About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Liz Walter
half an hour of web ads by dno1967b on flickr

When British writer Norman Douglas wrote in 1917 that ‘you can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements’, he probably never imagined just how far that theory would be tested in the following century. While some advertisers have been content with pithy catchphrases and addictive jingles, others have pushed the boundaries of taste and social mores to their limits in their search for the arresting image that will imprint a product’s name into the consumer’s mind. Possibly the most famous (or notorious) examples were those of the fashion firm Benetton, which provoked outrage in the 1990s with images that included a man dying from AIDS and a nun kissing a priest.

In a less shockable age, it is difficult to imagine a similar advertising campaign having such an impact, but instead new techniques are being used.  Attack ads used to be only used by…

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