Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Go out and buy!

The other day, this post from blog-buddy JES put me in mind of a favourite tale I heard from my father many years ago, which I added in a comment (unfortunately, in a brain-dazed state, I added it to the wrong post).  I think it bears repeating here.  I don't have that many fond memories of my dad, but this is certainly one of them.  [Although I always harboured some doubts as to whether he'd really done this.  It seemed so out of character.]

My father, not usually the sort of chap to indulge in such japery, told me a story about his days in the army (in Palestine, in the turbulent years just after WWII and just before the creation of the state of Israel). He and a friend created a phoney advertising campaign, both formal and informal (posters and graffiti around their camp; and, I think, also a few jingles on the local Forces' radio, and maybe even a brief film ad at the Saturday evening cinema show). It kills me that I can't now remember the brand name of their invented product, but it was something corny (and American!) like Spiffo or Flub. They only had two pictures to use, but this produced a brilliant juxtaposition that suggested their slogan. One was a portrait of the young Frank Sinatra, just becoming known to British audiences (I imagine, through contact with all the American servicemen stationed in Britain during the war). The other was of a mushroom cloud from a recent A-bomb test. "Frank Sinatra says…. it's atomic!"

The genius of this jape was that there was never any other copy at all in these ads, no suggestion of what the product might be – but, apparently, after a couple of weeks or so, scores of people were demanding to know when it would appear in the camp store. Whatever it was.

The power of advertising!  I learned an important lesson from this story.

Frank Sinatra says... it's ATOMIC!!

1 comment:

JES said...

Wonderful story indeed -- I don't even care if it's true, or just something they'd talked about doing but never properly executed. Just picturing it offers enough reward for me.

By the way, I've "moved" the misplaced comment. Had my doubts about whether it was possible; in the end, I copied-and-pasted the text and your name/email/URL to a brand-new comment, whose date/time of posting I changed to match the original, and then I deleted the latter. Looks perfectly fine, although future Internet archaeologists will probably be mystified by your split-second transport to my IP address.