Be an Outsider for $249 + Tax

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Advertising is no stranger to wordplay, and the outerwear retailer, L.L. Bean, has adopted this approach with their latest slogan, Be an Outsider.

A man and a woman dressed in outerwear have a laugh on the cover of an LL Bean catalog.

Defined as a person not belonging to a particular group, or a competitor not considered likely to win or succeed, the word outsider has been literalized by L.L. Bean to simply mean someone who enjoys being outdoors. Clever, but the combination of this neologism with the dictionary definition produces a latent, third meaning that is cleverer still. By appealing to a rugged individualism not uncommon among people who appreciate the great outdoors, L.L. Bean taps into the human desire to connect with the world at large while simultaneously standing one’s ground.

But the ingenuity does not stop there. The words be and an, separated by less than a full space, combine to form the word bean, as in L.L. By conflating an expression of…

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