This morning Larry read me exerts form the obituary of Julian Koenig, who had a stellar career in advertising. You may have heard his daughter interview him on This American Life.
Mr. Koenig came up with the famous “Think Small” campaign that introduced the VW bug and was key to changing the way Americans think about cars. He also worked with one of the first environmental groups, renaming their original idea of for a national education day about environmental issues, Environmental Teach In, to Earth Day. This was in 1970.
“He offered a bunch of possible names–Earth Day, Ecology Day, Environment Day, E Day–but he made it quite clear that we would be idiots if we didn’t choose Earth Day,” said the group’s spokesperson. Koenig noted that his inspiration was (at least in part) thatEarth Day rhymes with birthday.
So rhyme plays a part in advertising slogans, as well as poetry. and many poets (think of Lew Welch), were in the ad business.
In his This American Life interview, Koenig says “Advertising is built on puffery–on, at heart, deception. And I don’t think anybody can go proudly into the next world with a career built on deception–no matter how well they do it.”
But, at heart, don’t we all prepare a face to meet the faces that we meet? Create an image, subscribe to a belief system (even medical, even scientific) and promote that, excluding whatever doesn’t quite fit? Perhaps an ode to deception is in order, and here’s a cheer for Koenig and Earth Day.