I’m a big believer in advertising not only being honest but also unambiguous. Take the Ronseal adverts, whose products did “exactly what it says on the tin”. No messing, no confusion, just plain facts. You know where you stand.
Some years ago in Aberdeen, I remember being struck by the tagline of one of the bakery companies in the city. I can’t remember which one it was, but they branded themselves as “one of Scotland’s better bakers”. What a rubbish slogan, I thought. To say that you are one of Scotland’s better bakers means only that you are in the top half. Moreover, by not being any more precise than simply “better”, there is no mention of whereabouts in that top half you are and thus you leave yourself open to being at the very bottom of that top half.
“One of Scotland’s better bakers”, then, could quite easily and indeed more accurately be translated as “Potentially, anything up to 49% of Scotland’s bakers are better than us.” Not a very positive message, but that is in effect what they were saying all along.
This train of thought pulled out of the sidings once more earlier today, when I walked past a billboard advertising a perfume. Again, I don’t recall which product. Such is the joys of living with no television, I think I have over the years become quite immune to the messages of advertising gurus. Anyway, the tagline of the perfume was “As captivating as you are”.
“But what if I’m not very captivating?” I wondered to myself. Logically, there are only two ways that the tagline could be accurate: firstly, if each bottle was pre-prepared according to the captivatingness of each purchaser; or secondly if it makes no difference at all. Surely only the latter can be true, and so the tagline “Makes no difference to how captivating you are” would be a much more honest, accurate translation.
Can anyone else think of any claims made by advertisers that really ought to be translated into plainer English?