Saturday, 30 May 2015

The Arabian Nights’ Entertainment – Townsend 1899

This book is purely about stories. It is not written in extraordinary language or fancy sentences – just bare stories. (this might be due to the translation though).

Stories are also the currency within this book: “The Sultan of Casgar fell into a passion against the Christian merchant. “Thou art a presumptuous fellow,” said he, “to tell me a story so little worth hearing and then to compare it to that of my jester. I will have you all four impaled, to revenge his death.
Hearing this, the purveyor (one of the four) prostrated himself at the sultan’s feet. “Sire,” said he, “I humble beseech your majesty to suspend your wrath and hear my story; and if it appears to be more extraordinary than that of your jester, to pardon us.” (Townsend, 1899, p.576).

Interestingly, despite stories being of such high value in this book, curiosity (and hence our desire to hear stories) is also described as dangerous: “But we entreat you to forbear opening the golden door; for if you do, we shall never see you again.” (Townsend, 1899, p.80).

The motor of a story only starts, when we try to shape our own destiny and don’t accept that this is in God’s hand. “”I see, Sir,” said I, addressing myself to Saadi, “that it has pleased God, whose ways are secret and impenetrable, that I should not be enriched by your liberality, but that I must remain poor; however, the obligation is the same as if it had wrought the desired effect.” (Townsend, 1899, p.254). “I upbraided myself a hundred times for not being content with the produce of my first voyage, that might have sufficed me all my life. But all this was in vain, and my repentance came too late. At last I resigned myself to the will of God.” (Townsend, 1899, p.407).

The Art of Writing Advertising – Denis Higgins 1965.

The most famous admen – from Bernbach, to Ogilvy and Reeves - do have similar ideas about how to produce advertising. It is interesting to see how the same ideas led to completely different advertising.

“My discipline – all I want is for the idea to convey memorably (and because it’s memorable, it must be fresh and original) the advantage of our product. Now if breaking every rule in the world is going to achieve that, I want those rules to be broken.” (Higgins quoting Bernbach, 1965, p. 20).

“So we never kid ourselves about the magic of advertising. The magic is in the product.” (Higgins quoting Bernbach, 1965, p. 24).

“stress this so-called inherent drama of things because there’s usually something there, almost always something there, if you can find the thing about the product that keeps it in the marketplace. There must be something about it that made the manufacturer make it in the first place, something about it that makes people continue to buy it … capturing that, and then taking that thing – whatever it is – and making the thing itself arresting rather through relying on tricks to do it. “(Higgins quoting Burnett, 1965, p. 44).

“Actually. As I found out after ten minutes’ conversation, the advertising idea was inherent in the product. It was the only candy in America that had chocolate surrounded by a sugar shell. At this point the idea lies on the table in front of you.” (Higgins quoting Reeves, 1965, p. 73).

“All the big companies – realized that the copywriter is almost helpless unless they build the idea into the product.” (Higgins quoting Reeves, 1965, p. 104).

“One, the advertising, not the product, must compete with a tremendous number of other advertising messages. Two, therefore the advertisement, not the product, must get the attention. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Three, therefore a given advertisement, and not the product, must be different.
Such reasoning, bypasses the product, and when it does, it bypasses the advertising function. It is a classical example of confusing the means with the end. For if the product is worth paying money for, it is worth paying attention to.” (Higgins quoting Reeves, 1965, p. 125).

“Then you’ve got to close the door and write something – that is the moment of truth which we all try to postpone as long as possible.” (Higgins quoting Ogilvy, 1965, p. 73). “Sometimes I do write quite a good ad, but whenever I’m face with having to do one, I have absolutely no confidence in myself at all.” (Higgins quoting Ogilvy, 1965, p. 73).