Sharing a bathroom can present you with unfamiliar advertising copy, as happened when Fiddler and Ginger came to visit us in Spain last spring. As I was brushing my teeth one day, I read the tagline on the back of Fiddler’s Old Spice deodorant, which said, in all caps:
IF YOUR GRANDFATHER HADN’T WORN IT, YOU WOULDN’T EXIST.
In point of fact, if my memory serves, I think his grandfather did wear it, and here he is, so there you go.
Actually, though, where did we go, and how did we get there? How can that statement be true? I’m sure there are a lot of people that exist whose grandfathers did not use it–Fiddler is in the minority.
That being the case, is this a logical fallacy? I don’t know enough about formal argument to label it accurately. (I thought I’d give it a try, but I got tied up in consequents and modus tollens and “if not P then not Q” and barely escaped.)
I do know that even if the form of the argument holds up, it may not result in a statement being true if the original premise can’t get the job done.
My guess is that Old Spice assumed people wouldn’t spend a lot of time diagramming the formal logical structure of the argument presented, and instead would think about the quaint picture of a much younger (and virile-smelling) version of Grandpa clutching a bouquet of flowers for lovely young Grandma (unless the smell of Old Spice and the smell of the flowers were incompatible–but again, that’s probably overthinking).
Of course, tracing a valid logical path isn’t where marketing spends its time, and is clearly not Old Spice Job One. I don’t have a TV, and haven’t seen many commercials since the early 80s, but even I have seen the Old Spice commercial that celebrates non sequitur, and thumbs its nose at tracing a logical path.