. . . Death Wish in American Publicity Material

. . .

Amazon travel mug The death wish of Amazon Books & Garden Tools has swollen past themselves and their investors to the point of sending subliminal suicidal messages to their own customers! Witness the back of this ungainly plastic travel mug mailed to the Kokonino household as a "gift":
absurd, then there is NO hope
die tomorrow.

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The Death Wish in American Publicity Material: Part 2 in an Occasional Series

Perennial Journal

Those who haven't triggered the proper marketing traps won't be familiar with Levenger -- a stationery store aimed at nouveaux riches -- and its catalog of "Tools for Serious Readers."

Even for yuppie junk mail, Levenger's copy is overripe, redolent of leather everything (including leather manila envelopes -- "rather like changing Eliza Doolittle from East End flower girl to Ascot lady... will burnish beautifully the more it's handled"), splattered with $90 ball point pens, and bedecked with sepia-toned celebrity portraits. Be as happy as Henry James! as suave as Robert Louis Stevenson! as elegant as Sir Isaac Newton!

And for the most part the photographed samples of what's achievable with a little intellectual leverage from Levenger are what you'd expect given such heady role models. On "the BMW of folios" someone's noted that "Each new product will be involved in a series of meetings from concept to final update"; "Monumental Letters with Pedestals" construct the message "ASPIRE"; the "lighthearted Innovation gel pen" has written "Discuss strategy with Internet group," "Confirm flight reservation" is written on "a delicious temptation of color and texture" (i.e., notepad), and "5 year plan - Goal?" is written with "Rotring's impeccable style"....

But in The Perennial Journal ("a luscious cream stock... with gilded edges for lasting beauty"), the target consumer's mask slipped:

"One less bell to answer. One less egg to fry. Isn't that how the song goes? Not that I fried eggs anyway. Too much fat and cholesteral. But I digress... I'm just trying to keep my mind busy with other thoughts, I suppose. I'm not meant to live alone, to have everything to myself. Some would say I am lucky now, but all I can do is cry." I am lucky

. . .

Zoloft   What time is it?
  When time endlessly vanishes into a dark featureless void, each moment hopelessly indistinguishable from the next....
  Why, it's Zoloft time!
  [none-too-subliminal marketing swag via the generous donation of Kate Small]

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The Death Wish in American Publicity Material

Part 3 in an Occasional Series

Very occasional, given our eccentric avoidance of most American publicity material.

Which is why we only learned via tough-as-nails correspondent Beth Rust that HP Digital Photography has taken the Kinks' caustic "Picture Book":

Picture book
    of people with each other
    to prove they loved each other
    a long time ago...

Picture book:
    Your mama and your papa
    and fat old Uncle Charlie
    out boozing with their friends...

Picture book:
    When you were just a baby
    those days when you were happy
    a long time ago...

And rubbed it in by overlaying footage of isolated narcissists with a swooping attack of "YOU", "YOU", "YOU"s....


what is vermont?

Better to ask, what isn't Vermont? 'Cause Vermont's got it all, baby!

Picture Book: Oh, Hotsie Totsie, the HP campaign is even worse than you describe. The visual schtick for these ads is a sort of Sherlock Jr/Purple Rose of Cairo break-the-plane video trick, where protagonists hold up prints, which magically dissolve into video or stills of the subject and the print becomes an empty frame. Of course, prior to the Kinks' song, HP used The Cure's "Pictures of You", which was a song about how *useless* pictures were to replace memories, which are in turn useless to replace the real presence of a person now gone.

Lyrics, other than a short catch phrase don't matter: just the feeling from the song. The assumption is that the audience won't even try to connect any kind of meaning with the song, but will cut and paste the feeling. Go back to Nike using the Beatles "Revolution" for the ultimate sell-out to mass consumption, $150 sneakers, etc.

