Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why advertising is good for everyone.

Ah, Sunday morning. Time to peel back the covers, stagger out to the kitchen, brew up a strong pot of coffee, traipse through the living room and pry open the front door to be greeted by the most patient of friends—the Sunday paper.

I set the stack down on the dining room table, remove the inner ad guts and cast them aside. The meat of the day's news now lies before me like a de-veined jumbo prawn. I scan the headlines above the front fold and hastily flip to the sports section. Turning to page two, I peruse top to bottom, top to bottom.

I'm a little different than most when it comes to reading newspaper advertisements. I've worked in the ad world for twenty years, so my eye tends to wander to spots on the page most people don't notice.

Two black and white ads sit at the bottom of page three, competing yet compatible. The first promotes Gene Juarez gift cards, stating "Shine, when you give her the gift that she's been waiting for." Directly to the right of Gene is an equally sized spot for Seattle Male Medical Clinic: "We guarantee 45 minute to two-hour performance and these medications work within ten minutes."

Hello, recipe for success! First, I know most guys don't like wrapping presents, but wrap the gift card. Then take the pill. Quickly slip into your tuxedo so you look as much like Chuck Woolery as possible. Walk debonairly into the kitchen where she's busy canning herring in her bathrobe. Hand her the gift. Ask her to open the gift with a minimum of small chat and watch her face transform. She may look quite puzzled at your gesture, but trust me, she'll be ready...and so will you.

If it weren't for these types of print advertising, as understated as they are, we'd have a lot more unfulfilled people in our midst. We're busy. We want to know what's going on in the world, and we want to know why our "amp" only goes to five when it used to go to eleven. One-stop shopping is alive and well in the Sunday sports section.

Once I hit the obituaries, I'm open to just about any type of solicitation, since I know that everything I've seen has been highly effective. I'm not disappointed. It's not a huge ad; it's barely larger than a postage stamp, but the message is simple: "Complete cremation, from $597."

Thank God. I'll never forget how, when I was around ten, my great aunt asked for only a partial cremation of my great uncle, and how the urn was the size of a barrel. She was quite fond of him, so she kept him in the corner, next to her stack of People magazines that would "someday be valuable on eBay."

Since my great aunt was quite lonely and loved to cook for our family, we were compelled to visit her every Sunday. After one such visit, including a wonderful dinner of chicken broccoli casserole and cling peaches, my brother and I retired to her living room for some spirited "rough housing."

He pushed me hard in the chest, and I lost balance and tumbled into my great uncle's urn. It slowly tipped onto its side and awkwardly rolled in a semi circle on the shag carpet. The vessel was hermetically sealed, but the sounds of moving, partially cremated remains haunt me to this day. The only way I can describe it is the sound an uncleaned cat box would make if you shook it a little. My great aunt handled it well, but I could tell she resented my great uncle's undignified, impromptu stroll and the way my dad struggled to not laugh.

I digress. As I've expounded upon in the above examples, printed communications cannot and should not be rendered obsolete. Please don't allow such a valuable resource to join the ranks of the cassette tape and Blockbuster Video.

Support your local newspapers. And get the full cremation.

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