It seemed like a good idea when a youth welfare organisation in New York decided to hand out pencils printed with an anti-drugs slogan: TOO COOL TO DO DRUGS.
But the organisers of the health education campaign had failed to think about the consequences of sharpening the pencil, which converted the slogan to COOL TO DO DRUGS.
Of course, if you sharpened the pencil even more, the message became a short, sharp imperative: DO DRUGS!
It was only when a 10-year-old pupil pointed out that pencils get shorter when sharpened that red-faced adults owned up to their mistake.
The solution was simple: the slogan was printed in the opposite direction, so that it would say TOO COOL when it was sharpened…
…and talking about slogans on pencils, check out pop cult pencils which are hand-stamped with funny slogans and quotes inspired by popular culture. Perhaps your friend would like a pencil inscribed “Mrs Louis Theroux” or “Living for naps and Netflix”?