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The Boys From Marketing Strike Back! Poetry Time

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by ChiTownScion, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

    Midwest America
    I confess a love for the poems of Rudyard Kipling- both reading them and reciting them- and one of my favorites is "Tommy," the classic statement by a common soldier about insensitive and unappreciative civilians. I'll include the text of it further in this thread, but I came across (what I believe to be) a splendid parody of it.. dealing with admen. I naturally thought of our Miss Lizzie and her antagonism toward "the Boys"... so I post it here for her- and everyone else's, enjoyment.

    by Rollie Abrahams
    orig. pub. Printer’s Ink, January 23, 1953
    Republished: Martin Gardner’s Favorite Poetic Parodies, by Martin Gardner

    I walked into a Men’s Club for half a drop of cheer.
    The steward shook his nose and said, “We serve no salesmen here.”
    The men behind the armchairs harumphed, and snorted fit to die.
    I outs into the street again and to myself says I:

    Oh, it’s huckster this, and huckster that, and huckster, go away.
    But it’s “Thank you Mr. Adman,” when the ads begin to play.
    The ads begin to play, boys, the ads begin to play.
    Then it’s “Thank you Mr. Adman,” when the ads begin to play.

    I stepped into a lecture hall to hear a bit of sense.
    A college prof is steaming off, in learned eloquence.
    He’s saying, “Advertising is a tool for men of greed
    To make the people spend their dough on things they do not need.”

    Yes, it’s huckster this, and huckster that, and huckster you don’t count.
    (But we make for better products when the facts begin to mount.)
    The facts begin to mount, boys, the facts begin to mount.
    Then it’s “Higher standard of living,” when the facts begin to mount.

    The idealistic editor is crying in his cups
    That he has to slant his story for those advertising pups.
    He can’t think of an instance, but he knows the danger’s near,
    For the ads pay for his writers, his production- and his beer!

    So it’s huckster this and huckster that and huckster spare my door!
    But it’s “Get another page in!” when the presses start to roar.
    The presses start to roar, boys, the presses start to roar.
    It’s, “Ads have made our paper big!” when the presses start to roar.

    The family’s seated cozily around the TV set
    Enjoying top flight comedy, or music from the Met.
    To pay for theater seats when they’ve got this would be absurd.
    But it’s “Damn those damned commercials!” when the sponsor says a word.

    For it’s huckster this and huckster that and huckster, you’re a bore!
    But it’s “Get the game on TV, boys, I want to know the score!
    I want to know the score, boys!” (If he wants to know the score,
    The adman makes the shows for him, if he wants to know the score.)

    When mother goes out shopping she is careful of her brands
    The ads have told her what is good in words she understands.
    They’ve mentioned the ingredients, the uses, and the price.
    But Father says, “Before you buy a famous brand, think twice.”

    For it’s huckster this and huckster that, and “Darling, use your head.
    You pay for advertising when you buy that brand of bread.”
    But it costs her no more money when she buys that brand of bread…
    Ads make for mass production, keeping prices down instead.

    They call us, “eager beavers,’ and they sometimes call us, “crooks.”
    And they laugh at us in comedies, and damn us in their books.
    We’re the scapegoats of the business world and brash fifteen percenters,
    We’re Fascists, faddists, phonies, and at best we’re hoax inventors.

    We know we’re sometimes upstarts, and we know we’re in our youth,
    But we’ve got to entertain them, and we’ve got to tell the truth.
    They know we do a job for them, in our own peculiar way,
    And it’s “Thank you Mr. Adman,” when the ads begin to play.
  2. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

    Midwest America
    And here's the original by Kipling:


    I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
    The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
    The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

    O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
    But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
    They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
    They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
    But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
    But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
    The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
    O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

    Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
    An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

    Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
    But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

    While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
    But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
    There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
    O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

    You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
    We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

    For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
    But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
    An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
    An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
    MisterCairo likes this.
  3. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

    My mother's basement
    There once was an adman from Nantucket ...
    AbbaDatDeHat and ChiTownScion like this.
  4. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    New Forest
    It might be plagiarism, but it's clever plagiarism, and if it gets youngsters reading the original, then that can only be good. Kipling is well known for "The Jungle Book," and the Disney feature length, cartoon had captured a younger generation, who seemed surprised that the "book" was actually a collection of stories, but they did at least discover Kipling. Tommy, written in the vernacular, must seem light years away from Mowgli.

