Never heard of this whiskey before today, and given the ad that surfaced at Retro Press I think I can see why. Follow along with me as I reveal the nightmare to you, but only in pieces at a time, lest your mind be overwhelmed by too much ghastliness at once and you be driven into the netherest regions of madness.
That it’s vintage 1947 is no excuse for any of this. Any of it at all. Well, except maybe this, which sort of makes sense:
After all, it’s a whiskey ad. Of course you want the product in the graphics. Particularly given the bottle’s design, which is nicely Streamline Moderne and wouldn’t have looked particularly dated yet in ‘47.
Where they begin to lose their way is in the copy.
I’ve heard whiskey being described as mellow, even smooth. But never, ever sunny-smooth. What the hell does that mean?
We’re given a disturbing sense with another bit of copy.
The phrase sunny morning flavor is not only foreshadowing; it’s rather distressing. Why did Schenley think it would be a good idea to associate hard liquor with sunrises? Was it meant to be oblique? Was it meant to simply suggest that the warm glow you get from whiskey (as it slowly corrodes your esophagus) is welcome like a hopeful sunrise? Were they trying to be subtle?
Oh my, no.
This is not merely a direct reference to sunrise — and the suggestion that having whiskey with one’s morning meal is desirable, perhaps even laudable — but it goes the extra step of associating alcohol with the circus. Always a good combination. Ask any carney.
By now you must have noticed what appears to be a piece of mostaccioli banded in gold in the corner; that’s actually part of a booted foot. And when we pull back a little you see that the phrase Schenley beats the band is also foreshadowing.
They’re a bit too hirsute in appearance to be human, a bit too petite to be Sasquatch. What does that leave, a horse? A cat or dog? A goat, perhaps?
Oh, if only.
I’m not kidding.
This ad appeared on the inside back cover of Life magazine. Now I’m sure the US was exuberant in post-war times. I’m sure the economic bounce — as well as more than a few recent births — was energizing. But Life magazine, even then, might have been a venue better suited to suggesting luxury, possibly even elegance, in whiskey choices. In brief, Schenley blew their demographics utterly. Even in an age before market research was easily done, there simply isn’t any excuse for this amalgamation of horror.
Sunrise … sunny-smooth … marching band … circus … rooster. Whiskey?
Whiskey, all right: whiskey tango uniform. Question mark. I mean, just how drunk were these clowns when they were having their meetings anyway?
Remember all the trouble RJR got into a few years back for its Joe Camel character? The claim was that Reynolds was marketing to children. What, I wonder, would have been made of this cheerfully springing cock1 pumping the Schenley’s? Is it possible this was an early thrust at subliminal advertising? Was it too flaccid to be effective? Will I continue inserting innuendo until a new graf?
What do you think?
Of course, Joe Camel had the double advantages of being somewhat more appealing than this
and of resembling a large, uncircumcised penis with testicles. What man doesn’t want to wrap his lips around a great big … umm … well, all right, who doesn’t want to put a camel in … uh … never mind.
Okay. New question. Why was Joe Camel successful while the Schenley’s Cock was such a horror?
[Good non-god, the brand still exists, but it’s apparently been neutered. Nary a cock to be seen.]
1. And what does this suggest about whiskey dick?
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.