Is the importance of linguistic content in video advertising diminishing and does this matter?

Maynard says: ‘Chew chew chew chew…’Maynard says chew

This will never not be weird.

It seems to me that whenever we now see an advertising campaign, especially when in the online or video–format, the actual linguistic content and its importance becomes belittled. That’s not to say that the linguistic content of these adverts are not necessary, but rather that the emphasis is placed more on the bizarre imagery of the advert in the pursuit of a viral success.

Bizarre, you say? Take for example the very famous 2009 Cadbury ‘Eyebrow’ advert. This advert was very popular due to its parody-inspiring children moving their eyebrows impressively in time with Freestyle’s `Don’t Stop the Rock’ whilst waiting to have their school picture taken: . A minute later the advert simply ends with `A glass and a half full of joy`; the Cadbury’s slogan  leaving you a little confused and amazed at the same time, especially after seeing the advert for the first time. At this point, you are now more distracted with the fact that you can’t make your eyebrows move that fast and ending up looking like a James Bond impression with a face full of trapped nerves.

My point being that the viral nature of an advertisement is more important than attention to the actual product itself – clearly, dancing eyebrows don’t usually have a connection with chocolate or… fame. It does rather seem that the entire point of the advertisements is more for the conversation afterwards between you and your friends:

`Have you seen that eyebrow advert? `

All of Cadbury’s adverts since 2009 this eccentric all-purple approach following the success of the eyebrows adverts (on fleek?) from men in tiny purple cars to hairdressers smashing chocolate. The entire purpose of the advert is to baffle you with a minute or less of strangeness so that you feel like you have to talk about it to everyone you know.

eyebrows on point

Eyebrow game strong?

Another good example is 2010’s `Maynard says chew`, an advert for Maynard Wine Gums; There is actual speech in this advert however, it consists of only one word; Chew. This ad follows people about their normal day-to-day business before they encounter a stuffed moose head which then proceeds to hypnotise them into chewing their wine gums as if he’s the long lost touchy-feely cousin of Futurama’s Hypotoad.

laser owl

Laser owls!

Fast forward 5 years and this is still a very popular advertising method. See Ribena’s new ad, `You Can’t Get Any more Ribenary`: As some of the many features of this advert is owls shooting lasers from their eyes wearing helicopter hats and I think you would agree this ad is of a similar bizarre calibre. In fact, the advert is so busy with flying blackcurrants, owls and bunny rabbits that it makes the ad easier to re-watch. The most-catchy aspect is definitely the music and after watching it 15 times, you’ll be humming the nonsensical lyrics too– zoobydoo zoobydoo…

Adverts have always had an air of oddness to them at points, but the influence of the internet and social media sharing has had to have had an effect. Perhaps with the rise of social media and the influence of the internet on commercialism, the visionary aspects of an advert have the most effect and this is just the winning format for success.

With this in mind, can it really be said to be a bad thing and does it actually matter? Often the more bizarre an advert, the more entertaining it is, the more likely it is to receive a positive response. What the ever changing nature of adverts does bring is new levels of creativity and diversity to advertising and a real-world scenario where a marketing executive can seriously suggest, `yeah, but what if the owls also shot Ribena-emitting lasers from their eyes? ` What’s not to like about that?



Image sources:, ,

Word of the Week – Friday 13th Edition


There is a lot suspicion and superstition surrounding Friday 13th and indeed, the number 13 itself. We don’t really know why. There are theories but for some it is simply unlucky and for others it simply isn’t. Regardless of your superstitions, here are some fantastic and strangely named phobias for just that!

First of all, the fear of the number 13:


Secondly, the fear of Friday the 13th:

‘paraskevidekatriaphobia’ or ‘friggatriskaidekaphobia’

Don’t ask us which you should be using because either way,  you are going to need good luck with that pronunciation, yeesh.



Sourced from: – check out this site for other interesting `satirical` linguistics content.

Image sourced from:

Spoonerisms: Getting Your Words Mixed Up


By Joe Saunders

As children, we gradually grasp of our language, learn how to use it properly and how to pronounce our words clearly and succinctly. This is usually the case, anyway, unless you’re like me and frequently suffer from a complete and utter brainmelt halfway through your speech, coming out with an embarrassing slip like ‘flat cap’ instead of ‘cat flap’, or ‘flutterby’ instead of ‘butterfly’. However, interestingly enough there’s a term for this linguistic phenomenon: named after William Archibald Spooner, such slips are known as ‘spoonerisms’. They involve the switching of sounds or syllables, typically between two-word phrases or compounds, giving an effect not entirely dissimilar from Cockney rhyming slang. As you would expect, it can create some rather odd combinations. A few examples are given below:

‘Car park’ –> ‘Par cark’ (Apparently this one featured particularly heavily in my childhood – oops.)

‘It’s pouring with rain’ –> ‘It’s roaring with pain’  

‘Cat flap’ –> ‘Flat cap’

‘Block of flats’ –> ‘Flock of bats’

‘I’m going to cook the chicken’ –> ‘I’m going to kick the chooken’ (A family favourite, this one.)

‘Bad salad’ –> ‘Sad ballad’

‘A pack of lies’ –> ‘A lack of pies’

‘Foul beast’ –> ‘Bowel feast’

‘Popcorn’ –> ‘Cop porn’

Spoonerisms are usually accidental, slipping out when your brain is running faster than your mouth, but if you want to be a true “Spoonerist” then you could always try a few in everyday speech. You might get a few weird looks, though.

Heard any spoonerisms recently? Give us a tweet or comment on our Pacebook fage!

Prescriptivist or descriptivist: Where do you fit in?

by Joe Saunders

Whether you know it or not, you, like the rest of us, will have your own opinion on language use. Do you think certain things are ‘right’ whilst others are very much ‘wrong’? Or are you more accepting – watching, listening, but not judging? In the glorious realm of linguistics, there are names for these two perspectives: prescriptivism and descriptivism.

Put simply, prescriptivists are concerned with the regulation of a language and the prevention of change or deviation from a standardised or `proper` form. A good example is L’Académie français, an organisation set up to moderate and ‘purify’ the French language.

The descriptivist stand-point is very different; descriptivists are interested in observing and recording language change and any linguistic phenomena. Generally, descriptivism is the more interesting standpoint, as it often involves looking behind differences in language use and investigating trends rather than resisting or disregarding them. As anyone who is studying or has studied ELL will know, this is the perspective taken by linguists – which is just as well, as we wouldn’t really have much to talk about otherwise.

Not sure what your standpoint is on language? Take our highly sophisticated quiz:

Do you have any of the following symptoms?

  • Extreme anger at certain aspects of language use.
  • Correcting other people’s language in public and online.
  • Losing control of your face and inadvertently scowling when you come across certain spellings and/or applications of grammar.
  • You can understand this: “je pense que tu aurais dû dire ‘tu es’ “

If you have all four then you are probably a prescriptivist, hate change and should see a doctor. If not, then you probably lean more towards the descriptivist viewpoint and can happily continue learning Dohvazul in your spare time (Zu’u lost ven ahk pogaas tiid nau dii haal…).

In all seriousness though, people’s views on language and language use has an effect on variation and the way that our language evolves – or doesn’t evolve. I myself am a descriptivist and hate to see language creativity die, but which do you agree with more?