It makes me ponder the series of product/song combinations you could advertise with songs with a message completely *opposite* of the sales implications of the product. Heck, we could find whole campaigns just in the Kinks' Korpus:

"I'm Not Like Everybody Else" -- Advertiser: The US Army, for it's "Army of One" campaign.

"Lola" --- Advertiser: Korbel Champagne. Visuals show two attractive people hooking up over the proferred beverage.

"Village Green Preservation Society" -- Advertiser: Walmart, announcing new stores.

"David Watts" -- Advertiser: US Department of Education, in support of 'No Child Left Behind'

"Well Respected Man" -- Advertiser: Apple, in a follow-up to its "Think Differently" campaign. Ads will show a conservatively-dressed man gyrating wildly while wearing his iPod.

Your pal,

- Renfrew Q. Hobblewort.

the 'prove they loved each other' line is even in the commercial...

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The Death Wish in American Publicity Material

Part 4 in an Occasional Series

Matt Wall submits:

TV commercial hawking Heineken beer, featuring "two free music downloads from Rhapsody dot com" with every 12-pack purchase, which is running on various sporting event channels right now.

The opening graphic is of an EKG, which flatlines, to the sound of

"And now they're trying to take my life away"

and then the rest of the lyrics and music are unintelligible. As far as I know, this is not a well-known song.

. . .

Taxonomy? 'At's-a no good. Tax on-a you, she's more better.

Silenus and friend

I usually classify myself as a trimodal organism: peevish, giddy, and avuncular.

Possibly, however, the second and third states could be collapsed into silenian. If I'd been the first to get this idea for a company, I'd have incoporated even if it is a little like when a co-worker named his consulting firm "Sadistic Software". Me: "Do you think that's wise?" Him: "Why? Everyone loves sadism!")


The link to the consulting firm isn't original with me, but for the life of me I can't remember or uncover who supplied it. Was it you?

It was me... I presumptuously took over the Death Wish in American Publicity Material while the usual provider was in other climes.

Keep the home fires burning!

Does one bring the wine and garlands, or do they supply?

All team members are expected to bring value to the table at Silenus. The lead consultant will stay under it to coordinate.

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The Death Wish in American Publicity Material : Part 6 in an Occasional Series

The future of the novel lies here

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The Death Wish in American Publicity Material : Part 7 in an Occasional Series

Bank of America bus-stop kiosk ads:

The smart way to keep your money in check


And for Part 8, master film writer Juliet Clark points to the Jeanne Dielman Criterion Collection Cooking Video Contest. One can only wonder what other categories of amateur video might be inspired by Chantal Akerman's masterpiece....

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The Death Wish in American Publicity Material : Part 9 in an Occasional Series

Jessie Ferguson sends evidence that the process is accelerating:

Alisa Weilerstein is not just a rising star. She is a shooting star.


Is it a South American emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus) or is it a green tree python?????


. . .

The Death Wish in American Publicity Material : Fahrenheit 70

Part 10 in an Occasional Series

From "Restoration Hardware Home, Introducing the Spring Collection":

Library Media System $3745

What's that you say? "Yes, I desperately want to look like the illiterate dead end of an inbred aristocracy, but my parents were only investment bankers"? Well, we've got you covered, you should pardon the expression:

NEW - Set of 4 Antiqued Uncovered Book Bundles $29

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The Death Wish in American Publicity Material :
Land Is Your Safest Investment

Ask the man who owns one. From "AimLoan Online Mortages Spring 2010 Newsletter":

Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love! - Sitting Bull
Part 12 in an Occasional Series


Part 11 was kindly supplied by Peli.

And thank you, anonymous rider, for this:

AimLoan: you'll never be disappointed.

. . .

The Death Wish in American Publicity Material

Part 13 in an Occasional Series

From the back of a junk mail envelope:

AAA Insurance: Outsmart Life (TM)

For once the odds are on our side.


Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
Public domain work remains in the public domain.
All other material: Copyright 2015 Ray Davis.