I don’t know who first said it. I heard it attributed to the late George Burns. “People are impressed with sincerity. If you learn to fake that, you’ve got it made.” Everyday, in the advertising world, highly paid, very creative people get together and try to effectively “fake it.”
Still, I’m impressed with a couple of ads I’ve been seeing lately. One is fairly drenched in sweat. It talks about how America used to make things–products produced with skill, ingenuity, creativity, pride, and hard work. The commercial builds to the punch line and shows pictures of its product. A voice that sounds like it is coming from someone who knows how to work, says something like, “This was once a country where we made things, beautiful things, and so it is again . . .”The other ad features a voice I love. Sam Eliott must get up every morning and gargle with a mixture of broken glass and turpentine. It is just the voice to hark back to a time when men made deals based on a handshake. I have no doubt that if I went to buy the vehicle the gravely voiced spokesman is promoting there would be a lot of paper I’d have to sign, in addition to the hand-clasp, but, still I’m impressed that the ad looks back to a time when people’s word was their bond.It’s highly possible–to the point of near certainty–that these ads are no more sincere than the quintessential promises about the used car owned by a “little-old-lady . . . .” Still, even if the commercials are smoke and mirrors, I see hope based on the buttons Madison Avenue is seeking to push. Could it be that there is a growing awareness that work–labor that actually results in something of value–and honesty are virtues worth preserving? And that our salvation as a nation depends not on more clever accounting, and even slicker speeches, but on hard work and honesty?I hope so.
FPR reader Howard Merrell has been watching television ads and finds a glimmer of hope. Here’s why: