If you are only half paying attention to the above Verizon FiOS commercial below, you may think you are hearing some bad language, but in reality, it is just some minor risqué wordplay.

Wordplay is nothing new in the world of advertising – and it can be a clever way for brands get the attention of consumers. Remember last year’s K-Mart “I Shipped My Pants” commercials? What about the 2011 campaign by Sheets Energy Strips – said to be one of the worst campaigns of the year by Adweek, the ad copy featured the phrase “I take a sheet” followed by one of many conclusions, including “in the pool.” Pitbull was even willing to “take a sheet on stage.” Vulgar, yes, and probably inappropriate. But people talked about it and remember it.

Luckily, the new Verizon FiOS commercials don’t venture down the bodily functions path.  Some of the mildly humorous lines include:

“Someone did a half fast job posting vacation pics.”

“When I post my slow jams, I’m a little half fast.”

“So his homework won’t be so half-fast.”

The anything-but-half-assed Verizon commercial is an example of homophonic reflexive wordplay, in which words of similar sounds become puns. “Half-fast” (half-assed, when spoken vs. written – especially if spoken quickly) and “I shipped my pants” (vs. the obvious) let family friendly brands like Verizon and Kmart don an air of edginess.

How far can brands like this push the envelope to stay relevant and break through to new audiences without alienating their current customer base? I guess sales will tell. Meanwhile, I hope this grabbed your ad-tention. And don’t sheet your pants, I didn’t write this blog post half-fast or ship my pants in the process.

~ Courtney Manders, Account Executive, The S3 Agency

Team S3
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