The following magazine ad is one of 27 that have been nominated for an MPA Kelly Award for outstanding magazine advertising.
The ad copy reads as follows:
When you take steroids, there's no hiding it. Eventually everyone will see you for what you really are. A fake. A fraud. An asterisk.
Linguistically, this advertising campaign is one of the best I have seen of late. The tagline for the campaign (which doubles as the web address) makes outstanding use of syllabification, phonetics, and semantics to deliver a double message that really reinforces the negatives of using steroids.
Semantically, when it comes to sports, an asterisk is associated with a footnote to an athlete's record. In other words, if an athlete sets a record but is found to have been using steroids during the time the record was set, the athlete will be thought of as a fake and a fraud and the record will not be respected.
Phonetically, when reading the tagline and breaking it up into syllables, the word asterisk lends part of itself to another well known phrase, "don't be an ass," which provides for a second semantic interpretation of the tagline.
In sum, the syllabification, phonetics and semantics involved in the tagline of this ad campaign send two messages to athletes who uses steroids: (1) they are at risk of having an asterisk attached to any records they set, and (2) they are asses.