Honestly now – would you prefer a shrinking violet? (Jan, 1951)

Advertisements about advertising. You don’t get more meta than that.

And what is up with the indentation and type justification in this ad? Can any one discern a rationale?

Honestly now – would you prefer a shrinking violet?

The advertisers in this magazine all claim their products are “tops.” They are full of pride in their brand names.

Every so often you meet someone who objects to what he calls the “boastfulness” of advertising, but most of us Americans like it.

We like it because we know that deep pride in things well made goes way back into the factories and is reflected in the fine products we have to choose from when we go to buy the things we use in our homes or on our persons.

We like it because we know that pride is a spur to make better merchandise; and that it is the driving power that keeps men striving each to outdo the other in new ideas, new and better ways of doing things. The end result is a steady stream of new and better means to make life comfortable; more and better jobs for us to earn the means of buying them.

We will take the Proud ones—and let some other land cultivate the shrinking violets.

Brand Names Foundation INCORPORATED

A non-profit educational foundation • 119 West 57th Street, New York 19, N. Y.

8 comments
  1. Nick Moffitt says: August 8, 20082:56 am

    Egad this text input box is wide. Scrolls right off my 1024×768 screen…

    At any rate, I’d guess that this ad is trying to look like a page from a book of poetry, possibly children’s poems. I think it’s meant to be one of those early “Got your attention, now, didn’t we?” sort of things.

  2. Charlene says: August 8, 20087:38 am

    Apparently they have deep pride in things poorly done.

  3. JM says: August 8, 20089:21 am

    I can’t imagine what they were thinking to pay for an ad like that :S

  4. Torgo says: August 8, 20087:27 pm

    Here’s my guess from a designer’s point of view: At the last minute, after the thing was completely laid out, some manager decided the text needed to be changed. I’ve seen it happen many times, but at least computers make this sort of thing easier.

    Hey, I work a few blocks away from these guys!

  5. katey says: August 8, 20089:24 pm

    The body text is aligned irregulary to relate to the hand drawn title text. Left-justified text would look even odder, I assure you.

    If anything, the logo is poorly dealt with.

    (I have a BFA in Graphic Design and am a huge fan of mid 20th century magazines… there’s my cred. I’m also pretty well educated in the layout and printing methods of the time, for someone who wasn’t alive then!)

  6. Rick Auricchio says: August 9, 20088:50 pm

    The copy is terrible, and the use of semicolons seems completely wrong.

  7. Charlene says: August 10, 20081:18 am

    You’re right about the semi-colons and about the copy in general. The ad is trying to convey the idea that advertising is an act of patriotism, but it reads as if written by a jingoistic blowhard on his fourth martini of the morning who thinks he’s writing for the mentally challenged.

  8. Seth says: August 10, 20082:32 pm

    Actually, yes, I would prefer a shrinking violet. Thanks for asking.

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