Here’s one of the Verizon “Better Matters” ads currently papering the Montgomery BART station in San Francisco:
“A better network is better.”
“Well, of course better is better,” you may be thinking with a twinge of annoyance. (“Some copywriter got overpaid for that?”) Ah, but there’s more to the slogan than meets the eye.
“Redundant adjectives are adjective” – sometimes expressed as “X Y is X” – is an Internet meme* that spread through gaming forums, LOLcats, and social media. According to Know Your Meme, the formula was inspired by a line of dialogue uttered by Ralph Wiggum in Season 11 of The Simpsons: “Fun toys are fun!”
The fateful episode, “The Grift of the Magi,” originally aired on December 19, 1999.
Other examples of the formula submitted to Know Your Meme:
“Obvious troll is obvious” is a classic of the genre.
For authenticity, Verizon should have dropped the article in front of “Better Network Is Better.” But that may have tested the Internet-savvy of its customers, who after all have been limping along with Worse Network Is Worse.
That’s Verizon’s new logo in the BART ad, by the way; it was designed by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut of Pentagram – a megastar in the world of brand identity – and introduced in September. Read a critique on the Brand New blog.
In October I wrote about other linguistic tropes exploited by advertisers (including a different one from Verizon).