When Marketing Was Fun ?
By Denny Hatch
I hate to count the number of times I have nearly veered off the road trying to figure out what a wordy billboard is all about. Billboards today are serious and confusing.
Does anyone remember the old red-and-white Burma-Shave signs by the side of the road—one after the other—that touted the brushless shaving cream? There were several hundred versions of these—every one of them a hoot. Each sign had a little bit of copy; just enough so that you didn't take your eyes off the road for too long. This was followed by another and another, until you had the whole message. They kept you awake, kept you sober and kept you chuckling.
Babies kiss me
Since I've been using
Violets are blue
Roses are pink
Who drive and drink
This crazy campaign bit the dust (along with Burma-Shave) in 1963—before many of the people in this industry were born. The Burma-Shave copywriters had fun in those days. Where is the fun today?
I once worked for direct marketing legend Walter Weintz. We worked hard. We played hard. We laughed a lot. Every so often, on a hot summer day, Walter would storm out of his office and scream, "It's too nice a day to be working. Let's go fishing!" Whereupon we would pile into his Mercedes and head for Norwalk Cove Marina for a liquid lunch at Skipper's and an afternoon aboard Walter's 1953 Bristol trawler, onto which we'd haul in obscene quantities of bluefish and mackerel.
In the mellow, late summer afternoon on the way back into port, Walter's son (and business partner) Todd would clean and fillet our vast catch, chucking the leavings overboard. Etched in memory is the long trail of seagulls vanishing back to the horizon, bobbing on the water and so sated with fish heads and innards that they were unable to fly.