Am I going mad or is this unclear...?

(28 Posts)
Ginshizz Mon 18-Feb-13 08:35:35

I have just been asked to review some advertising concepts for a client and one has left me very confused. I have changed some of the wording so my client's identity is not obvious but please can I have your thoughts on what this sentence means:

"A cat needs a mouse, not a computer"

Does this mean:

a) A cat does not need a computer; he or she needs a mouse.
b) A computer does not need a mouse; a cat does.

I think it means a). But the ad agency think it means b). I am slightly thrown because a professional copywriter wrote this so I think he should know about these things.

Argh!

All thoughts gratefully received

thanks

KeatsiePie Mon 18-Feb-13 08:38:24

It's (a). The professional copywriter is a wing nut.

HecateWhoopass Mon 18-Feb-13 08:39:35

It is clear what they are trying to say. That a computer doesn't need a mouse.

But yes, it does read like a cat needs a computer, not a mouse grin

If they emphasised the word cat, that would be clearer.

A cat needs a mouse, not a computer.

wem Mon 18-Feb-13 08:41:00

I agree with you, but I think if it was said in a particular way it could be understood as b).

A cat needs a mouse, not a computer.

Still a bit awkward though.

Makes more sense as:

A cat needs a mouse; a computer does not.

HecateWhoopass Mon 18-Feb-13 08:41:33

grr. read like a cat needs a mouse not a computer.

grin

It's early. What can I say? grin

KeatsiePie Mon 18-Feb-13 08:42:39

If you were not allowed to emphasize a word, and the meaning were supposed to be (b), wouldn't you write "A cat, not a computer, needs a mouse"?

PandaNot Mon 18-Feb-13 08:43:08

When reading it, it's a.

If it was spoken with the emphasis on the word cat, it changes the meaning to b.

Ginshizz Mon 18-Feb-13 08:43:29

Thank you!

Part of the problem is that it is a press ad so we can't use a voice over to clarify it. Hmmmmmmm. I might have to see if they can reword it...

BlueyDragon Mon 18-Feb-13 08:44:08

It's definitely (a). The correct form for (b) would be, "A computer doesn't need a mouse; a cat does." Or if they want something more positive, try, "A computer needs a mouse like a cat needs a dog". Derivative but hey... And I won't even charge them for it.

HecateWhoopass Mon 18-Feb-13 08:44:13

I think they've fallen into the trap of because they know what they mean, not being able to step back from that and look at how people who aren't in their head might think! grin

We can all do it. I would expect a professional to remember that's always a risk and guard against it.

I always try to remember that I don't sell to myself and to always look at it as though it's nothing to do with me.

500internalerror Mon 18-Feb-13 08:44:39

I agree with you. It hadn't even occurred to me that it meant the other option (although if you read it out loud you can make it sound right). I think it would confuse many people if it was part of advertising!!

Ginshizz Mon 18-Feb-13 08:44:52

grin Hecate, don't worry, I haven't had my coffee yet this morning, that's why I was so confused by the whole thing!

HecateWhoopass Mon 18-Feb-13 08:45:06

They can emphasise the word cat though, if it's a written ad. Make the word cat bigger, or bolder, or in italics or a different font?

BlueyDragon Mon 18-Feb-13 08:45:34

Or "A cat needs a mouse; a computer doesn't."

KeatsiePie Mon 18-Feb-13 08:46:39

Wait, which meaning are they going for? That the cat needs a mouse and the computer doesn't?

Or that the cat needs a mouse but does not need a computer?

Ginshizz Mon 18-Feb-13 08:47:49

Thanks everyone. As there's clearly some confusion, I think they need to reword it... or it's just a waste of ad money. I'm just a little shocked that a professional copywriter let that one go to the client.

Ginshizz Mon 18-Feb-13 08:48:58

Keatsie, it's meant to be option a)

confused

I'm off to give my cat a computer for breakfast

WMittens Mon 18-Feb-13 08:49:35

I agree: I would take it to mean a).

However, depending on the actual nouns involved, the double entendre could make for a memorable slogan.

A cat, not a computer, needs a mouse
would be clearer

BlueyDragon Mon 18-Feb-13 11:42:01

Sorry, complete misread by me, I thought the ad agency wanted (b), hence they were reading it that way. Doh!

Ginshizz Mon 18-Feb-13 11:58:57

Don't worry dragon , it is all a muddle!

The agency have agreed to reword it. Phew!

Thanks everyone

thanks

KeatsiePie Mon 18-Feb-13 18:31:10

Thanks Ginshizz it was late for me, not early, so had started to lose track of my reasoning confused Glad they're rewording!

JessieMcJessie Tue 19-Feb-13 15:02:19

I'm confused now-you said in your OP that the ad agency had written it and thought it meant (b). Then you said later that it was meant to be option (a). The consensus was that, as originally drafted, it read as (a). But you said they had agreed to reword it!

How was it reworded?

cumfy Wed 20-Feb-13 16:00:17

These advertising types just want to capture your attention.

Unfortunately they've succeeded.wink

gobbin Tue 02-Apr-13 15:39:03

I read a) as the cat having a computer already, not a mouse. That's probably not what the ad people were intending, I assume?

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