    There's a wonderful piece of advertising by Policygenius running in New York City subways, featuring poetry and makes fun of itself for not being Longfellow. Given the downtime while commuting, it’s a welcome read, even for jaded New Yorkers. The message comes across, without feeling like you’re being sold to.

    Policygenius creative director John Downing, explained, “Getting insurance has traditionally been a really crummy experience. It was important to us to be as real as possible in how we speak to that with an honest and self-awareness campaign.”
    Added Downing: “We’re a bunch of insurance nerds. Comparing insurance online is easy. Writing poetry is really hard. “

    Their advert reads: "To Compare."
    Fresh Milk
    All these things
    are talked about
    in other subway poems.
    we included them
    in this one
    We have the space
    All we need to say
    is that we make it easy
    to compare life insurance online.

    ChiTownScion likes this.
  5. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    New Forest
    And If you like Kipling, you should read: "If:"

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
    MisterCairo and ChiTownScion like this.
  6. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Do you like Kipling?

    I don't know, I've never kippled.
    Zombie_61, vitanola and Gabe like this.
  7. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    And as for advertising and its contributions to human society, I like what Brother Orwell had to say:

    "Advertising is the stick rattling in the swill bucket."
    Edward, Zombie_61, 3fingers and 2 others like this.
  8. tonyb

    tonyb Vendor

    My mother's basement
    What public presentation ISN’T some form of advertising? Politics to paint schemes to personal hygiene, it’s largely about leaving an impression.

    Remaining mindful of that simple truth better equips a person to separate substance from fluff. We’re rightly suspicious of a person who appears to be more concerned with his appearance than his performance, just as we look askance at a person who too loudly trumpets the virtues of whatever it is he or she is promoting. Protest too much, indeed.
    Zombie_61 and ChiTownScion like this.
  9. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    New Forest
    We have a national baker called Rank,Hovis, McDougall. One of their brands is known as Mr Kipling and the advertising slogan is: Mr Kipling makes exceedingly good cakes, which spawned lots of clever graffiti, Mr Kipling writes exceedingly good poetry is one that comes to mind.

    Just so. Kipling's poem, Tommy, is about Tommy Atkins, that name being a euphemism for the British soldier in WW1. The Germans called the British soldiers, Lions. They called the British generals, donkeys.
    Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE was a senior officer of the British Army. He it was who sent thousands and thousands of troops to their deaths because he didn't understand the meaning of a mechanical war. Despite the heavy losses, Haig continued to fight a 19th century war, sending in fixed bayonets against machine guns.

    An example of early spin is the statue of Haig, astride his horse, in the centre of Whitehall, next to The Cenotaph, in Central London. Wreaths of poppies are laid there every November to commemorate the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in 1918, when the guns fell silent. The poppy represents the wild poppies that grew on the battlegrounds of the conflict. In the centre of the poppy is the motto: "Haig Fund." The motto is no longer there and history has whitewashed Haig's incompetence. So now we all buy our poppies and proudly wear them to show our gratitude. Poor Tommy Atkins, his memory is best summed up by another poem written in 1915 by John McCrae:

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.
  10. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

    Midwest America
    And discerning when one is the target for a bill of goods being sold is a survival skill, whether in the market place, the political arena, academia, or even the church. Realizing that Buffalo Bob or the Captain is at his usual "Hey, kids!" shilling again is a valuable skill for a young child to acquire. There undoubtedly is a loss of innocence, but innocents are the most vulnerable of prey, and learning how to recognize a sales job is a matter of survival.

