How To Be An Advertising Pro in your own pee-break

I just loitered across the most ludicrous piece of advertising copywriting since leaving the land of Truth Entertainingly Told.

In fact, I even made a video of me badly acting this $100-an-hour piece of unintentional Saturday Nite Live satire. Have a perve (3 Mb Quicktime movie) , as we say downunder.

For those ill-equipped with the technology to see my C-grade performance, I reproduce the copy below. Put on your best Platoon garb, grab a whistle, strap on your Smith & Wesson and read with the trepidation of someone about to pull a big fat trigger on some Donalds and Daisy's out minding their own business ...

As long as you're looking up, a little prayer couldn't hurt.

You called. Begged. Pleaded. You did whatever it took to get them back, and now there's a whistling of wings coming your way fast. Though it might be your last chance, it's the only one you'll need now you're loaded three-deep with new UltraShok TM. It's from Federal Premium, the world leader in premium ammunition. Designed specifically for ducks flying high and fast, UltraShok's heavy high-velocity shells are the fastest, hardest-hitting, longest reaching plated steel loads out there. So, please rise. Click that safety. It's time for the closing hymn. To find your nearest premium ammunition dealer, visit


Now I am not a the most rabid of environmentalists, feminists, animal liberationists or otherists but I tell you, this page made my hair curl and that's pretty darn hard to do with a gravity-loving Asiatic broomhead like mine.

Some might say, what would you know - this probably talks to the target market. True, the one or two hunters I have met are a singular sort, and I wouldn't want to get on the non-squeezing end of that safety. But come on, this is just wacky. As in, someone's been wacking off over their keyboard. It's clear that a Madison Avenue type wrote this. Bloody advertising wankers. They're probably sipping a Coors back at the hunting lodge as I type.

So what would YOU do I hear you say? Well, for a start I'd hide in the reeds and beg for the Pampers or Hot Pockets account. This has gotta be worse than having to write ads for cigarettes, though Death cigarettes did it beautifully, with their (in not so many words) 'Smoking will kill you, but that's your choice. If you make that choice, Death cigarettes offer you the highest quality ...'. I should go check if Death was actually a spoof. If I cared about sales I would have called it Pearly Gates Menthol just counter the undeniable morbidity of it. Otherwise, calling it Death is being true to the concept.

ON speaking to the hunter who owned this magazine, he spoke not of the joys of "disemfowling" with a plated steel load but of all the wetlands restoration work this industry apparently bolsters. In my mind I'd still have to block out that faint gargling quaaarrrrkkgggggghhhs of Dying Donalds as I gazed from my eco-platform at the National Geographicesque wetlands panorama before me. This man had a very nice pet Mallard in his living room that refused to quack or even flinch a muscle no matter how hard I poked at it.

My ex-beau just piped up (as he steps over my hastily packed suitcases with an armload of Ebay bootie) "Hey, people do what they do, to do what they instinctively do, which is hunt." That's a lotta human doing. I guess bargain hunting falls into this category ... move in for the Ebay kill ...

SO what makes a good ad? Well, we've all seen those multi-million dollar award-winners on SuperBowl etc, but I want to praise a simple ad I encountered when I reached for a new toilet roll today. Scratching at the glued end, as we do to release the first sheet, a small coupon smiled at me from Sheet #3:

Now did you ever see anything more direct, succinct yet charming. This is not rocket science. This is pure communication. Sure, there would have been a million opportunities to make a witty, satirical poop joke, with the wit of Richard Branson in his disarming Virgin ads:

and a few years ago I would have had a field day doing just that, viz: "Ain't this a pain in the ass?" or "Emptying your roll more often that your bowel?" or even "Wipe out Less Trees" with an chart showing cardboard cylinder vs wood pulp consumption.

But no. This piece of direct marketing was either written by a pro, or someone who is so limited they would not know how to make it more sophisticated if they tried. I like to think it's the former. The art direction is excellent - it's a little hokey, winking at you, knowing that to discover this coupon as you're about to wipe your ass is comedic in itself. I mean, look at that drawing of the little cardboard cylinder. A simple line drawing would have taken away the charm and been too clinical. A photo would have been too dull and literal. This is art direction sensibly applied.

The only error was not making the 'peel back here' tab easier to open. It lacked a slit (erm) so I had to sit on the can a while longer poking at it with my fingernail to prise it open. And this is what it revealed:

MEGAROLL! With a Charmin' bear hugging it. One of these big mothers equals 4 of the spin-it-once-and-it's-empty kind. The only concern was that with such a fat roll, would it actually fit on the holder? You know those annoying giant public toilet rolls they double up but are so heavy you can't even pull out a single sheet? Well, there's a limited space there between the wall and many-a roll holder in many a family home. I would have added a cross-promotional item - buy this Special Charmin MegaRoll HOLDER complete with lovable cloisonne ButtBear or whatever he's called smiling out at you, saying 'Time for another Mega Roll!' when you finally get to the end.

How would I have improved this piece of advertising?

I would have made the coupon appear on the inner cardboard core instead. Every last one of them.

Makes me wish I was back in advertising. Where's that resume ...

BTW, I am fully aware I might be sitting in the crosshairs of some duck destroyer after my appraisal of the Federal Premium ad. That's what you get for being a proponent of the T.E.T. - Truth Entertainingly Told.

More Charmin' marketing genius


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