September 07, 2007

For those of you who don't subscribe to my Flickr stream

...two advertisements, with comments.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have synesthesia. It sounds kind of fascinating, even though some synesthetes report that what sounds sort of like a superpower to me can be irritating when they're receiving conflicting sensory information -- like, if they associate a word with a particular color, and then the word is printed in the wrong color, it bugs them. Anyway, when I saw this ad, I knew what they meant:


I don't have synesthesia, but as a New Yorker, I do have strong color associations for white numbers surrounded by colored circles -- especially when they appear on an ad on a subway platform -- and 2's are not supposed to be black, and 7's are not supposed to be red. It's very disorienting.

Also along similar "making my brain unhappy" lines, there's this ad, which substitutes various world currency symbols for letters in the text:


Now, that's all well and good, but why is the symbol for the British pound replacing an E and not an L? If there were no L's in the ad, I could see someone saying, "Well, that horizontal line sort of looks like the crossbar of an E, let's just go for it." But there are two perfectly good L's in "Wall Street" just sitting there! Mystifying.

Posted by Francis at 11:57 AM

Driving through New York, I saw an ad similar to the latter on a billboard. Similar--same pitch, but different text, and I believe that the text on that one didn't have an "L" in it. So it's possible that they wrote the text for one, said, "We have no L's, let's put the pound-sign in for an E," and then kept doing that in variant copy.

Mind you, the fact that I can tell you this about a billboard we drove past (admittedly, it may have been a slow drive in traffic, but still) means that the cognitive dissonance was strong enough to make me think through the ad text to see if there was an "L" in it, and remember it a week later. Honestly, guys, rewrite the ad line so it has an L in it.

Posted by: Lance at September 7, 2007 12:52 PM

Agreed 100% about the numbers.

And I'm still trying to figure out why anyone would go to see a GRSSK anything.

Posted by: Rhu/nmHz at September 7, 2007 02:34 PM


Posted by: Francis at September 7, 2007 02:51 PM

When "My Big fat Greek Wedding" came out, they replaced the Es in "GREEK" with sigmas. And they're not the only ones. (I think "Enemy of the State" did the same thing.) My brain insisted on seeing them as 'S'.

Posted by: Rhu/nmHz at September 7, 2007 03:04 PM

I think I would have used the £ as the first L in WALL and the € as the E in TICKET. There's no reason to have two symbols in STREET and none in WALL.

I also think I would have used the symbols for any other currencies I could possibly squeeze in, because I love that kind of thing. The crossed R they use for the rupee, which I've also seen used for the Brazilian real (though it's wrong) is the only one that comes to mind.

Posted by: kostia at September 7, 2007 07:12 PM

I had to look at the first ad three times to figure out that those numbers represented a date. It is amazing how hard-wired we are to read those as subway lines gone horribly wrong.

Posted by: Dianna at September 10, 2007 12:12 PM

Er, pet peeve: we're by no means hardwired to read them as subway lines, as evidenced by the fact that those of us not from New York don't have any trouble with them. (I actually looked and suspected that they were intended to echo subway lines, but of course I didn't see anything wrong with them.) "Hardwired" would mean "there's something innate in the brain"; instead, New Yorkers have been trained to read them as subway lines. (Or you could say "softwired", if such a word were in currency, and of course "currency" brings us right back on topic.)

Posted by: Lance at September 11, 2007 05:47 PM

Lance, don't you know that New Yorkers are androids? "Hard-wired" is meant literally.

Posted by: Jim at September 13, 2007 01:13 PM

We prefer "replicants".

Posted by: Francis at September 13, 2007 01:22 PM
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