    My own childhood ended in November of 1963: Johnny Podres of the Dodgers was a hero of mine, and at the start of the month he was busted for drunk driving. I was stunned, but my mother reminded me that our heroes are only human. By the end of the month John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. Illusions shattered, innocence lost, but I hope that I became stronger in the end.
  11. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The work of Dr. Susan Linn is worth mentioning in this context -- she's been a lifelong crusader against marketing to children, and has written a number of books about how to keep kids safe from the evil practices of the Boys, something she considers as essential to their well-being as protecting them from physical hazards in the street. Linn was a disciple of Fred Rogers, and is militant in her beliefs that children must be protected from those who would manipulate and exploit them for profit.
    St. Louis and vitanola like this.
  12. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

    Midwest America
    As a kid, I chafed at any notion that I needed to be protected. At an age when most kids in my lily white suburb weren't allowed to cross certain streets by themselves I was taking the train by myself into downtown Chicago. I loved the adventure of discovery and exploration, but I wanted to do it in a real world where it could have long term application. Other kids wanted to play baseball and football: I preferred riding the elevated and the subway. If someone had wanted to "protect" me from any of that, it would have felt like they were suffocating me.

    Were it up to me I would have taken a part time job at age ten. Not some namby pamby paper route or such, but a real job. I was told that child labor laws had been enacted to "protect" kids my age, and that I'd have to wait until I was sixteen until I could work in a store. I understood why they didn't want me working in a coal mine or a textile mill for fourteen hours at a crack and neglecting my studies, but all I wanted was some extra spending money.

    As a parent, I viewed things quite differently. Perhaps I saw my kids as more vulnerable than I ever was. Most kids need protection, I suppose, at least to some degree.
  13. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

    Midwest America

    Tommy Atkins goes back a while before the Great War. The origin of the nomme de guerre for the British private is the matter of much debate, but Kipling wrote the poem in 1892 (while he was living in the US, actually), and the name predates that. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it was used as an exemplar name in sample forms as early as 1815.
  14. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I did the whole roaming-the-streets-at-large thing myself, as all the kids did in those days, but I always had the sense that the worst harm that could be done to me was the kind that could happen when I was at home. I was very wary, given my father's habits, and I was one of those kids who tried to sleep with her eyes open, if you know what I mean.

    I was also a child of media, though, and I got very wary of that from a very young age. I learned to read from advertising, which I suppose is one thing I can say in its favor, but I also realized early on that advertising wasn't to be trusted. I don't know if it was because of a cereal box toy that wasn't all the Boys said it was, or some send-away gimmick that never showed up, or what, but I knew marketing was bunk before I entered grade school. They were liars, they were professional liars, I knew they were liars, but they got away with it and that made me mad. I suppose that's one reason I gravitated toward "Educational Television" as soon as I realized it was a channel we could get -- my mother certainly never pointed me to it, she had no idea it existed until I tuned it in myself at the age of four. I had a pretty good sense that Mister Rogers and the Friendly Giant weren't going to lie to me, but I always resented when Captain Kangaroo would try to sell me cereal.

    Take a look sometime at some of the "children's videos" on You Tube, disturbing algorithm-created things where Captain America, The Joker, Spider-Man, and Else From Frozen do these weird robotic CGI routines with motorcycles, giant soccer balls and bowling pins, and mysterious signs that say "Cola! It's Infectious!," and watch a toddler sit absolutely goggle-eyed watching them. What are they seeing, and why are they seeing it? Who knows what kind of psychological manipulation is going on, what it's doing to the physical structure of their brains? Allowing some unknown party, some for-profit "content marketer," to interfere with the natural development of your child's mind is, and ought to be legally actionable as, child abuse of the worst kind.
    vitanola likes this.
  15. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

    Midwest America
    You're probably more knowledgeable about this than I am, but there seems to have been a great leap forward in educational television from what I experienced in the mid to late 1950's, and what you saw in the sixties, respectively when we were each preschool age. Prior to the involvement of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting our local educational television station was pretty abysmal.

