Weasel Words which attempt to give the impression of radical improvement in the quality or performance of a product which might not actually be there. In fact, US government regulations require only that there be a small functional change in a product or its packaging to qualify it to use this description. Thus, changing the design for the spout on a box of detergent would allow the manufacturer to tout it as being "new and improved". Changing the quantity of the product can also be a "new and improved" change, even if the change isn't in the direction that would qualify as an "improvement" for anyone except the manufacturer's accountants. Your favorite cereal might become "new and improved" when they increase the size of the box but decrease the amount of cereal in the box. Your favorite shampoo might become "new and improved" when they add a strong fragrance that makes your hair smell awful — or, worse, makes you sneeze.
A favorite trick of manufacturers is to "improve" an item by adding "botanical" ingredients. This is generally done by putting a handful of herbs into a strainer, then dipping the strainer into a 500-gallon vat of hot water for a minute or two. Two drops of the water is then added to every bottle of the product, which is then priced fifty cents higher than it used to be.
Comedian George Carlin observed that the phrase is perfectly meaningless in the first place. Which is it, a new product, or an old one which has been improved? Logically it cannot be both "new" and "improved"...
If the ad is specific about what they improved, it's We Don't Suck Anymore. If the ad emphasizes that the product is still the same despite a change in its packaging, it's New Look, Same Great Taste!. May be related to Absolute Comparative if the ad isn't specific about what makes the new product better.
- Gillette is an early example of this trope. When the patents for their original razor and blade design were expiring in 1921, they came up with a new razor and called it the New Improved. The old design was renamed, of course, the Old Type.
- Garfield had a nice Deadpan Snarker moment with this phrase.
"To think, all this time I've been eating old and inferior."
- Parodied in a Steak'n'Shake commercial claiming their steakburgers are "Old!" and "Unimproved!" The implication, of course, being that they need no improvement.
- The famous case of Tampax Tampons being "Improved" by putting fewer tampons in a box. This resulted in a drop in sales, and Tampax had another "New and Improved" going back to the old quantity. So for those of you keeping track at home, two improvements = no change.
- The automotive industry is the undisputed master of this trope (especially notorious among the American auto manufacturers), so much that the automotive publications industry (you know, as in Car & Driver and Motortrend?) is the undisputed master at countering the automotive industry's mastery. You see, cars (much like other things) are defined in "generations" with each "generation" being defined as having a significant improvement over the preceding one. The current model of Corvette, for example, is currently in its "Seventh generation." Because the gestation period of a new generation of a particular car model is so long (and expensive), most models go through a "mid-life update" (sometimes multiple updates) where minor and easy things are changed to at least make the car look more competitive against the truly latest generations of competing models. Of course, you would only really be aware of this from reading previously mentioned automotive publications and having them explain the deceptive terminology behind this, because, of course, the manufacturers will always pass off these "freshened" models as completely and totally 100% "redesigned" and "re-engineered" from the ground up, even when it's blatantly obvious that the most significant change to the model is minor exterior styling changes. Lately, however, the manufacturers have taken it up to the next level, blurring the lines between a truly new "generation" and "mid-life update" thanks to improved manufacturing and engineering processes which are able to make minor and cheap yet truly tangible and appreciative changes to a car model, at least from the buyer's perspective (for example, truly redesigned or enlarged interiors).
- In one that flew completely under the radar, Old El Paso, a brand primarily known for making salsa, began advertising their "New and improved zesty flavor". What they really did was doubled the salt and nothing else. Please note: "zesty" is completely meaningless.
- Legally, a product can be considered 'new and improved' if there is a 'substantial alteration in the product's performance or operation'. Usually, it's through the addition or alteration of the formula; since the formula (and thus, the product) is technically 'new' and the product itself is demonstrably 'improved', it's nearly bulletproof when it comes to advertising law.
- Parodied in the "Diamond Shreddies" advertising campaign.
- Inverted by Monster Munch in the UK: on their packets they advertise "
NewOld! Bigger like they used to be! (as in 1977)".
- Walkers Crisps did this on several occasions. Nobody was able to tell the difference as most of the time, they were able to replace ingredients without the flavour significantly changing. However, there was at least one instance of them having to own up to it. They had to change the name of the flavour "Barbecue" to "Bbq Rib" because it tasted so different with the new ingredients. Many people who liked "Barbecue" also like "BBQ Rib" but think it should have been launched as a different flavour, rather than replace one of their favourites.
- Many shops, when being renovated, have a sign on the outside saying something like 'Sorry for the wait. We're improving the shop for your convenience'. People who enter said improved shop rarely find anything has happened except things have been moved around. Hardly convenient.
- Even better, these "improvements" often move commonly purchased items "conveniently" to the back of the store to force customers to see other mechandise.
- In one which is an inversion, Irn-Bru has had "Original and Best" on its cans for years, but the formula has never actually been changed. The reason for this is that it was the first and most prominent iron brew to be produced.
- Inverted by ads for Shredded Wheat. "Not new. Not improved. One honest ingredient since 1892."
- Fittingly for a manufacturer whose weapons have names that sound like TV advertising jargon, Borderlands 2's Tediore features the "New and Improved" title modifier for its line of shotguns. Aesthetically, it adds a tiny box to the side of the gun. Functionally, it provides modest but wholly positive bonuses to the gun's basic stats, making it a rare instance of where the 'improved' part of the trope title is actually an honest statement (even if the 'new' part is still a little bit shady).
- Eddie Izzard's Dress to Kill show includes a bit where a finicky cat dubiously inspects his food and its "new and improved" sales pitch.