Who Wrote Those Ads?

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.

                                    Don’t stick
                                    Your elbow
                                    Out too far
                                    It might go home
                                    In another car
                                    Burma Shave

                                    Dead right
                                    As he sped along
                                    But he was just as dead
                                    As if he’d been wrong
                                    Burma Shave

And one about whiskers:

                                    Many a wolf
                                    Is never let in
                                    Because of the hair
                                    On his
                                    Burma Shave

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


  1. I thought you meant "laugh track environment"; but on second thought, laugh tack seems about right.

    A certain quite high percentage of today's tv commercials totally elude me. I've no idea what they are selling.

    Perhaps the reason no attempt is made to build brand recognition lies in the likelihood that the brand will be changed, the company name will be changed, even though the product, now "new and improved" is still the same.

    Oh, my. I feel a reciprocal soap-box coming on.

    1. Ha, ha, Vanilla. You should have been an English teacher. Since my last computer update, if I pause mid-word while typing, a word might be filled in for me. My preferred word then becomes a program preferred word. This happened multiple times while I was trying to post this entry. Also, I tend to read what I am sure I typed. : )

      I think this must be a recent problem with Apple products. A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted from an Apple product to her Facebook page and then discovered that more than one word was filled in for her while she typed. One of the words was not very nice. She removed the post and apologized.

      Now off to try to reset the correction feature on my computer. Old lady is still trying!

  2. ...and yet most of my Apple acquaintances (you being an exception) go on and on ad nauseum about the superiority of their product/system over mine. I say to each her or his own.

    1. For the most part I like my machine, especially the quick connections. However, today while typing to friends on Facebook, the following words were automatically changed while I typed: "ail" for will; "fill" for film; "suiting" for dusting (as in a dusting of snow); "say" for saw; and "repine" for repin (as in repining on Pinterest).

      I think maybe the substitutions occur when I hesitate in the middle of a word. I type quickly (thank you Miss Phelps) and the program automatically enters what it is programmed to chose for me when I don't finish a word quickly. I don't catch the substituted words until I finish - if I catch them at all.

      This makes for a lot of extra editing and I don't know how to fix the problem. Darn you smart machine!