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Words to Live By

by David Westheimer

 

Over the years Ive accumulated a lot of disposables, you might even call it litter — newspaper clips, photographs, travel souvenirs — but not many what you might call collectibles. Dody and I are not really collectors. I have three small Olmec head replicas and an Olmeca tequila bottle (empty), gathered while I was doing research on a novel, but I dont think of them as a collection. And we have a raft of books but we bought them to read, not because they were first editions or beautifully bound. Many of the books are signed by their authors but thats because they are people we know.

But there is one thing I have been collecting over the years. None of them cost me a dime and they take up zero shelf space. Advertising slogans.

The gem of my collection is "With a name like Smuckers it has to be good." Followed by Hallmarks "When you care enough to send the very best."

Many years ago, as a newspaper TV editor, I was privileged to interview Joyce Hall (with a name like Joyce and youre a man you have to be good), founder of Hallmark, but I wasnt smart enough to ask him where that slogan came from — him or some ad agency. And theres a slogan that with me will forever be held in infamy. "Lucky Strike green has gone to war."

Back about 1941 Lucky Strike decided to drop the familiar green packaging for their cigarettes and go to white. And shortly thereafter the green dye used in the old packaging apparently had a use in the war effort and was taken off the market. So someone took advantage of that to trumpet that Lucky Strike had given up their traditional green package to the war effort and spouted the phrase on the radio and in news releases at every opportunity. A lot of folks didnt like it. It wasnt the first time Lucky Strike had done something irritating (apart, possibly, from chain-smokers throats). They had a campaign advising people to "Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet." It didnt go too well with the makers of sweets and the slogan was dropped.

I believe another slogan drove a cigar manufacturer out of business. The maker of Cremo cigars. They called the product "Certified Cremos," with the slogan, "Spit is a horrid word but it is worse on the end of your cigar," and said that other cigar makers, including Cuban hand-rollers, would spit on the end of the wrapper leaf to make it stick. Cigar smokers must have associated Cremos with the horrid word because they quit buying Cremos in droves.

And still on the subject of tobacco, what happened to "Id Walk a mile for a Camel?" Is it still being used? Camels has been running a double-truck ad in the Air Force Times (there are not too many places where cigarette advertisements can be run these days) which proclaims "Pleasure to burn." Im not sure if thats supposed to appeal to cigarette smokers or to sadists.

The oldest slogan in my collection, going back more than 60 years, is Dr. Peppers "Drink a Bite To Eat At 10, 2 and 4," which apparently was recommending Dr. Pepper as a snack food, which makes sense. There were only 150 calories in a 12-ounce serving and no cholesterol. If you didnt have it with fries.

Then theres Campbell Soups venerable "Mm! Mm! Good!" which is still going strong.

And another gem in my collection: "Ipana for the smile of beauty, Sal Hepatica for the smile of health." Then theres the perplexing, "Youll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent"

Could it have gone off to war with Lucky Strike green?

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