An Open Letter to the Masters of the English Language 6
I had a bowl of canned soup at work a few days ago, and as I was slurping it down I pondered, “Does this soup actually eat like a meal?”
And then I pondered, “What the flap am I saying?”
Soups, of course, don’t eat (unless you go far, far afield from the standard recipes. I’m sure there are some Baba Yaga tales about enchanted soups that eat naughty Slavic children.)
So why does this slogan, which Campbell’s has used for three decades now, make sense at all? Why can I understand that Campbell’s means this soup will fill me up like a meal would, as opposed to other soups, which are dainty liquid amuse-bouches before the plat principal?
I suppose it’s the power of context. I look at that sentence and I can’t imagine what else it what mean for a soup to eat, so I instinctively understand it must really be referring to my perception of what it would be like to eat that soup… and then the ad agency’s in my head and controlling my brain, and suddenly our pantry is full of canned soup like we’re survivalists ready and waiting for a nuclear dust-up.
Well played, Campbell’s. Well played.