On Holiday Ads
I don’t have the full-blown loathing of the holiday season that seems to affect so many people, but there is one annual event that drives me absolutely mad: Marketing professionals turning their hands and hearts to holiday-style poetry.
I have nothing against marketing professonals. I work with plenty of them and I fully respect their knowledge and what they do, but kids, poetry isn’t it. It’s as if they’ve never heard of any elements necessary to poetic expression outside of rhyme.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and if you need your own house;
Our APR is so low it couldn’t even frighten a mouse.
I understand why they do things like this – it’s cheap, it’s easy, the ad’s not going to run more than a month, and nobody wants to put forth a whole lot of effort when they’re full of turkey. Seriously, though, putting out doggerel like this makes it sound like you stuffed your turkey with crystal meth.
Hark the herald angels sing,
Your wife wants nothing more than an authentic diamond ring.
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
Come to McSweeney’s Jewelers and we bet she’d go wild!
I also understand that they might not be to blame. We’ve all had brilliant ideas turned into crap by committee, more than once. It’s possible that this is the job given to novice copywriters, the ones who really did pay attention in their English classes, who breathe a sigh of relief and flex their fingers to crank out a loving, note-by-note tribute to Dickens with their ad, failing to notice the older, wiser fellows laughing bitterly up their sleeves and sipping Wild Turkey from a hidden bottle, waiting for the hammer to fall.
What a beautiful sight,
She’ll be on that night,
Driving in her new Mercedes-Benz CLS Class Coupe.
There are also limitations. If the client insists that you mention the product by its entire name, rather than simply highlighting awareness of the brand or store, then you’re going to have some trouble fitting everything in – but in that case, what’s the payoff to using the verse form?
It’s my opinion that most of these folks realize that the holiday songs are catchy – they get stuck in your head, which would seem to make them ideal candidates for translation into marketing jingles. However, they don’t seem to understand what makes them catchy. It’s not the rhymes, and it’s not necessarily the familiarity most of us have with the tune.
A well-crafted song or poem gets caught in your head because it flows. It uses the meter and rhythm to propel itself through your consciousness, following a pattern which lends itself to smooth repetition. When you add even a single syllable to one line, you both interrupt the pattern recognition being experienced by the listener and throw off the setup of the following lines. Doing this even once is enough to turn people off of the ‘revised’ song, do it throughout and you’ll be responsible for replacing people’s radios after they’re thrown onto the Toys R Us parking lot.
Well … you would be, if I were in charge.
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