The eloquence of John F. Kennedy for @CarnivalPLC

From a purely creative standpoint, the Carnival Corporation ad in yesterday’s Super Bowl was beautifully shot, and an impressive use of a historical speech. (It recalled the “Farmer” ad for Dodge from a couple years ago that made similarly effective use of a speech by broadcaster Paul Harvey.) The JFK remarks were given at the 1962 America’s Cup race. The remarks sound rather extemporaneous, but were probably prepared. Perhaps the work of Ted Sorensen or some other speech writer. Kennedy was no slouch himself, of course, when it came to rhetoric so it’s certainly possible that the words were entirely his own; but that seems unlikely given the nature of how a president’s every word is carefully thought through. Whatever the case, Kennedy was a great sailor, and a Navy man; his love of the sea is clearly evident in the sound and timbre of his voice. Kennedy also loved poetry and knew how to find the music in words, which is so evident here. I’m not really a cruise person; this ad doesn’t change that. However, I admire Carnival as a company for making such great use of the speech, and creating an emotionally appealing and enjoyable ad. I will remember Carnival for making this ad, and like them more because of it. Mission accomplished.



The old and famous


The always interesting Lurzer’s Archive has this fascinating look at the trend of famous, older women appearing in ads for various fashion brands. This is a welcome development as far as I’m concerned; most advertisers are obsessed with youth and targeting their ads to a younger consumer. These products presumably are not strictly trying to reach the geezer demographic. Of course, the buyers of expensive luxury brands skew older; those are typically the consumers who can afford them. But fashion brands can’t afford to be seen as being “for old people.” That would be the kiss of death.

The flip side to this trend is the way products like Medicare insurance plans advertise. They wouldn’t touch this sort of thing with a ten-foot pole. Not because Joni Mitchell is a chain smoker. Or because Joan Didion is too elitist. (Well, those reasons, yes.) But mostly because these ladies are just too damn old.

In my job as a copywriter and Creative Director I work with a great many brands that provide Medicare insurance and other kinds of health-related products that are solely aimed at oldsters. Typically, these brands demand that the actors and models appearing in their ads be deliberately younger than their target audience. While I can buy this argument to a certain point for products like adult diapers, which might want to expand to a younger audience, in the case of Medicare insurance, it can’t be sold to someone under 65 who is not on Medicare. (The only exception is people who are permanently disabled; but rarely do you see ads for Medicare insurance with disabled actors.)

The clients’ reasoning for “younging up” their models is that today’s aging baby boomers are “different” and think “younger” than earlier generations. Never mind that this is a highly debatable premise when you are looking at a hip or knee replacement or living with some chronic ailment. The practical effect is that we sometimes see ads with actors who look decades younger than the 65-year-olds who are the customers we’re targeting for Medicare supplement plans and the like. There is an art to finding models who look their age but also look good for their age, not simply casting people who look ten years younger than they’re supposed to be – which is the way many clients want them to look. So I say, good for fashion brands for showing older people who aren’t trying to hide their age. Maybe brands that are actually targeting older consumers will someday catch up.


A walk among the Italian spruces
is all very revealing
the way you tell me that the trees remind you
of the phallus of a lover whose name you forget
or maybe never knew
I could tell you if you asked me
We have history together
and those names never come back

@Daniel von der Embse

Roger Angell on life in the nineties


The blogger Diahann Reyes has an interesting post about aging from a woman’s perspective. Her post recalled this excellent essay by the great New Yorker contributor, Roger Angell, who writes with his typical detail about living to be in his nineties. I found myself relating to so much of what both writers have to say. I especially identify with Angell’s discussion of feeling “invisible.” I first noticed this feeling after turning fifty. I thought I came up with the idea, but evidently not. Oh well, another sign of dementia.




Surpassing Her Stature by Hidayet Karakuş

I can’t stop reading this poem…over and over. If I should ever write a poem as good as this one, my work would be done.

Leonard Durso

with her slender heels as soft as can be
weary of the calloused caresses she knows
her mane shying at the prodding of the stirrups
one woman
shall break the bit that hampers her within
and canter off to a new mountain lea

lips pursed by the drawstrings of longing sealed inside them
in her sleep she surpasses her stature and rein
though she seems often by quandary enchained
returning to that same page of her book
to read it painfully over and over again

translated by Suat Karantay

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Swimming in the warm spings

The requiem that lowered
my old friend into the ground
play on in my head
never escaping my memory
Looking out over dark patches
that once held life
barren now but for the twinkle
of water in moonlight,
I think of him as a boy
swimming in the warm springs,
one day to be joined there by me


This poem first appeared in The Woventale Press, June 2014.


©Daniel von der Embse