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A bunch of our most used clichés come from classic TV commercials

Classic movies aren’t the only way that popular expressions creep into our lexicon. If you watched Mad Men, it’s no surprise that advertising slogans worm their way into our daily conversations, too.

Atlas Obscura uncovered eight forgotten ads that led to everyday clichés that you might have heard of or are using yourself. “Many sayings infiltrate our conversation so easily because they started out as ad slogans, literally designed to worm their way into our lives,” writes Eric Grundhauser. “The most effective of those advertising brain worms outlive their original purpose, becoming a cliché that seems to have sprung up organically, rather than in a Madison Avenue boardroom.”


As the article shows, ad slogans can also worm their way into TV shows, like for example, the American Express Travelers Cheques’ slogan: “Don’t leave home without it.”

“The first ad featured actor Karl Malden, who became the face of American Express, as he told a sinister story of a successful pickpocket before reminding viewers that their Amex travelers cheques could easily be replaced, finally counseling not to leave home without them,” writes Grundhauser. That classic line from a mid-1970s Amex ad was used in a 2006 episode of The Sopranos, “Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request…” when Christopher Moltisanti concludes his sale of stolen credit card numbers to Middle Easterners with the quip, “Don’t leave home without them!”

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