Really! It's true! It wasn't just a fantastical rumor! Metallic caskets are available again!
Springfield Daily News - Apr 14, 1946
Incidentally, I came across this ad after reading a 1948 article by columnist Doris Lockerman in which she wrote that, "It was reported, but not confirmed, that a convention of morticians once crowned a Miss Metallic Casket."
This led me to a long, and ultimately fruitless, search for any evidence of a 'Miss Metallic Casket'. The above ad was the only minor curiosity related to metallic caskets that I came across.
The 1959 "Lonely Man" TV ad for Strand cigarettes is rumored to be the greatest advertising flop in UK history. Because it seemed to say, "If you smoke our cigarettes, you may become a lonely sad sack wandering the streets at night."
In extreme cases, ill-judged advertising can kill a brand stone dead — even if the ad is well-made and memorable. Such was the fate of cigarette brand Strand back in the long-ago days when tobacco products could be advertised on UK television. In 1959 Imperial Tobacco's subsidiary W.D. & H.O. Wills, a firm able to trace its roots in the business back to a tobacconist's shop in Bristol in the 1780s, launched Strand with a high-profile TV advertising campaign supported by posters, press advertising and coupons that could be redeemed for free packs. The TV commercial, devised by copywriter John May at British agency S.H. Benson, saw actor Terence Brook smoking while roaming the rain-drenched strees of London in stylish trench coat and trilby hat...
The style of the protagonist and soundtrack to the commercial appealed to the public. Once it went on air people began getting in touch to find out if the theme tune was available to buy as a record. Sensing an opportunity, Cliff Adams and His Orchestra booked some recording studio time and laid down the track, The Lonely Man Theme, for release as a single. In 1960 The Lonely Man Theme broke into the Top 40...
Undeniably, the advertising campaign earned Strand tremendous recognition. As Winston Fletcher writes in his book Powers of Persuasion: The Inside Story of British Advertising 1951-2000, 'Public awareness of the brand and its advertising rocketed to over 90% within weeks. This was unprecedented and has rarely if ever been surpasssed.' It was a brilliant achievement, but one with a fatal flaw. Despite the high awareness levels delivered by the campaign, hardly anyone was buying the product.
The reasons why revolved around how the Lonely Man was perceived. Many viewers found the focus on loneliness uncomfortable. If the man was reliant on a packet of smokes for company, did this mean he was a bit of an oddball unable to sustain friendships? Was he an addictive personality, craving nicotine above human company? Could he be on his own because of a failed relationship or even due to bereavement? Might he be depressed?...
trying to position a new tobacco brand around loneliness — rather than something much more positive and aspirational, such as individuality — was doomed to failure. With sales failing to take off despite the high level of standout the advertising achieved, Strand was soon withdrawn from the market.
Back in the 1920s, Ralph Woltstem reimagined the brassiere. He did away with the straps around the shoulders and instead used columns to provide support from below. These columns, in turn, incorporated shock absorbers. He was granted two patents for this invention. The device in both patents looks pretty much identical to me. The images are from Patent No. 1762676, and the explanatory text below is from Patent No. 1741898:
This invention relates to new and useful improvements in breast supporters for women and aims to provide simple, inexpensive and efficient means whereby large and flabby breasts of women, especially of the buxom type, may be so supported as to assume a firm and solid condition. Furthermore, the use of my present device will prevent the flapping of the breasts while walking, which always is an undesired feature in women afflicted with breasts of unusual proportions.
1990: Customers of a laundromat in Anchorage, Alaska frequently complained that the slot machine in the establishment never paid out any money, even if a winning combination came up, and one of them eventually called the police about it.
The police initially agreed that it seemed like theft to never pay out winnings, so they confiscated the slot machine. But then the owner of the laundromat explained that the machine was deliberately fixed to not pay off, because gambling was illegal in Alaska. Furthermore, a small sign next to the machine said that it was "For Amusement Only". Perhaps, he conceded, the sign was not prominent enough, but it was there nevertheless.
Upon hearing this, the police decided the slot machine was legal and let the owner take it back.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.