Friday, July 24, 2009

In the Valley of the Jolly Ho Ho Hos

There is a show on pay cable; I think it's called Mad Men or some such. Since there are so many comedies on tv for free already (King of Queens, Rules of Engagement and The O'Reilly Factor among them) I don't pay to watch comedies or drama on pay purview.

But the point of the show is the advertising business in the Golden Age of Madison Avenue: in the early 60's, having an ad agency and a few successful accounts was a license to print money. Look at all the slogans and images we can recall even now from those halcyon days:

"We try harder," "The Pepsi generation," "Please don't squeeze the Charmin", "Ring around the collar," "Let Hertz put you in the driver's seat," "I want my Maypo," "Take it off... take it all off with Noxzema Medicated Shave," "Ajax cleans like a white tornado!", " In the valley of the jolly (ho ho ho) Green Giant," "Ajax Laundry Detergent is stronger than dirt."

Ah, yes. Words that ring true, even today. The beauty of a great slogan is in its simplicity. You'll find no Winston Churchills among the men and women who sell Winston cigarettes and Churchill luggage. The last thing they want to do is overload their message with ponderous prose and turgid treatises, no matter how attractively alliterate or coyly clever. Nope. "I want my MTV!" were just four words that worked because they recalled our youthful cry of "I want my Maypo!" No need to write sonnets for a 30-second spot about hemorrhoid medications. Just sell the product and have another martini.

Which is why I am bringing to your attention a slogan which makes up for in honesty what it lacks in comfort. The good people at
Saddleback Leather sell what looks like a fine line of durable goods...wallets, messenger bags, pouches, satchels and what-all. They seem to have two slogans:

"Quality Built to Last"


"They'll Fight Over It When You're Dead"

Now that second one just sings to you, doesn't it? The very thought... the image... of the kids...Jim Bob and Lurleen...bickering bitterly over poor departed Uncle Nabob's leather valise is the stuff of Norman Rockwell, Jr., if there had been one.

But when you reach the mid-August of your years, you do think about such things. I like to tell the story of the ophthalmologist who told my terminally-ill father that he was developing the early warning signs of glaucoma and would likely need treatment for it in 6 to 8 years. This was like 6 to 8 months before Dad crossed the bar, so he was able to tell the young doctor that it wouldn't be a problem.

If you're 87 and you buy a new Buick, do you gamble on the extended warranty? Even if you realize that Jim Bob and Lurleen will be packing your valise to go to Twitty City on a vacation in your Buick which outlived you because you didn't get the extended warranty on your hypothalamus?


PandorasInk said...

"They'll Fight Over It When You're Dead" That is a pretty darn stellar slogan.

Peggy said...

Yes, people do fight over things when you die! What a great slogan, one that probably rings true for most people.