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Slanging Match : Part II

Benson and Hedges Nuts Ants 1 & 2

All dictionary definitions used on this page can be verified in Tony Thorne's Dictionary of Contemporary Slang. Check out the bibliography for more information.

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Ants in your pants?

Click for a larger, floating, image. Benson & Hedges tools ad with phallic anvil.Ants in your pants is, as the dictionary definition indicates, either a pretty innocuous term, taken to mean agitated, or else it is a rather sexy term.

It is highly unlikely that Benson and Hedges were primarily interested in trying to associate their cigarettes with the notion of being agitated. They would, however, have been quite happy to get their customers agitated, so that they might smoke more if they perceived smoking as a means of relaxing. But to trigger conscious reflection or even preconscious ideas about agitation? NO! NO! NO! No Way!

Click for a larger, floating, image. Benson & Hedges tools ad with phallic anvil.


antsy adj

a) nervous, jumpy, agitated. 'She's been getting a little antsy lately and wants me to leave my wife.'

(The Secret of my Success, US film,1987).

b) eager for sex.

Both senses of antsy are derived from the older, humorous colloquial expression 'to have ants in one's pants' (meaning to be restless or agitated). Antsy is a fairly common and inoffensive term in the USA and Australia. but rare in Britain.

If viewers associated the ants in this ad with 'eagerness for sex' or 'sexy' then Benson and Hedges were on to a winner. The likelihood is that they succeeded if their preparatory research into the language, interests and activities of their potential and actual customers was effective.

Numerous other Benson and Hedges ads also pursue an association with sex. A number of these are illustrated on this site. Some were relatively obvious such as the twisted electric wiring seen on the Goldbrik page and elsewhere. Others were more covert and semi-subliminal in nature. Nevertheless, all were intended to associate Benson and Hedges in the minds of viewers with sex and position Benson and Hedges as a 'sexy' brand in the market. This ad is unlikely to have had any other primary function.

Note: Definition b) above, gets my vote as the more likely source of inspiration for this ad.

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More Benson and Hedges Tools

Whilst many ads are associated with a number of different notions it is rare to come across a visual representation of two key colloquial terms in one ad. But, as with the other tools ads illustrated or referred to in Part 1 Click for a larger, floating, image. Benson & Hedges tools ad with phallic anvil.if this page, the Benson and Hedges ad illustrated alongside is more than a mere collection of nuts formed into an image of an ape. As an ad for a leading cigarette brand produced by one of the leading ad agencies in country, the ad has to express meaning over and above the sum of its parts.

Nuts of course, as the dictionary definition states, is a euphanism for balls. And there are plenty of these forming the ape in the ad. The ape is of course, also holding a tool in his hand. Tool, as discussed on the previous page, is another useful euphanism. Tools can also be used for crushing balls. This ad thus also manages to convey an anixety raising message about potential aggression in addition to a sexual message.

The appearance on the face of the Ape however is notable and seems more appropriate to when balls are being cradled rather than being crushed. Only a masochist would therefore find an aggressive meaning the most pertinent.

There is not much scope in the ad for the extraction of meaning related to the second dictionary definition, relating to Ape(shit). There is no indication of rising passion or excitement. The figure of the ape therefore is largely irrelevant, other than as an additional means of triggering 'dictionary units' in ones memory related to the

nuts ad] 1a crazy, absurd, insane. An Americanism of the turn of the century, adopted elsewhere before World War II, it derives ultimately from the 19th-century notion of ‘off one’s nut’, a slang version of the colloquial ‘off one’s head’.

b extremely enthusiastic or enamoured. 'He’s nuts about her!’

nuts n p1 testicles. A metaphorical use of the word which serves as a more acceptable euphemism for bails.

ape(shit) ad], adv out of control, berserk, used especially in the expression go ape; the image is of a person reduced to a primal state, either by infatuation, excitement or, especially, anger. An American teenagers' term from the late 1950s now in general currency.

'He's apeshit about her.'

' 'I go ape ev'ry time I see you smile.'

('I Go Ape', written and recorded by Neil Sedaka, 1960).

'After I'd left my last school. I pinched a wallet full of credit cards and went apeshit in about five different counties.

(Sunday Times magazine, Stephen Fry, August 1989).

previously noted colloquial terms. However, there may also be some additional meaning for individuals referred to by their parents or spouses as 'You big ape!'.

Some additional commentary (plus a fair amount of repetition) regarding this ad can be found on the Faces page.

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To the best of the author's knowledge none of the illustrations, in the format used on this site, are subject to copyright. If copyright has been inadvertently breached please contact the author in order to rectify the matter. All brands and logos referred to or illustrated on this site are the property of the relevant companies and copyright holders. However, commentary and other information produced by the author can be freely copied and distributed. Similarly, illustrations of ads, so long as they are accompanied by commentary or are presented in the form of parody, can also be copied and distributed but please acknowledge as the source. Translation of tobacco company ads and relevant commentary into languages other than English will be particularly welcomed.

Last Revised: 3rd January, 2003


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