Friday, November 7, 2008

Advertising Slogan Semantics

The Virtual Linguist recently posted a list of the twenty most frequently used words found in advertising slogans in the last twenty years. I thought it might be fun to semantically analyze some of these word choices. The words (in order) are:

you, your, we, world, best, more, good, better, new, taste, people, our, first, like, don't, most, only, quality, great and choice.

1 and 2) The choices of the words you and your seems obvious and it is understandable that they are the first and second most popular; both words cause each and every person who reads or hears the slogan to feel that they are being addressed personally.
3 and 12) The word we (as in "you and me") causes each person to feel included and everybody wants to feel included. Similarly, our ("yours and mine") is inclusive semantically.
4, 5 and 6) The word world could also be thought of as inclusive because each person is part of the world (as in "we are the world"). However, I think it is probably the case that world as the place where we all live would be the more common semantic use in slogans. Which brings us to
the word best - we all want the best in the world of whatever it is that is being sold, and most people want even more of the best.
7) I would think that the use of the word good must occur in a slogan in the semantic sense of good versus bad and not good, better, best (the good, better, best sense implies that good is just acceptable).
8) In advertising the word new is used to mean better, therefore these two words are semantically equivalent.
9) When it comes to the word taste, there are two different semantic senses that slogans could be promoting - taste versus tasteless food wise (these pancakes taste great) or taste as in discrimination (his sense of taste is exhibited by the car he drives).
18) When the word quality is used as an adjective it refers to something that is excellent or superior; however, something can be poor quality if the word quality appears semantically as a noun.

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