    Fred Rogers was after my time: I suppose that the closest we had to Mister Rogers was Frances Horwich and Ding Dong School, and that was broadcast on a commercial (NBC affiliate) station. From what I read now, Horwich stood up against the networks when it came to marketing to kids. She was, as one example, fired by NBC when she refused to accept a sponsor who manufactured BB guns.
  16. 2jakes

    2jakes I'll Lock Up

    Alamo Heights ☀️ Texas
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
  17. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The sixties were pretty much the developmental nadir of children's programming -- at the local level most of it was recycled 1930s-40s theatrical cartoons and comedy shorts hosted by indifferent announcers in clown suits, police uniforms, or sea-captain hats, who were just there to fill time. Now, nobody loves 1930s-40s theatrical cartoons and comedy shorts more than I do, but they were made for adults, not for children, and even their most avid enthusiasts have to admit that they don't really offer a child much of anything from a developmental or educational point of view. I wouldn't sit a two-year old down in front of "Tom and Jerry" for all the tea in China. And the hacky kiddie cartoons made for Saturday morning were even worse -- cheap superhero tripe and repetitious so-called comedy wrapped around hard-sell advertising for garbage. I watched it, like we all did, but it didn't do a bit of good for me emotionally or intellectually.

    Captain Kangaroo was the only daily commercial network programming for kids, and it was a cut above all the rest of it, although Bob Keeshan couldn't win every battle he fought with the Boys. And then you had the likes of Romper Room, a franchise deal that existed to sell branded merchandise rather than actually educate the kids it claimed to reach.

    Mister Rogers first showed up on our local Educational TV station in 1967, when I was exactly the right age for it. That channel had been showing the Friendly Giant, an import from Canada, for a couple years before that, and that might have been the first "Educational" show I saw other than the ones where some guy with glasses and an overhead projector offered math lessons. I watched those, too, but they didn't do me much good.

    1966-69 was the real transition period for public TV in the US, with CPB formed in 1967. Nixon, famously, tried to kill it in the bassinet, but Mister Rogers went to Washington and singlehandedly stopped him. But there were still huge swaths of the country, especially in the South and the rural midwest, where public TV had very little presence or influence into the 1980s. "Educational" stations in certain Southern states, famously, refused to carry any programming featuring or dealing with "Negroes," and similar sorts of political censorship at the state level were common elsewhere.
    vitanola likes this.
  18. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    New Forest
    It may not be poetry, but subliminal advertising has been doing similar things, it's just that psyche is difficult to find something that rhymes with itself.
    Marlboro - a blur of ingenuity
    When the EU banned tobacco advertising in July 2005, Marlboro was a sponsor of Ferrari - one of the most successful Formula One racing teams. Keen not to lose out on the visibility of this lucrative partnership, the cigarette brand decided to make the most of a legal loophole.
    Forbidden from plastering the car with the Marlboro logo, the brand opted to stamp a rather peculiar barcode on Ferrari's racing cars.
    marl (1).jpg
    At first glance, this may look like an odd decision, but the barcode bore more than a passing resemblance to the Marlboro logo when flashing past F1 spectators at home and on the track.

    Coca-Cola's risque artwork
    A glistening Coke bottle surrounded by ice and sporting the tagline 'Feel the curves'... what could possibly be wrong with this image?
    Launched in the mid 80s in South Australia, the more suggestive elements of the image went unnoticed for a number of years.
    It was eventually spotted by a driver stuck behind a truck sporting the ad. The driver noticed that one ice cube appeared to hide the image of a woman performing a sex act.
    After its discovery, Coca-Cola, apparently oblivious to this visual allusion, promptly scrapped the advert and launched a complaint against the artist, who soon after lost his job.
  19. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    We had a case in Maine in the 70s where a political candidate distributed literature showing him in an airbrushed glamour-boy headshot -- into which repeated instances of the word "SEX" had been embedded. He denied responsibility for the artwork, but nobody else came forward to claim the honors.

    The author Wilson Bryant Key wrote a book in the early 70s called "Subliminal Seduction," which postulated that this type of stuff was rampant in American print advertising, showing images of ice cubes in liquor ads which he claimed contained grinning skulls, shark heads, nude women, and other psychologically-powerful images. Not everybody was convinced, but I do remember that the pattern of lines in Lincoln's bow tie on the old-style five-dollar bill did contain a pretty clear "SEX" that, once you noticed it, you could never not see again.
  20. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    New Forest
    Prudish America, allowing such a crudity, nonsense! Actually if you look closely at an official picture it seems as though the offending word has been airbrushed out, but someone, somewhere, agrees with you and has put the image up on YouTube.

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