“With A Name Like Smuckers, . . .”

“With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.” How many people who hear that famous advertising slogan note its humor?

The line’s usually delivered by a gravelly voiced actor who sounds homespun and avuncular, not ironic. But one imagines the first meeting of the advertisers who landed the Smucker’s account. Think of all the initial jokes about schmuck, and so forth. And then at some point, someone had the brilliant idea of telling the truth; with a name like Smucker’s, this company had better be selling something good! Probably most political slogans also pass by without getting much scrutiny.

No doubt Frank Luntz or someone in his business has amassed some statistics based on testing slogans on audiences. Some outlandish slogans must go almost unnoticed, or virtually un-criticized, perhaps not really even heard, by many audiences. Luntz is the alleged master of phraseology for the GOP, after all. His well known book is Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear. Luntz endorses the slippery use of language that George Orwell indicted in “Politics and the English Language.”

So an actor’s voice might say, “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good,” and, according to Luntz’s line of thinking, you don’t hear the irony or evidence of the advertiser’s initial despair; you hear a warm voice saying something nice about jam, and when you go to the store and see a jar of Smucker’s jam, you experience an emotion or a memory that may make you reach for that jar, almost like a Stepford Wife. . . .

. . . Some notable political slogans and monikers:

“Trickle-down economics.” Such economics were thought to be effective, but if you take a moment to analyze the phrase, you might begin to wonder about such economics. Suppose there’s plenty of water to make a farming valley productive, but one farmer controls all the water. He tells the other farmers, “Don’t worry. I’m going to let some water trickle down on your land!”

“In your heart, you know he’s right.” This one belonged to Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign, if memory serves. The double-entendre works well. We know Barry is correct, and we know he’s right (of center). However, might there be the wee implication that in our heads, or reasoning faculty, we know he’s not right?

Jimmy Carter’s campaign had “A Leader, For a Change.” Ah, the crucial comma. There is a residue of truth to the slogan; after all, Nixon was a bit busy with other things there at the end, when he should have been leading, and Ford was busy mopping up after Nixon. Later, more than a few people (apparently) had some doubts about Carter’s leadership.

“The Patriot Act.” (Sorry, Oakland Raider fans; this one has nothing to do with Walt Coleman’s infamous enforcement of “the tuck-rule” in a Raiders v. Patriots game.) Orwell might have cringed (we cannot know for sure) at the dastardly leverage the name of this Act creates. If you oppose the Act or any part of it, you get to be unpatriotic. Such a deal! Also, one might think that a Patriot Act somehow promotes patriotism, but wasn’t and isn’t the act all about security, including wire-tapping? Whether the wire-tapping is a good thing or a bad thing or a third thing, it is still wire-tapping and not a course of study in patriotism.  With a name like Patriot, it has to be good.

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One Response to ““With A Name Like Smuckers, . . .””

  1. wildbillhaltom Says:

    Yes, Luntz endorses abuse of language to distort and to mislead. He then compounds his betrayal of democracy by claiming that he pursues the same ends as Orwell. This rationalization, which Dr. Luntz has repeated in broadcasts, must be absurd to anyone familiar with Luntz’s record, his advice to the powerful, or his book.


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