Personally Yours
Published in

Personally Yours

Shopping, New Yorker Style

The Record, October 24, 1963

I have been addicted to newspaper and magazine advertising for years now: in fact, it is among my favorite reading matter.

I figure there are roughly three levels or kinds of advertising (there are many finer distinctions to be made but not this week):

1. The black, blaring kinds of ads (cut rate drug stores are among those who use them) that fill every inch of space with reading matter.

2. Simple ads with good pictures and descriptive copy, enough white space and featuring products in my price range.

3. The kind of ads they run in the New Yorker.

Of the first kind, let it be said that I find them impossible to read (too confusing) and they make me suspicious. (Too cheap). There is a kind of pressure salesmanship implied in them, too, that just doesn’t make them my cup of tea.

The second variety are mainly what you find in the RECORD, some better than others depending upon how much room we have to say something and other factors I’ll not go into this week because it is Number Three of which I want to speak.

The New Yorker ads are in a class by themselves, to use that cliche so dear to the hearts of many copywriters.

In fact, they are “class” ads, appealing, it would seem to some upper strata to which the reader does not belong but to which SOMEBODY must (or who are they talking to?).

These ads often (but not always) display wares which even if I could afford them, I probably would not wish to buy. But I could be wrong. For example, if I could afford the Empress Chinchilla coat displayed by a barefooted model high in a stark tree, perhaps I, too would have places where I could wear it.

(If nothing else, I could go climb a tree.)

Another ad, three-fourths made up of an illustration of three silver spoons in a bird’s nest, advises, “Feather your nest with Tiffany Sterling.”

Clever, what? Well, most New Yorker ads are as witty as they can be. I think they are written by special New Yorker advertising copywriters employed by ad agencies for this single purpose,

Headlines are usually eye-catchers, apt and amusing, under or over elegant artwork which glues one’s caught eye to the page.

“Even water tastes better in Waterford” (And a stunning picture of a beautiful crystal goblet I probably WOULD buy a couple dozen of if I were loaded)!

“No Gingerbread” (photo of handsome, unadorned men’s shoe costing $37.50.)

“Piaget, the most expensive watch in the world.” (The implication is that if you can afford one of these millionaires will have nothing on you!)

“Now! 8 jets a week to South America” (Need I say more?)

“When you’re sure you know what you’re doing. Flambeau perfume from France by Faberge” (This is the entire copy on a full page ad the rest of which is taken up with a striking picture of a man and woman giving each other soulful looks.)

“Knowledgable people buy Imperial and they buy it by the case” (Chauffeur bringing case of Imperial out to waiting Rolls. Natch).

Pictures aren’t always necessary. For example, one of my candidates for the snob appeal ad of the year bears the words “Piccolino; nice warm clothes for children, from $25 to $105.” (These words are centered in 50 percent of white space, and boy, do they stand out!)

But the ad for Southwick’s men’s clothes runs a close second. in the middle of a full page stand three men, quite small, as if at a distance. At the bottom of the page is the invitation, “Choose a Southwick and join the minority,”.

This week’s New Yorker is big and fat. They believe in starting Christmas buying early, I guess. An example: 14 karat gold three in one letter opener, telephone dialer and pop-out pencil. $100.

Or how about an aspic server (you can also use it for asparagus) at only $15? Of course, it’s only silver plate, at that.

My favorite this week is a full page picture of Audrey Hepburn with a tiny line underneath saying, “Once she was the only woman in the world allowed to wear this perfume. L’Interdit. Created by Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn.”

Now they’re talking my language! This is my second favorite perfume and I am lucky enough to have about half of an ounce bottle on my dresser at this very minute.

Even the likes of me can identify with that glamour queen and I think that’s what those ads in the New Yorker are all about!

You can keep your Chinchilla but DON’T forget the perfume!

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store