Frank Perdue

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Hotels.com is a good service for a lot of reasons. Alas, the current TV ad campaign is an exercise in smartypants stupidity. The new spokesman—Captain Obvious—is a costumed, brash boob without one scintilla of charm or class.

As I get older—and my time on this planet gets shorter—I go berserk when people promise one thing in writing, deliver something else and waste my time.

At right "IN THE NEWS" is the lede of Howard Shapiro's review of "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller at the University of Delaware, roughly an hour's drive from my house in center city Philadelphia.  

I wanted to know one thing quickly: was this production worth the trip?

Of the 403-word review, the first 88 words are devoted to the excruciatingly dull details of how Shapiro got stuck in stop-and-go 8 mph traffic that caused him to miss Act I.

Shapiro spends the next 94 words dumping all over Arthur Miller's first act—which he has not seen:

Ah, yes, the babbling, daydreaming Willy Loman, aging badly from a hard life of sales on the road, is in his Brooklyn house, frightening his wife with his erratic behavior. He's also yelling at his grown boysparticularly Biff, who had been Willy's great hope and now is his constant disappointment.

In all, 182 words—or 45 percent of this supposed review—are expended (1) highlighting Howard Shapiro's self-described inability to keep an appointment and (2) wasting my time.

Shapiro and his editor—if such an animal exists in the bankrupt Philadelphia Inquirer—should be fired for letting this irrelevant drivel see print.

My message to Howard Shapiro—and to everyone that writes for public consumption (as opposed to private diaries or journals):

  • Consider the readers needs and wants before your own
  • Ruthlessly self-edit, because most businesses do not have professional editors.

One of the most shadowy, behind-the-scenes characters of recent history was a sixth cousin of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a plain little spinster lady named Margaret (Daisy) Suckley (rhymes with “book-lee”), whose Hudson River mansion is being renovated. Suckley died in 1991 in her 100th year. For years she maintained she had nothing to add to what had been written about Roosevelt and his presidency. But when her house was cleaned out, a suitcase of letters was found under her bed, and to the astonishment of historians and family members, Suckley and Roosevelt had a long-term and very close relationship. Although the words are

Who Speaks for Your Company? The new General Motors strategy of offering employee pricing on all new models resulted in a 47-percent sales increase in June. Ford promptly followed suit. Chrysler went them both one better by not only offering employee discounts but bringing back Lee Iacocca--the man who saved the company in 1982 and became its spokesman--to do the TV commercials, complete with the line he made famous, "If you can find a better car, buy it." In 1955 Ogilvy & Mather dreamed up the idea of using the CEO of Schweppes USA, the elegant, bearded Commander Edward Whitehead, as the centerpiece of

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