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SMArt (but a little bit smug?)

Andrew Steeds

Puns and double meanings are the stock in trade of advertisements, of course, but not all of them work. This one does, though it comes dangerously close to smugness at times.

But there’s much to like here. There’s the way in which the first line of the text finishes so neatly with ‘best’; there’s the neat visual balancing of the apostrophe ‘s’ at the end of the first and last word; and of course there’s the double sense of the word ‘after’, used as a both temporal and also (to coin a word) hierarchical preposition.

Originally I thought that this double use was even cleverer and was a way of reaching out to all mothers with babies, whether they breastfed or not: a product with universal appeal, the Holy Grail of marketing. But the text that follows the image makes its position clear; you’d be hard pushed to think this product was for you if you hadn’t been breastfeeding already.

Quibbles? Perhaps the repetition of the word ‘best’ in the copy under the image, teetering dangerously on the border line between mothers’ understandably overwhelming concern for their children and smug self-absorption and narcissism (itself reflected in the way in which the woman is gazing at her child – though, phew, he’s not returning her gaze). And the simplicity and purity of the design (plain white background, no frills in the image or the copy, of course all in synch with the product itself) manage to impress and irritate at the same time.

But, no, these are quibbles. This is an ad that works and that seems to know that it works, too: there’s a quiet confidence about it. And, you know, even that sense of being on the side of the angels and restricting the product’s intended use to after, and not instead of, breastfeeding – I wonder whether that message will figure anything like as prominently in a reader’s mind as the central idea that, if you can’t have Kate’s, why would you want your baby to have anything other than SMA?