Here’s a twofer: a full-page ad from Corning in the January 22 New York Times Sunday Magazine that features a snowclone and a nouning.
(For new visitors to Fritinancy: a snowclone is a particular type of formulaic cliché, the original of which was “If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have Y words for Z.” Scores of snowclones have been documented; for a comprehensive list, see the Snowclone Database. I’ve written from time to time about snowclones in advertising.)
The snowclone here is “X just got better,” a formula frequently employed by headline writers short on time and imagination. (“The Best Flying Toy Just Got Better”; “Your Chances of Getting Hired Just Got Better”; “Dodge Ball Just Got Better.”) It has also made it into the trademark database. Here are some of the slogans I spotted:
Garlic Just Got Better (for a distributor of black garlic)
Breastfeeding Just Got Better (for nursing bras)
Your Weather Just Got Better (for Weatherbug, a forecasting service)
Beef Just Got Better (for Tomer Kosher Foods)
Life Just Got Better (for home entertainment and security systems)
Bigger Just Got Better (for Taco Bell)
Pleasure Just Got Better (for the Trojan Vibrating Mini Personal Massager)
A Great Car Wash Just Got Better (for Country Stores Wash-n-Fill Express)
Fishing Just Got Better (for a maker of fishing lures)
Wrestling Just Got Better (for Full Speed Productions)
My favorite variation, though, comes from the dead trademark database: “The Oldest Virgin Around Just Got Better.” It was registered to the California Olive Corporation between 1997 and 2005. The California Olive Corporation is (was?) doing business in Salem, Massachusetts, which makes no sense at all unless witchcraft was involved.
Sometimes “easier” replaces “better” in the “X Just Got Y-er” formula: Photo Editing Just Got Easier, Local Searching Just Got Easier, Home Networking Just Got Easier, and this crudely funny twist that uses emojis: Sexting Just Got Easier.
In all of these examples, “just” is a constant: It suggests breaking news, breathlessly imparted. Get it while it’s hot!
As for the nouning in the Corning ad, it’s the use of “tough” as shorthand for “the quality of toughness.” This particular adjective-as-noun device has been turning up a lot in ads lately. See, for example, Lexus’s “Engineering Amazing,” AT&T’s “Rethink Possible,” and Chex Mix’s “A Bag of Interesting.” On the American Dialect Society’s email list, Jonathan Lighter recently noted “Leave ordinary behind” (for South Africa tourism), “Tired sucks” (for 5-Hour Energy drinks), and this string of nouned adjectives in a Grant Thornton ad:
“Genuine wins. Uncommon wins. Original wins.”
(Ad from here.)
Back to the Corning ad: Although the headline recycles a shopworn formula and the photography is cluttered and confusing (reflections! gradients! bananas!), I admire the name and the concept. “Gorilla Glass” is a vivid and effective apposition of strength and fragility, and the alliteration makes it fun to say. This brand is a gorilla in the room that isn’t likely to be overlooked.