Sometimes my mind travels back to unexpected places. That happened this morning when I found myself silently rehearsing old Burma Shave jingles in my mind. For young travelers in the days before interstates and high-speed travel, Burma Shave’s unique marketing campaign competed with the Alphabet Game for “best way to make young travelers stop whining.”
By way of information for the younger generation, Burma Shave was the first brushless shaving cream. The signature promotion for this product consisted of a series of six small billboards spaced at equal distances along roadsides. Some of the signs had to do with shaving, but many did not. Sign number five was always the punch line, and the last of the six signs gave the name of the shaving cream. A cruel prank played by teenagers was to steal sign number five. This produced many frustrated travelers.
Burma Shave ad writers designed copy in a way that made the product being promoted “stick in one’s mind.” For me, the ones still in my mind are the signs I read often or that were read to me by my big bro before I could read them myself. The following two jingles sometimes come, unbidden, to my mind.
Out too far
It might go home
In another car
As he sped along
But he was just as dead
As if he’d been wrong
And one about whiskers:
Many a wolf
Is never let in
Because of the hair
The writers of these jingles remain unrecognized, but the advertising was both clever and effective. Even as a young child I got the meanings.
In the modern world of advertising, sometimes messages, and even products, are presented in such vague terms and images that all meaning is obscured. No recent advertisement I’ve viewed on television ever replays in my mind.
Maybe advertising executives need to consider more effective means of conveying their messages in order to create better brand recognition. However, I fear that skillful or amusing might be too much ask in the current laugh track environment of television. Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart delivered clever and funny lines. I fail to find the humor in bad language, ridicule, crudeness, or sexual innuendos. Even slightly humorous would be refreshing.
Okay, so this is another soap box post! Oh well! What can I say? It’s Monday.
This sign for sale on Bonanza