Will Rogers never met an ad man he liked.

February 21, 2009 at 2:21 am Leave a comment

Sometimes I quote Will Rogers in presentations. Not the bits that everyone knows–”I never met a man I didn’t like” or “All I know is what I read in the papers.” These just make me tired. Rogers said something that is much more interesting and frankly useful when I find myself attempting to persuade a client not to do something that I know in my bones is a bad idea. It goes as follows:

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

I doubt Rogers would approve of anything he said being used by an ad man (even though in his time he was a dominant media figure on the order of Oprah Winfrey). Below is part of a column he wrote during the 1920s on our dark art. As you’ll see, he was not a fan (Note: I have preserved his idiosyncratic capitalization and punctuation):

“You can’t go to bed, you can’t get up, you can’t brush your Teeth without doing it to some Advertising Slogan. We are even born nowadays by a Slogan: ‘Better Parents have Better Babies.’ Our Children are raised by a Slogan: ‘Feed your baby Cowlicks Malted Milk and he will be another Dempsey.’ Everything is a slogan and of all the Bunk things in America the Slogan is the Champ.

“Even if you want to get married a sign will stare you in the face: ‘You get the girl, we will furnish the ring.” That has led more Saps astray than any misinformation ever published….

“You see a fool Slogan can get you into anything. But you never heard of a Slogan getting you out of anything. It takes either Bullets, Hard Work or Money to get you out of anything. Nobody has ever invented a Slogan to use instead of paying your taxes.”

Entry filed under: Advertising and Marketing. Tags: , .

“An Angry Voice” is silenced in Egypt. Here’s why you should care. Roll over, Gutenberg. Step aside, Farnsworth. There’s a new sheriff in town.

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February 2009

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