Silk’s new tagline—such a beautifully subtle, effective little sleight.

As with most commercials, I don’t recall the content of the Silk commercial, other than the tagline. I’m sure I’m more susceptible to this kind of selective memory and perception than most, given what I do. In this case, As is often the case, with me at least, the rest of the content, aside from the tagline, is secondary, even inconsequential.

So, let’s talk about this tagline.

Silk Tastes Like Better

They could have just said Tastes Better. This would put them in the ranks of hundreds? Thousands? of other brands of food products. And it would have rendered the tagline impotent, meaningless and invisible.

But, in the simple act of transforming the adjective “better” into a noun, the tagline provides that little bump, that nanosecond of pause and replay in the brain that forces just the slightest engagement, the slightest bit of processing. And this, in turn, renders the tagline meaningful, visible, effective.

This is a device or strategy that is quite often used in taglines, treating adjectives like nouns or verbs, or nouns as verbs, etc. If done right, these give pause, trigger a double take, a second look, a moment of consideration. And if a tagline can do that, it has already succeeded. It has overcome the problem of invisibility.

But, back to the tagline in question, Tastes Like Better. It raises such an interesting question: What would/does “”better” taste like? This is a question that, almost certainly, no viewer of this tagline has ever considered. It’s a new thought. The tagline has, quite literally, considerable meaning—meaning that merits consideration. Whatever “better” tastes like, you’ve gotta figure it’s good, right?

For that accomplishment, alone, I tip my cap to the folks at Silk and their ad agency.

But wait, there’s more.

Two other things occur to me about this line, neither of which is probably intended by the author.

First, The sentence most closely resembling this tagline would probably be “Tastes like butter.” That’s just a one letter difference. Perhaps that thought is in there somewhere, subtextually, and if so, it likely is to the benefit of Silk, because, while the product is soy milk, an almost subliminal hint or suggestion of dairy-ness that the tagline might carry, probably enhances the appetizingness of the thought. Milk that tastes like butter, like buttermilk, oh so rich and creamy, mmmm . . .

If you think that is far-fetched, I can do it one better (or worse). If the tagline were punctuated a little differently, it would morph into, in effect, a testimonial by a somewhat inarticulate person.

Tastes . . . uh . . . like, uh . . . better. This read of the tagline suggests that it is a considered opinion, rendered after presumably reflecting back on the experience of drinking Silk.

Okay, cut me some slack here. After all, I did preface these last two comments with an acknowledgement that neither was probably intended. But I wouldn’t discount them completely. Don’t sell the brain short when it comes to bouncing language around in a non-rational fashion. This kind of musing goes on all the time in the dance between language and the brain.

Clearly, there are times when it’s tough to articulate just what it is about a tagline that makes it stand out. Nevertheless, it just does. This may be one of those. Or, perhaps I need to get out more.

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