Have you ever been swayed by the appeal or cleverness of an ad?
I know quite a bit about advertising. In fact, I knew the owner of a radio station who wanted to get me into advertising with him. Had the studio not been such a long drive for me, I probably would have gone for it and my life would have been quite different. I would have either thrived or been on a slope to my soul’s downfall; I am not sure which.
I love a clever ad, but let’s face it: they exist to play with our heads.
And some have played with MY head!
I am immune to most coercive advertising and can see right through them. I can analyze them, and I do.
However, I delight in a well-made ad. I often say to my husband, “Oh, that was good!” My niece or sister will call me and say, “Did you see the ad for such-and-such?”, because they know that I would like it; I think that I cultivated the awareness of good ones to family members. I appreciate the brain(s) behind good writing. I always heard that the brightest minds went into advertising. Many famous songwriters put their efforts into writing jingles before they made it big in songs; among them are Barry Manilow, (“You deserve a break today” for McDonald’s), and Paul Williams, ( “We’ve Only Just Begun”, which had only just begun as an ad for a bank: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97X9huy7pHQ).
It’s not easy to get into someone’s head in 60 seconds. In fact, most ads are now 30 seconds or less, often 15 seconds, or even 5. I can’t say that many have swayed me, but a few did, or would have; I’ll explain below.
One which really got to me? Scrubbing Bubbles! I love those things. I had a rubber Scrubbing Bubble bath toy for my kids. I also had a plastic container with the Bubbles on it for things on the sink top, like toothpaste and bobby pins. The Bubbles on that smiled at me for many years. Both finally wore out, cracked and faded, yet I hated throwing them away. I still use Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner. I keep trying organic or less expensive products and, especially with the hard water here, nothing else cuts it. Literally. I was swayed by the ad, but I stayed for the product’s quality. If not for the darling ads, I never would have tried it, and been working impossibly hard.
If I had had the money some years ago, I would have bought a new car just for the fellow in the ad campaign. I can’t even remember the brand of car, (it may have been a Hyundai).
Do you remember these? In the first one, you saw a man walking his dog. As he approached his house, he eyed a car parked there. He walked in and said to his wife, (who was reading a newspaper), “Honey, whose car is that in the driveway?” She looked up rather wearily and said, “It’s YOUR car, Frank.” A beaming smile crossed his face as he said, “Yes, it IS, isn’t it?”
He was THAT pleased with his car. I liked him so much, that I wanted to be as pleased as Frank. I wanted to support “Frank”, (who I knew did not really exist). He made an announcement at a wedding about a certain car outside and when people went out and flocked around it, someone asked, “Isn’t that YOUR car, Frank?” he answered with a broad, self-confident smile, “Yes, it IS, isn’t it?”
It worked; but I was in no position to buy a new car.
Another that did get me to buy their product was Calgon. Before the silly, “Take me away!” ads, they had a series of beautifully photographed and incredibly written magazine spots. I only remember three, but again, it was the first one that appealed to me, (and sent me shopping).
The ad campaign had complete romance stories in a few paragraphs.
I don’t even remember much of the third; I was already soaking in Calgon, even if all my troubles didn’t go away. It was of a younger, hipper girl and it didn’t ‘grab’ me as much as the others. (I guess they were trying for the younger consumer; they didn’t realize that they had her already!) The second one as I remember had a well-dressed woman, probably in her 30’s. The introduction was: “They called her everything but “Mother”. I want to say that the woman was “Lenore”, and apparently, she had married a wealthy, older widower. His family hadn’t been welcoming. But she was going to gain her confidence in a Calgon bath, dress, go down to dinner and face her stepchildren once more, intending to gain their respect.
We saw her after the bath, dressed to the nines, ready to take them on.
I wanted to be like Lenore.
It was the first one that got me, though. The picture was of a woman looking out of the back window of a taxi in the rain; the rest was blurry, but it may have been a small airfield.
I can probably tell you the entire ad verbatim, but I won’t. I was a teen and I read it and reread it. I am surprised that I did not save the magazine page, but I wrote the text into a notebook,(which may be still around somewhere. I should look.)
“Gregory loved her, but he loved life more, and there would always be another revolution to run to in another country.”
So, there we left Gregory, who was obviously (to me) a photographer, an Ernie Pyle type.
He was going to show the world the oppressions taking place! What a guy! And here we loved him, yet we had to leave in the rain, letting him go. The text said that the girl was going to soothe herself in a Calgon bath and go “to Angela’s party. She’d go alone, with no explanations…and no regrets”. Oh, how my teenage heart melted! The sweet pain of lost love! And Gregory, (who didn’t even have a face), was such an unselfish fellow, giving up the comforts of home and the love of us to show the world just what was going on!
You bet I got into a Calgon bath!
Actually, the thought crossed my mind after a few dozen readings that they never actually said that Gregory was going off to show the sufferings in war or the necessity of uprisings against oppressors. Good Grief! He was running off to “another revolution”…could our Gregory be a MERCENARY???
My heart nearly stopped. No, no, what was I thinking? He took that picture of us leaving in the taxi, didn’t he, so yes, he had to be a photographer and was going to share the horrors and suffering of injustice and war with the world: our Gregory was noble!
I don’t think of Gregory very much, but I’m sticking with that version of the story, even to this day.
I stopped using Calgon in my bath soon award. Not only didn’t it soothe away my troubles, it didn’t give me confidence, either.
Scrubbing Bubbles are more personally reliable than Gregory anyway.