Less is More
The greatest things in the world are not advertised because they don’t have to be. People who know about good things know they exist and just buy them.
Certain gas station biscuits. Bacon. Calvin Klein socks. Cormac McCarthy. Twizzlers. I haven’t seen any of these things in an advertisement and I’ll never need to. It’s the heavily promoted things I stay away from. The McRib. Sleep Number beds. Any car dealership. Go Daddy. I don’t trust one of them. If you have to tell me how awesome you are, I won’t believe you. The cool kids in school never told anyone they were cool—they just sat down and their table became the cool table. Because they were, it was. McDonald’s doesn’t regularly tout the Fillet ‘o’ Fish sandwich because connoisseurs of fast food know—Chick-fil-A and Bojangles aside—it’s the pantheon of fast food. (Made grander by the ‘o’ in its name. ie: Land o’ Lakes, man ‘o’ war, O Magazine, Peter O’Toole. The clear exceptions being Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and O Canada.)1 You see, the more you say the less I trust. I trust Hemingway and the guy who made that Tree of Life movie. Ayn Rand, Tolstoy and Proust, not so much. (Exception: DFW. RIP.) All those words create a lot of places for lies to lie. We know there is a reason insurance companies advertise with a regularity akin to the flushing of a crowded frat house toilet.2
Saturating your market or beating your audience over the head with a bunch of words may not always be the best way to get across a message. Just Do It. Three words, and I did it. I paid $140 for a pair of sneakers. (As did the kids at the cool table.) Now, on the other hand, a 30-second, super-hip, plays-every-commercial-break-during-every-national-telecast Bud Light ad, I don’t believe ’em. I get annoyed and buy Natural Light and save three bucks.
Some people are anti-susceptible to advertising. For me, the pimento cheese sandwich in the cooler in the convenient store3 is far more intriguing than the new Wendy’s sandwich and the fries you told me six times last hour are now hand-cut. (You say they’re hand-cut, Wendy’s, but a) I don’t believe you and b) that is a terribly inefficient endeavor as you and your like-minded purveyors of slop seek to strap love handles to every world citizen.)4
So the moral, I suppose, is less is more, or nothing is more. Or don’t give a copywriter a lunch break to write about whatever he wants, or he’ll write this. A writer with free time is how we get beer ads with dancing pretty girls. Free time gives birth to silly things, dancing things.5 Now, I’ll leave you with images of dancing things, as I return to the dancing things and review each one again, to be sure they’re still trash.
1If you gave up fast food or random meats on account of the recent rash of documentaries voicing disdain for places that feed people quickly, good luck in life if you allow knowledge to dictate your happiness consumption. All those documentaries did for me was shorten the drive-thru line.
2See: Politicians are a mass advertising example and another entity easily compared to an ill-kept toilet.
3Click here for more on triangular packaging.
4Another note to Wendy’s: The pigtails are cute. Eyelashes long. Wendy’s, your logo is obviously flirting with me from her billboard perch or silently cooing from the television screen. But this is the 2010s, and the high-collared, vertical-striped dress with the pearl broach at the neck has to go. You’re selling burgers, Wendy’s, or Wendy, specifically, not auditioning for a part in a stage reprisal of Little Women.
5Free time for a copywriter also consists of looking up “nonsense” in Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus and laughing at all the funny words.