Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Head Scratchin' Advertising

Most of the time, I can figure ads out. They're usually pretty damn obvious. But not always. Here's an ad from 1901.

Washington to California for seven dollars! But that doesn't interest me. I'm confused by the artwork that was carefully rendered to sell train tickets.

The hussy is sticking her cabbose right in the porter's face.

And the porter's eyes are staring right at that ample posterior like those hoop skirts might be hiding two of the biggest, ripest watermelons this side of the Mason Dixon line. Look at the expression on the guy's face.

"Whoo lawd, Miss Daisy. Must be jellys coz jam don't shake that a ways!"

It's 1901. Your wife, daughter, or mother has to go out to California. You have your choice of train lines. Who does this advertisement appeal to? Who wants a leering train conductor oogling the woman in his life.

And yes, the guy is a horrible drawing of a racial sterotype. No wonder A. Phillip Randolph* worked so hard to unionize the Pullman porters!!!

Fast forward to 2008.

I've had this ad hanging outside my cubicle for a couple of years. No, he's not my type. It's been hanging outside my cubicle for years, remember? I've heard it all. Don't bother.

How does this guy sell a scanner? This ad was in an IT trade magazine.

"Murray? It's Harvey over at Glickman and Schmutz. I've got this shoot tomorrow and I need the gayest-looking, bald guy you got. Hmm, trade journal. It's for a scanner. Great! He sounds perfect. Thanks, babe."

Then they dress the guy up in an outfit left over from the Andy Griffith Show. Then they come up with this tagline, "It's a Snap." You know, because gay guys snap their fingers a lot and say, "Snap." No, they do. Well, black gay guys do. You used to watch In Living Color twenty years ago, right? All the black, bald, gay guys that wear little clown hats say "Snap."

Am I supposed to buy a Fujitsu scanner because I'm a loser IT guy and this dude makes me feel better about myself? Because I'm an IT chick and this guy looks like he knows a thing or two about scanners? Because I'm a gay IT guy and this guy is dreamy?

*Of course I know who A. Randolph Phillips is, I had to make a diorama about him for Black History Month back in the 3rd grade. The black kids always got Jackie Robinson or Muhammad Ali while me, the skinny white boy, got stuck with A. Randolph Phillips, Ralph Bunche and Maya Angelou. You try filling up a shoebox with interesting stuff about A. Randolph Phillips!

Thanks to Steve, the guy in the cubicle next to mine, for sending me the ad from 1901.


  1. Bobby,

    Stop scratching your head. The lice are complaining.


    These ads are supposed to be humorous. In both cases it's not very funny humor which is why I'm surprised you failed to recognize it.


    "Uh ohs, I mays needs to tap that azz-izzle!"

    Funny because I combined old Stepin Fetchit colloquialisms with slang from today's ebonic vernacular.


  2. Bill,

    I also find the juxtaposition of stereotypical early 20th century Uncle Tom-like dialect with contemporary urban lingo and cadence to be particularly humorous.


    Holy mackerals, dat white bitch haz an azz likes my momma!


  3. Dude, I thought that that the chick was a hooker and that she did 'business' for the passengers from between DC, Phili and Ny.

    duh the black porter is checking out her all, all men would.

  4. Bobby,

    The klan called, they're looking for a publicist for their NYC office.

    That gay IT guy has very strong fingers for an IT guy. Look how he's holding up that device with the center of gravity hanging out past his fingertips.

    Do you think he shaves his entire body? I do.


  5. Alpha Bill,

    Thanks for the comments!

    I think that if he was going to shave his entire body, he would take a few minutes and lose that ribbon of hair above his ears.

    Many IT guys have strong fingers. For example, all this blogging has left me with heavily muscled and calloused index fingers and a mouse wrist that can open jars with a single twist.

    Also, I believe that the weight in most scanners is not equally distributed along the longitudial axis.