Denny's Zinger: The Zaniest of the Mad Men—Stan Freberg
Stan Freberg broke the rules.
A very busy guy who was ubiquitous on radio, Freberg made a slew of comedy records, did stand-up and was the voice for hundreds of cartoon characters.
His 1957 send-up of political correctness—changing Ol' Man River to "Elder Man River"—was classic.
When not coining money in the world of comedy, Stan Freberg turned Madison Avenue on its ear by injecting outrageous humor and satire into the solemn business of advertising. A sampling:
"To pitch Chun King Chow Mein, he had an announcer saying, 'Nine out of 10 doctors prefer Chun King.' The camera panned to show them—nine of them Asian, the other Caucasian."
Takeaways to Consider
- How many viewers above remembered Chun King Chow Mein as opposed to the boffo 9-out-of-10-doctors gag?
- The Mad Men loved Stan Freberg and awarded him 21 Clios.
- In the one-to-one intimate advertising of direct marketing, humor is dangerous and must be tested carefully.
- A funny line, a quip, a joke can interrupt the thread of an argument and risks losing the reader and the sale.
- "Avoid humor. What's funny to one person isn't to millions of others. Copy should sell, not just entertain. Remember there's not one funny line in the two most influential books ever written: the Bible and the Sears catalog." —John Caples
- "People don't buy from clowns." —David Ogilvy
- "Your job is to sell, not entertain." —Jack Maxson
- Stan Freberg died April 7, 2015 at age 88.
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