A full page advertisement for Nature Valley granola bars on the front of the Metro free newspaper in the UK this morning carries the legend:
|We wanted to increase deliciousness by 200%
So we put two bars in each pack
The arithmetical error is so plangent that one almost thinks the advertising agency must have done it deliberately to get me to advertise Nature Valley granola bars on Language Log (which I will not do; ignore this product). Increasing by 200% over a 1-bar-per-pack basis would require 3 bars per pack. If you only put two in, you increase the putative deliciousness by at most 100%.
Could the advertising copywriter have been innumerate enough to be ignorant of the difference between increasing by 200% and increasing to a total of 200% over the original? Or to be confused about the difference between increasing the quantity to twice the original and increasing the quantity by adding twice the original?
Percentages are said by psychologists of mathematics education to be quite hard for children to grasp; but this is pretty extreme. I am truly gobsmacked. By at least 200%.
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