Anadin, Brexit, Hard Brexit, No deal is better than a bad deal, Nothing acts faster than Anadin, Theresa May
Yesterday, in a much-anticipated speech, Theresa May laid out her terms for leaving the European Union stating that her plan is to exit the Common Market and the Customs Union, regain full control of the UK ‘s borders and immigration policies, and sever our subservience to the European Courts: in other words, a hard Brexit. Be that as it may (no pun intended). What interested me was her warning to the EU negotiators—”No deal is better than a bad deal.” What did she mean? That “no deal” i.e. a walk-away from the negotiation table, is better than a bad deal? Or that there is no deal better than a bad deal therefore she’ll accept a bad deal? Her phrase is ambiguous although I assume, and hope, she meant she’ll walk away from a bad deal rather than accept it.
Her statement reminded me of the now infamous 1955 advertising slogan for the painkiller Anadin—”Nothing acts faster than Anadin”—as a result of which many people decided to take nothing rather than buy Anadin. Nothing was both cheaper and faster.
What the company should have said is “Try our pain killers; you won’t get better!”
I’d like to say how much I enjoyed this short blog, Ben.
Ben Bennetts said:
Thanks Mario. I am amazed that Theresa May’s scriptwriters did not spot this ambiguity in what was obviously meant as a statement for the press to seize upon and use as a headline. The Anadin-slogan ambiguity is often quoted (by me, anyway) as an example of a possible mis-interpretation. There are others. One I particularly like is “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”, circa 1960s in the UK by Electrolux. That wouldn’t work in the USA! Another is Somerfield Supermarket’s “What will you swipe?” slogan when they introduced their Big Swipe Prize Campaign at checkout counters in 2005. That one sounds like an invitation to shoplift!
I bet Lynne Truss spotted it.
Another one Ben which befuddles me is ‘second to none’ ?????
Ben Bennetts said:
Second to none? Yes, an interesting idiom, used by Shakespeare in his Comedy of Errors (Angelo, Act 5, Scene 1). Literally, the expression means second to no-one which, I agree, is somewhat nonsensical but I hinted at the ambiguity of none/no-one meaning someone in my article on double negatives, quod vide. In any case, Second to None (Nulli Secundus) is the motto of the Coldstream Guards and I wouldn’t want to argue with that lot!