Because it just won't let some things go. I heard a radio commercial this morning for some sort of motorcycle (I think) and the slogan was "Because life happens between empty and full."

What the hell does that mean? That life only happens when you're standing at the fuel pump? Because that's the time between empty and full. Um, sure, I guess the Grim Reaper does not stalk the land while I'm filling my tank, but isn't that an incredibly trite observation? If they're touting the joys of the bike, shouldn't it be "Life happens between full and empty" i.e. the only time you're living a life worth having is when you're burning fossil fuel?

And I'm not making this up, I didn't mishear it, and others apparently feel the same way, I see. Oh well. It was too much to hope for that I'd had an original thought. Back to the grind.

(and come to Calgary on the May long weekend! You will obey!)


  1. Terry said...

    Well, saying "Life happens between full and empty" is actually pretty depressing when you think about it. It's like you're born full of possibility, but then eventually become an empty, bitter husk.

    I suspect the original slogan was that way, then focus groups said it sounded depressing, so some bright ad exec said "Let's just switch them! That way, it seems like you get fuller instead of emptier".

    And the fact that ad exec probably makes 10 times what I make is why I cry myself to sleep at night...  

  2. cenobyte said...

    Actually, I think it means what happens between the time when you're not pregnant, and the time when you're about to give birth. What better way to market directly to women of childbearing years? Because everyone knows, there's nothing sexier than a pregnant chick on a crotch rocket.



    The majority of ad *writers*, probably make 1/3 of what you make. If they're lucky. Ad execs don't actually come up with the good stuff - they kaibosh all the good ideas and say "how about we try..." to their clients, and bascially leave the writers out of the loop.  

  3. Terry said...

    I wasn't talking about ad *writers*! Poor pathetic bastards. Thinking they could make a living with the written word.

    No, I specifically mentioned ad execs in my post, because even the feeblest ad writer would've said "Uh, but if you flip it now it's not the same meaning..."  

  4. Amy said...

    OK, maybe I'm hopelessly literal, but the ad was in the context of motor vehicles so the meaning of "empty" and "full" was pretty clear. Apparently it's a gasoline company slogan that's been up at gas stations too. The radio ad I heard was offering a motorcycle as a prize in some sort of contest. Gas tanks, people. Not life, uteruses (uteri?) or anything else. Sheesh.

    Amy the empty bitter husk  

  5. Terry said...

    "maybe I'm hopelessly literal, but the ad was in the context of motor vehicles"

    You're kind of scaring me here... Are you trying to tell me that madison avenue slogans are intended to be taken literally?

    Reaching past the idea that slogans like “Where do you want to go today?” (Microsoft) was ever meant to be taken literally, are you implying that "Just do it." (Nike) or "The antidote for civilization." (Club Med) or “The quicker picker-upper.” (Bounty) just off the top of my head are only intended literally? Hell no. They were intended to cause you to remember a product, make a positive association and feel 'good' about whatever they were selling.

    "Do it" - active and compelling. Words like "antidote" implying curing and healing. And there's a very good reason Bounty is the "picker -upper" instead of the literal "sucker-upper".

    And subconciously, "Empty to Full" is much more upbeat and positive than "Full to Empty" in any connotation.

    Aren't you the one who used to read Adbusters? Shouldn't you be explaining this stuff to me?  

  6. Amy said...

    Of course there're hidden connotations to ads. Ads are all about social engineering. But when an advertiser feels that they can ignore what they're actually saying and concentrate purely on these connotations, I will fight them valiantly through mockery and bitching.

    The examples you gave don't contradict their literal meanings:

    - "Just Do it" is active and compelling... and vague enough to mean anything. "Just do it; buy our product." Fine. No problem here, semantically. All ads boil down to this, after all.

    - "Words like "antidote" imply curing and healing." No, the word "antidote" means curing and healing. The idea of a vacation curing/healing you? Not so bad, though of the ones you listed I have the biggest issue with this since not many people need to be "cured" of civilisation. Quite the opposite, in my experience.

    - And there's a very good reason Bounty is the "picker -upper" instead of the literal "sucker-upper." Yep, there is. The full phrase is "the quicker picker upper." The internal rhyme is the main reason for that word choice, I'd say. Secondary reason is the manifold meanings of the word "suck." Again, I have no problem with their choosing "picker-upper" out of the many options describing the action of the towel. I have no problem with their choosing one with the connotations of "pick-me-up". That's really not what I'm on about here.

    I guess this is just the logical progression of those ads that don't even show the product (jeans and perfume being the most egregious examples). At least those were just relying on "if you don't understand this ad, you're not cool enough for this product; go on, prove us wrong by buying it! G'wan!"  

  7. Suz said...

    I will obey.  

  8. Drang said...

    Damn! Now I'm going to have "The Quicker Sucker Upper" going through my head for at least a week. I'll giggle at inappropriate moments (moreso, anyway) and be completely unable to explain without the likelyhood of having my poster put on neighbourhood notice boards with a warning to keep your kids away from me. "No, really! I was talking about paper towels!"  

  9. Smarty Pants said...

    "Of course there're hidden connotations to ads. Ads are all about social engineering."

    I think you're giving us "poor, pathetic bastards" more credit than we deserve by far. I think what happened in this case was some poor slob who's trying to make a living on a keyboard (using the letter part of it), just got so focussed on being "hip and clever" that it's real meaning was overlooked. The suits and pitch-monkies just see dollar signs and didn't grasp it either.
    It's simply a small, dumb mistake, IMHO...not a dark conspiracy by the Evil Psyonic Ad Writing Hordes.  

  10. Paul said...

    At 2:12 PM, Amy said...

    OK, maybe I'm hopelessly literal,

    Yes, you are.

    It's just an ad.

    It's not supposed to be logical as the target audience probably didn't study logic.

    Breathe In.

    Breathe Out.


    Switch to Decaf for a while.  

  11. Amanda said...

    Can I make a request for more knitting content on your blog? Pretty please? With pictures?

    Also, I'm moving to edmonton on the 22nd - will probably be stressed out beyond belief, and hysterically freaking out about not having a job, but will be staying with r & l. Are you coming to edmonton too or just calgary?  

  12. Amy said...

    I'll e-mail ya, Manda.

    And more knitting content, I hear you ask? Hrmmmm... we'll see what we can do...  

  13. amanda said...


  14. Brennan said...


    This reminds me of a fun little something I came across a whiles back.

    Empty, Full

    It had to be a cached copy because the original has been obliterated by some internet bomb. I can't imagine why.  

  15. neuba said...

    LOL!!!! That's awesome B. I read the whole book. Priceless.  

  16. Ryan said...

    I'm glad to see that that "empty and full" line annoys someone else besides just me. It almost annoys me as much as the new phrase "mid-century modern" which interior designers are using to describe '50s furniture and design. Ick.  


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