Selling The Sizzle When The Steak Is Cold

Still Life031-2

I write advertisements and newsletters – not for a living, but for pocket money. There is also an element of healthy intellectual exercise in it that keeps me at a keyboard that is largely unpaid-for. A labour of love? Well, that’s more emotion that I normally engage in, but there may be some element of it – let us say that it is occasionally a labour of lust.

Sometimes the writing can be likened to preparing sausage – grinding up chunks of information together with spicy titbits and packaging it in a washed-out intestine. Oops, I meant to say an electronic intestine. We’ve moved ahead with the times. Unfortunately , like the butcher with few pigs, we are sometimes forced to use a great deal of filler in the casing. This next newsletter I set upon has nearly no pig whatsoever – and I can’t help but feel that the bread stuffing is also being replaced with sawdust.

The problem is the industry has few good new things. Oh, there are a few new things, but they are not good, and there are a few good things but they are not new. And even when a piece of gear meets the criteria of novelty and value, it is likely to be marketed with a code-word name that derives from previous products and you are damned trying to figure out what it is.

The Flapoflex company, for instance, once put out film cameras called the Flapoflex. They eventually acquired a tiny sensor and a big price and became the Flapoflex D, and then the D 1, the D1X, the D1Xs, and the D1sxf. Once it got to the North American continent it was renamed the Davy Crocket and the Sergeant Preston to appeal to local sensitivities. Now they have a new cheaper version of it – the Flapoflex D100sxf Mk III k and apart from the firm that sold the Letraset kit to the Flapoflex Advertising Department, no-one cares. The customers have long since lost interest in something that looks the same as it did three years ago . That it can now work for an hour before it pours scalding water out of the back end of the camera over the user’s face is beside the point – no-one has the patience to trace the ancestry of it.

So I am going to ask viewers to read about awards given to people they never heard of, for achievements that mean nothing to them. It is roughly the equivalent of asking them to cheer Bolivian knitting contests.

I will also be selling the idea of instructional courses that take money for talk. Not a bad thing – universities have been doing it for millennia – but there is a hell of a difference in getting Edward Teller to tell people how to make hydrogen bombs and somebody telling them how to take pictures of lettuce. All very well marketing to the gullible, but you have to have genuine gulls to offer to them.

I’m not daunted – I’ve done this sort of thing before. It is as honourable a profession as standing out the front of a boxing tent or girly show at the county fair. I wish I could have a loud checked suit and a bowler hat to wear while I was doing it, but I shall console myself with a ” Press ” card for my hatband*.

Final Note: I look at all the cars on the road as I drive, not just the ones I hit. The other day a car loomed up behind me –  a Mitsubishi with the bonnet lettered for a business and the proprietor’s name spelled out across it. It was an Indian name and took a little deciphering in reverse in the mirror, but what really caught the eye was the large red lettering ” Press ” near the passenger’s side door. I have been speculating about it for days…I do hope I encounter it again. If I do, I am going to abandon all other plans in the day to just follow it and see what the Indian fellow actually does.

For all I know, he might make olive oil…

  • For special assignments I am going to replace it with a card that says ” Fondle”.

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