contorted), a dog-like object made of pretzels, and so on.

If I tell you that the dog in pretzel dog is to be understood as short for hot dog ‘frankfurter’, you’ll come up with another set of possible understandings: a contorted hot dog, a hot dog with pretzel bits on it, a frankfurter-like object made of pretzels, and so on. But unless you’ve actually experienced something marketed as a pretzel dog (at a Sonic Drive-In or from the Auntie Anne’s company, say), you probably woudn’t think of interpreting pretzel as a reference to pretzel dough. But that’s where we’re going.

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The running of the bulldogs

July 13, 2017

In the latest series (“It’s Not Surprising”) of GEICO tv ads, “Running of the Bulldogs”, with its silly play on the running of the bulls. A screen shot:

(#1)

Description from iSpot.tv:

Men in white run for their lives through the streets of Spain. As one of them falls and begs for his life, the menace chasing them comes running around the corner — a herd of slobbering bulldogs. The fallen man braces for impact and gets a good licking.

That’s what bulldogs do: faced with people down on the street, they rush to lavish affection on them by licking their faces.

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