Thursday, 19 July 2012

General Arthur Cigars

One of my interests is advertising. Since reading a book called "Techniques of Persuasion", which was about brainwashing, I've thought it wise to keep an eye out for techniques that may have been practised on me.

Part of the fun is looking at old ephemeral literature such as magazines and posters which once attempted, in a naive way, what modern agencies do nowadays in a snappier, more sophisticated way.

In my novel "Death Valley Scotty", set in 1905, the eponymous hero smokes a brand of cigar called the 'General Arthur.' I first came across this brand while examining vintage photos of Los Angeles, in which I saw the brand name painted on the side of a building. Subsequent research tracked down several ads from the first years of the 20th Century. Their texts are charmingly un-pushy and have no killer sub-text.
I don't smoke cigars, but if I did I would probably have been tempted to smoke General Arthur cigars by ads like these. Much more so than by modern ads, many of which succeed in annoying me and so creating actual sales resistance.

British readers will know precisely what I mean when I say I could cheerfully strangle a certain mustachioed TV tenor who sings "Go compare ...&c." in an effort to make us buy insurance. I will not buy insurance from that firm, not now, not ever. I will track down their holding company and put that on my blacklist too. And if ever a representative of theirs turns up on my doorstep, there will be blood running in the gutters ...

That's what I mean by sales resistance.

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