William Lutz's 'With These Words I Can Sell You Anything'

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Language in the Hands of Corporations: The Effects of Advertising In William Lutz’s essay “With These Words I Can Sell You Anything”, he emphasizes the words and phrases used by companies to make claims that appeal to the consumer, while simultaneously preventing the company from being legally bound to fulfill those claims. He advises to look out for words such as: help, more, virtually, new and improved, up to, acts, works, and like. Lutz claims “Every word in an ad is there for a reason; no word is wasted” (62), and that critical thinking is the only way to see what an advertisement is actually saying (63). For example, an ad by Delta for a bath faucet reads: “Save up to 32% more water per minute. When it comes to using water, we believe less is more. Delta bath faucets are built with a more efficient flow rate that saves up to 32% more water. Not only will it save more water for Mother Nature, it’ll save more money for your wallet. Another way Delta is more than just a faucet.” (Delta, 27) The ad also includes Delta’s slogan, “See what Delta can do” as well as a website, “deltafaucet.com/greenfaucet”. There is a lot to unpack in this ad, including the use of the phrase “up to”, the repetition of the word “more” and its unquantifiable definition, the use of a command as a slogan, and the appeal to an environmentally-conscious consumer. By predicting how consumers will perceive these phrases and techniques, the company has created an ad that

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