On a recent trip to Costco I bought a box of RXBAR protein bars, which contain several healthful ingredients, none of which, according to the package, is bullshit. Good to know!
From the RXBAR website:
Guys who are into CrossFit would never indulge in B.S.
As you probably know from my periodic appearances in Strong Language, the sweary blog about swearing, I’m constantly on the lookout for sweary brand names and slogans. When I saw “No B.S.” on the RXBAR box, I remembered a similarly frank promise made earlier this year by Everlane, the “radical transparency” retailer.
Back in March, Everlane introduced its women’s underwear collection with an ad that spelled it out.
“No frills. No bows. No bullshit.”
“No bullshit” has been making inroads into the language of commerce for several years. In 2014, self-described “mad scientist” Ivan Savov published his No Bullshit Guide to Math & Physics. He followed it last year with the No Bullshit Guide to Linear Algebra.
True to their title, the No Bullshit guides don’t mince words. Here’s a page from Math & Physics.
Referring directly to bullshit in advertising – as opposed to one of the many synonyms and euphemisms catalogued by Mark Peters in Bullshit: A Lexicon (2015) – has not always been in fashion, or in good taste. The opening wedge may have been Newcastle Brown Ale’s 2012 “No Bollocks” ad campaign, which appeared only in the U.S. and which included television and outdoor ads.
Lynne Murphy, who blogs about American and British English at Separated by a Common Language (and whose new book, The Prodigal Tongue, is very good), declared bollocks the 2012 UK-to-US word of the year. She wasn’t entirely thrilled about the choice. Bollocks, she wrote, “has a good AmE equivalent in bullshit. At least, the use that has come into AmE has that equivalent. In BrE the word means ‘testicles’, and by some extension it is used to mean ‘nonsense’. But as is often the case for loanwords, the people borrowing it are not always aware of its other meanings, including the anatomical one.”
Once you allow bollocks into the public sphere, it’s a short slide to bullshit and thence to no bullshit. Which is where we are now. No kidding.
UPDATE, June 27: Female Union Films declares in its Twitter bio: “We only work with people who actively support women. No arseholes. No bullshit.” The logo is pretty frank, too.
I hate bullshit, but I’m a fan of “bullshit.” I think most feces-(and fart) related humor and invective is a guy thing. I might be wrong—it may be a bias, but B.S. seems out-of-place on a woman’s product ad.
Rather than being just plainspoken or funny, “Check this shit out” seems totally gratuitous in a Math for Dummies book.
As with “bollocks,” “schmuck” is a common word, originally (in Yiddish) with a more specific meaning than “jerk.” Although I have yet to seen it used in advertising.
Posted by: Dan Freiberg | May 24, 2018 at 03:32 PM