The Case of the Missing “Brilliant”

A couple of weeks ago, I noted on this blog an ad that appeared in my local newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, with a suspiciously British “brilliant“:


But then, just a couple of days ago, I opened the Inquirer to find this:


Which made me wonder: Did Samsung suddenly realize that “brilliant” was a NOOB and replace it with the much more American “beautifully”? Or do they run the ads in rotation? Or is there some other explanation?

If by a remote chance someone from the Samsung advertising department reads this blog, do me a solid and let me know.




8 thoughts on “The Case of the Missing “Brilliant”

  1. Well…I came across your blog whilst searching explanarion for ..”not by a long chalk” …. can only say as a UK resident,,,`s post ..I think your blog is….brilliant!

    BobW .. Shropshire UK

    1. Indeed. But then, I had to have explained to me the joke in the name of the Charlie Brooker spoof cop show, A Touch of Cloth. (For those that don’t know, “touching cloth” means that you are in so need of a lavatory that you are in danger of soiling your underpants.)

  2. I am watching Twelve Angry Men (New York, USA 1957). Juror 3, played by Lee J. Cobb says, sarcastically “Oh, brilliant!”.
    I was surprised to see the word used in an American setting so long ago.

    1. I have seen this movie but don’t remember the line or its context. However, “brilliant” does have a long history in American English of meaning “very intelligent” (a brilliant student) or “clever”(American sense)/”cunning” (a brilliant scheme). The later approaches the British meaning but is not quite the same. I suspect that Cobb used the word in one of these senses.

  3. “Brilliant” is regularly used in washing machine ads, but to describe cleaning performance and colorfastness. To my American eyes, this ad is a clever conflation. “Brilliant” has been used more recently as a souped-up marketing term for “smart”, so it has somewhat different implications than the generalized interpretation from Britain. The features of this washer/dryer are clever – not “great”; they literally have artificial intelligence behind them. The washer/dryer is a “smart buy” – a good value; not necessarily a cheap price.
    “Brilliant performance” is interesting as it’s been a common phrase in America for a century, but has been used almost exclusively for the performing arts. This ad, from its typeface to its white space, is all about going high brow to position their product as fancier than the rest.

    As far as why the ad changed, that’s simply because they are for different products. You can’t wordplay the “brilliant” aspect with kitchen appliances like you can with washing machines.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s