Bob & Ray, Admen Extraordinare

During their 5 decades of performing together on radio and TV programs, Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding have portrayed befuddled newsmen, quirky interview subjects, didactic soap opera characters another media mainstays.  But of all the targets of their deadpan, underplayed style, one the best has been their commercial parodies.  Sure, that sounds like faint praise, what with the glut of commercial parodies all over TV and the internet these days, but Bob & Ray appropriated the language of advertising with an insightfulness that's easy to miss while you're laughing at their off-kilter dialogue.

Their commercials for fictitious sponsor Monongahela Metal Foundry -- "Casting Steel Ingots With The Housewife In Mind"-- make a mockery of advertisers' attempts at consumer relevance.   Their Einbinder Flypaper slogan -- "The Brand You've Gradually Grown To Trust Over The Course Of Three Generations" -- was a typical heritage-hyping appeal and yet resonated with a candor ("gradually grown to trust") few companies would dare to use.  And their message from the Croftweiler Industrial Cartel  -- "Makers Of All Sorts Of Stuff, Made Out Of Everything" -- skewered GE-style corporate umbrella branding.

You can learn a lot about writing copy from these two.  Or at least learn what not to write.

By the way, Bob & Ray are not to be confused with Bert & Harry, another comedic team that appeared in commercials for Piels Beer back in the '50s (but who were, coincidentally voiced by Bob and Ray).


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