The Final Push: Advertising Puns Don’t Please Me

Motherhood Maternity

I appreciate a good pun. For example, here’s one of my favorites, “Speed kills! Don’t meth around!” Although even there I have to admit that when talking about something like methamphetamine, maybe a clever pun isn’t the most effective approach. But I think that’s especially true when it comes to advertising puns generally. Sometimes it works. FCUK is a pun because it works in that Ann Coulter way — it allows juveniles to titter while claiming that squares are the ones with a dirty mind. This goes along with its relatively hip image and I think it works well.[1]

But mostly when I see an advertising pun, it makes me sad. I have a high opinion of people who work in advertising. They are smart, often funny people. And I think it is beneath them. It reminds me of an episode of This American Life, Tough Room. There was a story about the weekly pitch session at The Onion. The show was in 2008 and a lot of the jokes were thrown out because they were “so 2007.” In other words, the staff at The Onion was always pushing forward. Even if something was clever, it didn’t work if it was stale. (And note: The Onion continues to be as good as it ever was — probably because of this commitment.)

On Sunday, I was walking through the local mall. I had just been at Whole Foods, which I hate to shop at, but I was looking for (and found) one of the few remaining six-packs of Lagunitas Brown Shugga’.[2] As I made my way out, I saw that one oddly placed shop, which has gone through many businesses, was now Motherhood Maternity. I thought it was good because it is a location that people kind of have to search out, and I suspect that pregnant women will do just that. But as I walked past, I saw this:

The Final Push

Really?! The final push? You know, I probably wouldn’t mind so much, but I have a feeling that whomever it was that came up with this was giggling at the time. I get it. It’s silly. It’s even a bit fun. And given that it is an end of the year sale, the sign won’t be up for long. But why is it necessary? Certainly, no reasonable person would think such an ad would be a good idea for a clearance sale for condoms. (Note: “Final Push” is the current banner at their website.)

Maybe it’s just that I’m a guy. I have long said that if men had to give birth, homo sapiens would have gone extinct long ago. And I truly believe that. Despite all the violence and braying of men, it’s women who are built of tougher stuff. But when I see a sign like “The Final Push,” I imagine great pain. If the rotting teeth and destroyed kidneys of meth addiction make puns about it a little questionable, so does the extreme sacrifice that women give to the preservation of our species.

But there is something more. Puns like “The Final Push” just seem lazy. I can think of my own, “You won’t need an epidural when you see our prices!” Or, “Squeeze every penny out of your maternity-wear budget!” Or, “You might have been screwed before, but you won’t be at Motherhood Maternity!” They’re all awful. Maybe advertising companies could take a clue from The Onion: these ads are so some time that isn’t now.


[1] According to the company, the acronym was not meant to be coarse. It was first used in fax transmissions between its UK and Hong Kong operations: FCUK to FCHK. But obviously, someone finally figured out that it might appeal to a certain clothing customer demographic.

[2] Exciting news! Arrogant Bastard is now available in 12-ounce six-packs. It’s expensive though: $17. I would have bought it but soon I won’t be able to get Brown Shugga’, so I passed. But next time. Yes, my lifestyle is getting expensive, but Arrogant Bastard is the best beer I’ve ever tasted. Don’t hate me because I have good taste.

7 thoughts on “The Final Push: Advertising Puns Don’t Please Me

  1. The final push is such a relief though. Birth is finished and now you have a squirming little bald creature to adore.

      • Those clothes are for fashionable women-not normal people. Normal women buy fat chick clothes.

        I did once see a store in Northern Ireland called the Law Suit which sold suits. It was almost as bad as the Best Friend’s All Hallow Eve’s costume where he wore his suit with statutes taped to it during law school. Then again, I usually go as a play on words so I really have no room to talk.

          • That is kind of odd but then I think that is what happens with my book collection-books just have other books.

            • Ah, well… With books I’m afraid, it’s an addiction. I’ve known women who were the same way about clothes that I am about books. But I haven’t been doing it because I’ve been so poor. But I just bought, The Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett. Which I’ve read a few times, but I’ve never owned it. I’ve very pleased. But it’s kind of sad.

              • My collection is pretty insane-and I plan on going to a massive book sale next month to get even more. And despite how hard it is to move with them, I cannot give up my non-fiction.

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