Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Friday, June 26, 2009

Comparative Poetry Enterprises, LLC


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(photo: legendary American car-dealer Cal Worthington)
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For as long as I can remember, I've loved the language of advertising because it doesn't make any sense; or rather it makes indirect emotional sense, if you let it do so.

Let's see, what are some of my favorite words and phrases from advertising? In no particular order. . . .

1. "Hurry!" Uh, no. I don't want to hurry. Hurry, call the number. Hurry on down--our store is closing forever. Order now and we'll include the Ginsu Slicer for free. I'd be more likely to pay attention if they said, "Hey, take your time, pal."

2. "For a limited time only." Well, of course. What would we expect--that the sale would go on into infinity? Maybe for a sale of Escher prints.

3. "While supplies last." This probably means they're worried supplies WILL last.

4. "Not sold in stores." Then there arose a store, for a while at least, in malls that featured things sold "only" on TV. That was almost paradoxical.

5. "Valid at participating stores." I think they should force non-participating stores to accept the validity, too. Just kidding.

6. "[Actor's name here] like you've never seen her before!" Okay. Since I've never seen her, only her image (at best), I think I'll be able to handle it.

7. The "because" statement. This statement often comes at the end of an advert, and is preceded by . . . nothing--except perhaps the name of the company or product. But there's no assertion, no effect that is followed by a cause. "Picklewad Insurance . . . because tradition matters." Notice they don't even say "Picklewad Insurance is an old company; therefore it is arguably a traditional company; tradition matters [in a good way]; so consider buying insurance from Picklewad." No, the "because" clause must stand alone. Fabulous.

8. "The name you trust." Who said? And maybe I trust the company's name but not the company.

9. "A 50 dollar value for only 19.99." What is meant by "value"? Who set the value? Not a neutral third-party, I bet.

10. "Money-back guarantee." As opposed to the guarantee where you don't get your money back--the non-guarantee guarantee (which happens to be the real "guarantee")?

Anyway, a poem in this spirit:

Because Comparisons Matter

Leaving aside a summer's day, what
would you like to be compared to?
A winter's night? A rhino's hoof? A
traffic jam in Athens, Toronto, or
Beijing? You tell us. At

Comparative Poetry Enterprises (CPE),
LLC, we try to satisfy the subject
of our poetry. Our philosophy is
that good market-research leads to
good poetic analogies. No disrespect
to Shakespeare, but times have changed.

The poetry-market is tough, especially
in the Analogy and Love sectors, which
have been saturated. We're CPE: dedicated
to making the right comparison for you.
Contact us for a free, no-obligation
trial-poem. You'll be glad you did!
CPE . . . where comparisons are incomparable.

Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom
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