It’s a mad, mad, ad-mad world


Like many American’s, I am pretty excited about the upcoming Superbowl. It’s the one time of year when Americans embrace the type of pageantry that was the hallmark of Hollywood in the ’40s and ’50s.

There is a wealth of outlandish costumes, music, drama — and then you get past the pre-game show and the pace really picks up. Yep, I am really looking forward to watching hours of entertainment, interrupted occasionally by a football game.

I don’t mind admitting I’m not sure who is actually playing in the scheduled football game. Already, however, I know Coca-Cola, Volkswagen and have bought advertising slots, and there will be at least one add featuring a French bull dog.

Also supermodel Kate Upton is generating some “buzz” for a commercial for Mercedes-Benz that may be “too sexy.”

The downfall of a lot of these advertisements is that they try too hard, and while they are enjoyable, no one actually remembers what the ad was supposed to be selling. This is not the case with this (honestly, I can’t remember when I was so pre-outraged) Mercedes-Benz advertisement.

In fact, the commercial has already been such a huge success that all Ms. Upton needs to do now is step in front of a camera wearing a baggy jumpsuit and say:

“I’m sorry, but due to the graphic nature of our planned advertisement, we had to cancel the commercial. It was really great, too, but I guess it was just too sexy. Oh, and I really like Mercedes-Benz cars, so it’s a shame that I can’t do the commercial.”

I think my interest in advertising started when I was a boy and my dad would take me with him to livestock auctions. Auctioneers are among the most gifted advertisers I have ever witnessed. I have long held a suspicion that auctioneers are lawyers that were just too good, and had to be kicked off the Bar.

The typical auctioneer starts his schtick by pretending to be tired.

“What’s next up, Jim-Bob? A heifer? No? Oh, a heifer and calf? Wait, where’d she get the calf? Oh, heifer-calf. Got it.”

This gives his audience confidence that the auctioneer is just a regular guy, and not some vocal sales wizard. Then, he pounces.

“EIGHTHUNDREDDOLLARsdollarsdollarsbubswonchabuyaheiffereighthundredgimmmegimmieeightnoweighthereeightdollarsdollarswhereseightdon’tbeacheapskatedollarsdollarsNOW SEVEN-AND-A-HALF?”

This is the American version of the snake charmer: the sound and rhythm of the auctioneer’s voice puts the audience in a kind of trance. And the price drops, and drops, until it reaches the price the owner of the beast actually wanted, and then the auctioneer begins to sell.

“This here folks is an awfully nice heifer calf out of good stock what’s that Jim-Bob? Premier stock? Folks, you’ve got Premier blood lines here. You wouldn’t be able to buy a steak from one of these fine pieces of beef cattle for the asking price. HEYNOWFivehundREDgimmiefivenowfive ....”

Horse auctions are even better, and the auctioneers launch into wild tales of each horse’s accomplishments or potential.

“This here gelded-stud is just about one of the finest prospects you’ll ever see. He is as sweet and gentle as can-be, flat plumb broke to death.”

It’s a phrase I never understood, but I guess if you can’t beat a dead horse, you can still ride it.

In any case, my dad, who seemed immune to the auctioneer’s patter, always took a real risk with me along. At different times we ended up with a giant, vicious hog, a small vicious pony, and a goat that became locally renown for vandalizing cars.

If auctions are at the top of the advertising ladder, then classified advertisements on are at the bottom. Many are so badly written they offer hours of comedy entertainment.

I recently saw an ad offering to trade tattooing services in exchange for five gallons of white paint. Another ad’s headline read “Bad Hairpiece Wanted.”

The best of the worst, however, is an advertisement from a company in Tualatin, Ore., seeking a paltry $600,000 investment for a business called, no kidding, Unicorn Horn Inc.

The advertisement stated that Unicorn had invented groundbreaking products called, respectively, “The Fountain of Youth,” and “The Cure.”

The Fountain of Youth, apparently, activates your endocrine system and can result in, (I am not making this up) “profound body changes.” I slept through most of my biology classes, but I do know the endocrine system controls hormone production linked to growth, metabolism and sexual function. (I looked it up.)

Is there anyone anxious to sign up for profound body changes related to sexual function without knowing exactly what those changes entail? Me neither.

But wait, there’s more!

The Cure, which can only be taken after undergoing the profound body changes in the Fountain of Youth treatments, only costs $7,500 a month for live-in treatments. These have to be live-in treatments because, according to the advertisement, the Cure becomes unstable if it changes elevation more than 500 feet. I am not kidding.

On the bright side, you will be allowed “the careful use of a car,” during your stay.

Unicorn Horn Inc., I discovered, also has a website, and though I was a little nervous, in the interest of professional journalism, I had to check it out.

The first thing I noticed was, indeed, there is a unicorn featured on the website.

To sum up, I would like to just quote verbatim a portion of the website’s ad copy. I take no credit for the following:

“I invented the ‘Cure’. These are My Opinions. There has been No Clinical Testing. We do have a evolving Business and Marketing Plan. I do have a Executive Summary. Both are not normal. The ‘Cure’ is not normal.”

“The ‘Cure’ Is a virtually tasteless, Crystal Clear, Mega Bio-available High Protein, Mega Vitamin, with a major portion of Herbs, low calorie (40), kosher, no sugar (suitable for diabetics), Drink.

“If spilled (exposed to oxygen) it takes on the characteristics and texture of Human Blood, including the color and resulting stains.”

So, if you have $600,000, just send it to me, Luke Hegdal. I’ll just spend it on a trip to Disneyland with my family, and maybe a new pickup. It will make me happy, and you won’t have to worry about any unstable blood-like cocktails.


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