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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Tuesday, February 10, 2009 • Posted February 10, 2009

The Ad’s the Thing…

Column #302 for Release Saturday, February 7, 2009, or Later

It takes a monumental event like the Super Bowl to spotlight clever ads. When the TV network can sell a full regimen at $100,000 per second, creative juices at advertising agencies flow like raging rivers roaring down the mountains at spring thaw.

Message sophistication is light years ahead of pioneer efforts remembered when radio was king.

During our growing-up years, ads were typically jingles, punctuated by short, punchy messages. For decades, Maxwell House boasted that the coffee it roasted was “good to the last drop.”…

  • * * * *

Lever Brothers sold tons of detergent with this simple ditty: “Rinso white, Rinso bright, happy little wash day song.”

Ivory Soap’s simple claim—”It floats”—worked for years.

Fast-forward to contemporary ad campaigns. Only a few have staying power spanning several years. Clara Peller’s “where’s the beef?” question was a centerpiece for Wendy’s hamburgers, and Discount Tire Company has gotten good mileage from the ad showing a “woman” heaving a tire through the showroom window. “She” graphically illustrates the company’s offer to make a full refund for any reason. (The person tossing the tire is actually a man.)…

  • * * * *

Motel Six “leaves the light on for us,” and Southwest Airlines reminds regularly that we are free to move about the country.

When I call Southwest, the wait to talk to a “real” person is worth it. The sensible music soothes, and occasional “factoids” make me laugh.

During one such recent call, I broke into full-blown laughter with this pronouncement: “You are now free to move your phone around to the other ear.”…

  • * * * *

A dozen years ago, our men’s basketball team at Howard Payne University qualified for a national small-college tournament in Nampa, ID.

As HPU president, I was always yammering about the need to be ever vigilant in putting the squeeze on every dollar, including travel.

We took sack lunches as we hopped, skipped and jumped across the map from Dallas to Boise….

  • * * * *

There were four stops and a plane change, but hey, we had more time than money.

Alas, our team was eliminated in the first game.

Then, we began the circuitous flight home, this time with peanuts only. Noting that we had a 30-minute lay-over at Houston Hobby Airport before the final leg to Dallas, I hatched a plan for the team to enjoy giant pizzas there between planes. No, not airport pizza, but the good stuff deeply discounted by coupons.

I called Jeremy Denning, an honor graduate who was in medical school there at the time. I asked him to bring a dozen giant pizzas to the airport. And he did….

  • * * * *

If this scenario were to be repeated today, I wouldn’t hesitate a second to ask Dr. Denning for the same favor, though I imagine he’d send a stand-in.

He has always been as humble and gentle as anyone I’ve ever known.

At age 36, he’s now a leading neurosurgeon in Dallas, cited recently as one of D Magazine’s “top docs.”…

  • * * * *

We laugh later about travel experiences that whiten knuckles at the time. Once while en route from DFW to Washington D. C., our plane began a sudden descent about 20 minutes into the flight.

The plane was 100% full, and ashen stares were exchanged when the pilot announced a possible emergency before releasing oxygen masks. They all fell, except one: mine.

I glanced toward my wife, who quickly got her mask in place, albeit without the “normal breathing” recommended by attendants during pre-flight drills….

  • * * * *

I asked her to share her oxygen with me. She shook her head negatively with the kind of animation expressed by the Illinois legislature when the governor was booted from office.

During the descent for an unscheduled landing in Oklahoma City, a flight attendant took a screw driver to my oxygen mask compartment, so I lived to tell about it. (Not one of the attendants, it turned out, had ever experienced real-time mask use.)

Soon we were on our way again on a back-up plane. At lunch time, my wife was served first. “You don’t mind if I go ahead and eat, do you?” she asked. “I didn’t mind if you went ahead and breathed, why would I care if you went ahead and ate?” I answered….

  • * * * *

Travel teaches many lessons.

One was provided at Brownwood Regional Airport.

I learned NOT to purchase potato chips from vending machines at airports logging four boardings on an average day….

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. Send inquiries and comments to: newbury@speaerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web Site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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