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Quick Draw: Did Salman Rushdie invent the Aero bar?

Read Tuesday, 16 Aug 2016

In Quick Draw, Sophie Quick answers the obscure literary questions you never actually asked.

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No, Salman Rushdie did not invent the Aero, but the Booker prize-winner did play a role in inventing the modern image of the famous chocolate bar. This is the true scandal of his career.

The Aero bar was invented in 1935 by a confectionary company in York, England, called Rowntree’s. The Aero was, of course, a brutal hoax: a bunch of air pockets separated by a wretched brown lattice, then wrapped in pretty paper and flogged to innocent consumers. In the 1970s, Rowntree’s decided the Aero needed a rebrand and engaged the services of an advertising agency in London. Enter Salman Rushdie, then a young, London-based copywriter. It was Rushdie who invented the Aero’s famous ‘irresistibubble’ tag; the cutesy slogan working to dupe a whole new generation of honest snackers into parting with cash for pre-packaged air.

Rushdie worked in advertising for quite a few years (and while he was writing Midnight’s Children) and ‘irresistibubble’ was not his only famous campaign. He also worked on campaigns for American Express, coining a tagline that ran in Britain during the eighties: ‘American Express? That’ll do nicely‘.

And speaking of ‘nicely’ and ‘nice’ – words too often maligned as boring and banal – the future Booker Prize winner was a big fan of both during his copywriting years. Rushdie also came up with ‘Naughty. But nice.’ – a slogan for cream cakes.

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