Thursday, May 10, 2012

Phrasal Templates in Advertising

Driving on the expressway recently, I passed a truck bearing a particular phrase. Most drivers would probably write it off as an eponymous company name and not give it any more thought. My language-loving, word-playing brain wouldn't let it go so quickly however. 

Image from: Rich Logistics
Above is what I saw, below is what I thought: 

Rich logistics, poor genetics
Rich logistics, poor athletics
Rich logistics, poor statistics
Rich logistics, poor aesthetics
Rich logistics, poor didactics
Rich logistics, poor schematics

And the list could go on and on.

These phrasal coordinations are based on the well-known and snowclone-able phrase "often imitated, never duplicated".

According to the Phrase Finder, "often imitated (but) never duplicated" has been "used in a lot of different ad copy back to the 1920's but it doesn't seem to have been a trademarked slogan exclusive to one product or company."

Snowclones of "often imitated, never duplicated" that I have seen include "big taste, small budget" and "cold beer, hot food". I'm sure there are many more too; so, please feel free to share additional examples in comments.

A semantic analysis of the snowclone: "desriptor + descriptee, desriptor + descriptee" 
Note: Descriptors in the coordinations must be antonyms

A syntactic analysis of the snowclone: "Adj + Noun, Adj + Noun" or "Adverb + Verb, Adverb + Verb"

My apologies to Rich Logistics; it is all in good fun. 

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