Why Pay More to Sweat Less

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 31 10:00:16 UTC 2011

I don't think our interpretations are that different, actually. Your
statement in the first paragraph is missing the imperative based on the
slogan--the underlying assumption is that they want you to buy their
product /even/ if it's not as effective as other products (which is what
you seem to be saying in the second). Why? /Because/ it's cheaper! You
simply did not specify the second step, which is more cultural than
lexical. (Social anthropology over philology, if you wish.)

Suave shampoo is far more effective in conveying the message, "Our
bargain brand is just as effective as the designer brands, but it costs
much less". Objective truth is irrelevant here, but the perception frame
is that one should not spend more money to get marginally better--if at
all better!--results.

In the end, it all goes back to the old jokes concerning the distinction
between "cheap" and "inexpensive".


On 10/31/2011 5:36 AM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
> Hmmm, I got a different meaning for the first "obvious" interpretation. I took it as i.e., our inexpensive product isn't as good as the more expensive ones. So perhaps there are three interpretations.
> Also, while the riff is probably important, too, I think just as important is the expectation of what an advertisement will say. And that drives the listener to the ultimate conclusion, whichever of VS's interpretations results. I understood the other one to be the intended meaning, perhaps influenced by my memory of the deodorant/antiperspirant product commercial wars of the 1970s.
> Benjamin Barrett
> Seattle, WA
> On Oct 31, 2011, at 1:57 AM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>> There are two conflicting interpretations here. First, you have the
>> obvious--don't pay more /even/ if you want to sweat less (i.e., our
>> cheap product provides a perfectly adequate protection). The second, and
>> the one they were going after--you don't need to pay more to sweat less
>> (i.e., our cheap product is just as effective as the fancier guys). An
>> additional fact is that the advertiser appears to be riffing off "Why
>> pay more for less?" But the semantics of these two slogans do not match
>> at all. /That/ seems to be the source of confusion--our expectation of
>> the more common slogan drives us toward the first interpretation rather
>> than the second. And the first interpretation is obviously contrary to
>> the intent.
>>    VS-)

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list