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Blog: Dirty Word Marketing

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

Double entendre, puns, cheeky words, call them what you will, have always been with us. To some these attempts at being funny or catchy while not offending the censors have been met with mixed reactions. Ultimately it comes down to that old marketing rule, "Know thy audience". If you clicked on this blog we promise to deliver some sophomoric humor....


In every language some words sound like others. In 2013 the slowly sinking department store chain Kmart took advantage of a growing viral market and offered YouTube viewers a play on words that offered consumers an opportunity to ship anything from their store. Later Kmart followed up with a program for their gas stations with a promise of "Big Gas Savings". While these commercials garnered shares on social media with the initial video earning 10 million views within hours of posting by 2021 Kmart and it's parent company Sears are bankrupt and are closing stores nationwide.


At the height of his popularity as playing Texas oilman J.R. Ewing in the weekly evening soap opera Dallas, Larry Hagman also peddled BVD underwear. While the company labeled him as "actor Larry Hagman" the actor still played a power hungry tycoon that all the ladies love. Among the many commercials produced one was quite risqué. The scene opens with Hagman placing valuables in a safe hidden behind a painting while discussing how his daddy told him to be prepared for anything, to having property (A deed for a property Hagman actually purchased in New Mexico), "insurance" photos of two silhouettes of individuals alluding to a blackmail a typical scheme J.R. Ewing often did in Dallas. The scene changes to Hagman's pièce de résistance or in this case something he uses "when he plays close to the vest"...underwear! At this point Hagman gives the sales pitch explaining the quality of BVDs and ending the commercial with the tag "BVD, where else would I put my personal assets?".


While initially geared toward the 18-24 year old crowd watching Comedy Centrals South Park in 1998, A&W Root beer wanted go past it's nostalgia of root beer floats and frosty mug taste with the "It's good to be thickheaded" campaign, In addition a commercial featuring a guy who keeps mispronouncing his potential employer's last name two other ads followed; one featuring a husband who is confessing secrets most would never tell their wife and another where a guy in the witness protect program is being transported by federal agents driving a van that tells everyone who the passenger is as mobsters in a black Cadillac follow.


Playing off his BA Baracus role from the 1980's hit television show The A-Team. Mr. T pelts men with Snickers candy bars who are not acting "manly" while yelling "Get some nuts!" Among the targets of MR. T's angst are: a soccer player who exaggerates his pain when kicked in the shins at a soccer match, a guy who won't jump in a pool because it's too cold, and a man who is speed walking. While these commercials poked fun at the modern man, the organization Human Rights Campaign complained they were homophobic. In the end, the ads were removed worldwide and Mars Inc. apologized for the misunderstanding.

Bud Light

While "in the can" can mean to "be finished with a project or being in trouble", "getting it in the can" has a whole other meaning. In this 2009 commercial introducing Bud Light Lime in a can makes it seem people from various walks of life including a housewife, a businessman, and a basketball player are doing something naughty. In the end beer drinking frat boys liked it while the marketing industry had mixed reactions.

Herbal Essence

In the 90's Herbal Essence shampoo promised women an "organic" experience. Ironically this wasn't entirely true because the product may contain chemicals that affect hormone levels and have links to cancer. in 2018, under the guidance of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) an organization that encourages products to be transparent, Herbal Essence owner Proctor and Gamble introduced to reformulated two products.

Know of a product that has a "dirty" word? Let us know Here


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