With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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I make most of my money from advertising. I know, I know. A lower form of enterprise is hard for many to imagine. Especially for a writer. Well, I’ll tell you this: for a writer unencumbered by ideological purity, it can be a damn fine business. As a writer, I know of no other business that puts such strict requirements on my talents. There are all kinds of constrictions. Time. Space. Number of letters in a line. Precision. Style. Persuasiveness. Limits, everywhere. That’s why I love it. Advertising demands that a writer make points clearly, convincingly and usually in the fewest possible words. If other professions required as much, our language might be in better shape.
I thought you might be interested in the struggles of a writer in pursuit of the Perfect Ad. What follows are the copywriter’s equivalent of what in other media they call “out-takes.” Rejects. Stuff from the cutting room floor. In this case, from the drawer under the typewriter. Herewith, a few of my own:
For a plant shop ad:
You know, it is possible to make your house green with plants that won’t rob you of carbon dioxide and die if they don’t get light. That’s right. I’m talking about growing your own plastic plants in your own home, just like the ones you get at the store. The people who make Plastigrow Instant Plants have worked for years to develop imitation leaves and stalks and flowers that do everything but taste like the real thing — which is fine too, because they won’t poison your children. Plastigrow Instant Plants don’t need light, or air or love. All they need is an occasional dusting and a weekly blowtorch treatment. Write away now for a complete catalog of Plastigrow Instaplants. Just send your name and address to Box .04, Times Square Station, Montana 88242.
For a car:
The amazing new Coggin Barcelona is the best thing you ever saw wrapped around a bridge abutment on the interstate. The Coggin Barcelona comes complete with a 200-cylinder overbribe, an inverse fanster, a Schwebel & Edgar manic depressive and a rear end that’ll hang twelve with no sweat at all. The Coggin Barcelona comes with all this and elegance too. Matching seats and carpets. Padded cells. Running water. Three and a half bedrooms. And a price tag you won’t believe until you pay it. The Coggin Barcelona. 35 roads per mile in the city, 25 hours per year on the road, according to EPA lab tests. The Coggin Barcelona. At your Dord Feeler.
For a loudspeaker model:
The new Zerad booklike Speaker represents over a thousand years of electronic development and expertise from the engineers at the world-famed Boonivax Laboratories. The people behind the Zerad booklike Speaker are hiding there so you won’t see them. They know that no loudspeaker, no matter how advanced, is perfect. So they back every unit with a trained engineer to sing the parts the speaker misses. Of course, no expense is spared in Zerad Speaker construction. Every speaker cabinet is made from the finest molybdemn steel-plastic alloy, and is filled with specially designed helium-ozone spansules for maximum sound dyslexion. Boonivax engineers have tried to get back to basics, to what speakers are all about. Every Boonivax woofer is made of 100% doghide and the tweeter consists of a fine-grain hawkskin membrane stretched over a sparrowbone structure. The result is sound as pure as night. The Zerad booklike Loudspeaker system, from Boonivax Laboratories. Only $600 each at all rectangular sound shops in the Quadrangle area.
Alternate Lifestyle Promo:
Listen. I’ll admit it. Sure. I take drugs. I have to. I’m a housewife. And after a day of beating the kids at home and combat at the shopping center, I’m ready for a hit just before Big Creep come home. And nothing satisfies my needs like Sutters Brainwash. Only Sutters combines just the right amount of ups and downs with the minimum daily requirement of nickel-fortified hallucinotrophic Vitamin Rx that every woman needs. If you’re a harried housewife, find instant liberation with Sutters Brainwash. In capsule, ointment or suppository form. From Union Canibide.
Public Service Announcement:
(Voice like actors think bankers ought to sound.)
Hello. I’m Kyle Whitlock for your local Antimatter League. You know, there are lots of ways to fight reality. Some people use drugs. Others commit suicide. But thousands of people just like you have avoided reality altogether just by joining their local Antimatter League. Remember, life is no laughing matter. Discover the meaning behind the Antimatter League slogan, “Nothing matters.” And when your Antimatter League volunteer calls, remember, “It’s a death of life . . . and matter.”