1913 Ad of the Week — Brick Work

April 21, 2008, 7:00 am; posted by
Filed under Ads, Steve  | No Comments

This is the sixth in a series of real ads from the 1913 World Almanac…

After seeing all these exciting ads from 1913, you’ve probably (correctly) identified that year as the famed Golden Age of advertising. But surprisingly, not every single ad in the Almanac is full of fascinating close-up diagrams of hernia trusses and intestine cleansers.

No, my friends — some ads are slaves to Sweet Lady Text.

Take this humble advertisement for “Brick Work.” Surrounded by a simple border (which I removed to protect any who may suffer from a heart condition) and flanked by an inch of white space on each margin, this ad screams to its competitors, “Keep your flashy drawings and your catchy slogans, my friends — for myself, I shall rely on confusing compound sentences and poor design!”

You can see why I feel a certain kinship with it.

But really, this might be the worst ad ever. Just look at how it opens: “After an inexhaustible research and thorough investigation, including the severest fire and water tests that could be applied toooooooooooooopppa;sfas.';’/=998

Oh! I’m sorry! I seem to have dozed off, in the middle of an opening sentence that took TWENTY-SIX words to get to its point (“brick work rules”)!!

And it’s followed up with one even longer and more poorly constructed, which starts with an admission that either steel or concrete “measures up to commercial tests, as generally known.” Meanwhile, the ad takes another whole paragraph to get around to identifying anywhere you can actually buy bricks. Nice touch.

Where this ad really brings the heat is in the adjective department — it includes such winners as inexhaustible, thorough, severest, extreme, disastrous, indestructible, noticeable, well-burned, and marked! It’s like the love child of Mad Libs and Lorem Ipsum.

But I guess this isn’t surprising; I’ve often found that when words fail me, a brick often fills in quite nicely.


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