Tuesday, October 5, 2021

On pearls, mushrooms and T-shirts.

I've been unfortunate enough to witness the slow death of advertising. That is, the abandonment of what some call legacy media , TV, radio, print and outdoor boards, in favor of 3 & 1/2" screens, 15 second Tok Tok videos, microscopic internet banners and Carpel Tunnel syndrome-inducing emails, or what most call spam.

It has not been pretty. 

One of my nostalgic colleagues, let's call him Gregg, regularly posts classic print ads from the past and longingly asks where the art and craftsmanship of that era has gone? I'd have a few choice words on that matter but I don't want to say anything that would risk my current stage of under-employment. 

Last week he put up this gem. 

A beauty I remember from the 90's and the many awards book annual it appeared in. It was written by Kara Goodrich, a legend in copywriting circles. And someone whose style I admired and freely mimicked. Correction, I would have mimicked, had I 1/10th the talent.

Full disclosure: Kara is friends with my good friend Jean Robaire, and we met not long ago at a fancy party, exchanged pleasantries and made the waiter with the appetizers come to a full stop while we gorged on piggies in a blanket and hoidy toidy mushroom/cheese canopies.

Do yourself a favor and blow the picture (above) up and read each and every carefully chosen word. And while you're at it, take time to admire the art direction and the utter precision of it all.

That's all gone. Supplanted by half-assed, slapped-together garbage that in many cases doesn't require anything more than a stock photo and a rudimentary knowledge of Apple Preview. Something, I can do.

Even sadder, and a clear indication that I don't know what I'm talking about, the new breed of advertising works. And by that I mean it rings up the register.

Case in point. 

I don't know how the Facebook algorithm knows that I have a closet full of ratty T-shirts, with worn out collars and the occasional coffee stain. Maybe my wife has been sending them missives. How else can I explain the barrage of ads that show up in my feed proclaiming The World's Best T-Shirt?

Moreover, many of these T-shirt companies know the pain points to hit. Namely fat guys with dad bods who don't want to look like fat guys with dad bods. 

And so a few weeks ago, in a rare moment when I found myself with some disposable cash, I pulled the trigger. 

Just for edification, that's not me in the picture. With an overabundance of chest hair, now Santa Claus white, I'm not cut out for V-neck t-shirts. I don't think I've ever spent this much money on a damn T-shirt. Prior to this I had always been a Hanes Beefy T, 3-pack kind of guy. But I must say I'm now a convert.

The shirts were soft. Mostly cotton, for maximum breathability. And incredibly flattering. Tighter around the chest and the sleeves yet looser around the torso, where evidence of my love of beer and fatty beef ribs and genetically enhanced habanero peppers continues to accumulate.

I was so pleased I went back for more. This time purchasing the more formal T-shirts that they call, and for all I know it may a fashion term known to everyone in the world but me, the Henley. These too were a welcome addition to my wardrobe, such as it is.

I am a happy customer. But the good people at Fresh Clean Tees could not leave well enough alone. Now they are sending me emails. Sometimes twice a day. I don't want to join your "club". I don't want to hear about 10% discounts. And I don't have any interest in the new colors you're introducing. 

I did what I suspect most people do -- hunted down that Unsubscribe button and went back to pining for the good ole days.


Mike Zimmerman said...

Not only advertising is dying...
Looking at the images in the ad, most of them couldn't be done today, as there's very few photographers left that know how to use a "studio technical camera" formerly known as a 4x5 camera... Most tilt -shift lenses don't have the ability to do a true Scheimpflug movement, as the camera back is fixed... today's photographers would be at a loss to draw that much depth-of-field for what we thought of as oh, yeah, we can do that kind of a job... We used to be Photographers, now we're "content producers..."

Baby bed head said...


I teach multiple copy classes at The Circus. Have for many years. Like you, I'm a huge Goodrich fan. Every ad in the SC&L series makes me envious because they are all equally incredible. What's more astonishing, Kara told me how she would have to carefully change out words or lines to fit the meticulous art direction. There was no way to simply move things around digitally. Like that would ever happen today? Thankfully, Kara was generous enough to send me the electronic files of the ads. I make my students study them - with magnifying glass in hand.