Monday, 11 January 2010


People in advertising must be the most frustrated people of all. Lets look at it; you flog yourself all day, using all your creative energies. You wanted to be a writer, a poet, an auteur, something that might influence the world in some positive way, and after all your creative efforts you have produced four words. Four words to sell a product that you probably don't care about. In any way. You go home, you are mean to your wife, you ignore your children, and you pour yourself a stiff drink and you weep. You weep into your cashmere jumper from John Lewis. You son of a bitch.

With advertising, everything is about creating the most catchy and positive thing possible, with the added set back of having it be both short, and understandable by the unwashed masses of the world. Its exactly like "Newspeak" in George Orwell's 1984, in the sense that it is the reduction of words, the destruction of words that would give a negative slant or could be mis-construed, the smashing together of words to make new buzz words that make no sense whilst keeping simple and ambiguous in order to avoid those pesky legal ramifications due to misleading. In fact, the best adverts are the ones that adhere to the rules for newspeak set out in 1984.

A few examples of these include;

- Guinness: Guinness is good for you.

Straightforward, to the point, and in some ways, true, and has no negative appeal. It's saying "You know what, if you want it, its there" without pushing or prodding at us. Its simply saying that it will have a positive effect on our lives.

- Cambell's Condensed Soup: Soup is good food.

Again, this slogan does not boast, it is not forceful or dominating, it is simply stating a fact. The ambiguity of the slogan allows them to imply that their product is the one that is good, whilst taking no responsibility for the quality of their product whatsoever. Its a devious and cunning plan that I wholeheartedly love.

- Daily Mail: Its a newspaper, not a snoozepaper
Brilliant piece of advertising here. They have managed to compliment themselves whilst also insulting every other newspaper subversively, by implying that they put people to sleep, and at the same time they are cutting together words that should never be cut together in the first place (miniluv, anyone?). This one is particularly relevant in the sense that they are the media, and as such, have direct influence of their audience. They could chose to purge an unfortunate past, perhaps destroy any evidence of a pro-fascism stance or something...

- Oreo Biscuits: Only Oreo.

Now what the hell is that?! What is only Oreo? Oreos?! Well a round of applause, we never would have guessed. They have managed to give a catchy and memorable slogan without actually saying anything at all except for stating the fact that Oreos are indeed made from Oreos.

- Clairol: Does she or Doesn't she?

Does she or doesn't she WHAT?! Breathe? Eat? Talk on the phone? Go on long distance flights?! It is so ambiguous it means literally nothing. It is a finely tuned and edited sentence that has no purpose except to be slapped onto the end of the word "Clairol". It is disgusting.

- Walls Sausages: I'm meaty, fry me.
This is in here because in this campaign, Walls have successfully created an anthropomorphic sausage. That's got to deserve a mention. And I think thats funny.

- Subway: Eat Fresh.

Possibly the best example of a newspeak slogan I could find. It is the mac-daddy of Orwellian thinking, with the least words possible, the gluing together of terms and the fact that it contains no negative terms. Everybody likes to eat. Everybody should like freshness, therefore there is nothing to hate about it. And the problem is, subway sandwiches are so god-damned delicious, noone could hate them anyway.

- Apple: Think Different.

Another brilliant one. Its innovative and simple, and appeals to its audience. However, a few holes in the plan are that for a small part of the population, thinking makes people scared and difference makes people angry. That's a demographic they are never going to tap.

Advertising makes me sad. It makes me think of how our culture has become exclusively driven by these depressed madmen on a mission to sell us the latest fad. Its the degeneration of language into simple two word slogans. It starts with advertising, and it ends with the destruction of civil liberties. Having said all that, I like Guinness, I own an Apple Mac, and I love Subway, so perhaps I am not the best warrior against the impending Big Brother.

Then again, are any of us?
We're Doomed.

1 comment:

Chris Horrie said...

Excellent work - hard to remember that within my adult lifetime Guiness used to advertise that alcohol was actually good for your health. That is now THOUGHTCRIME. Very good work and a great pity that this blog has an Alexa ranking of only 7.5 million. You need to learn SEO and get a bigger audience - at least in the top 1 million. I think the WINOL team need to sign you up as a blogger linked from the WINOL site and also have you in the studio as a pundit (winol is in the 200,000) Consistently intelligent and well informed comment on this blog - also well written witty. I actually look forward to reading it! There's lots of other good blogs but this is one of the outstanding one.