As you might have noticed, I've been digging int0 some of my pappy's old stuff lately, for inspiration and moral backup. I have a book of memos from his days as creative director for Detroit ad agency Campbell-Ewald in the 1960s, I ran across this letter of Mar. 28, 1966, thanking a Kenneth B. Walker, for some ideas:
While some of them are quite amusing, I refer you back to my letter of several months ago in which I told you that it's fairly easy for most of our writers to coin a phrase or use a pun, but rather difficult for them to solve marketing or product problems that are usually the assignment. Keep in mind, Ken, that many of our writers have been or are novelists, gag writers for comedians, greeting card writers, movie writers and so on. So it is very, very easy for them to come up with something like, "A SUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE OFFICE!" As a matter of fact, we have books in our library filled with puns that could easily be applied to our product, if we felt this could result in meaningful advertising. All this by way of saying please don't expect us to fall backwards at a few well-turned phrases.
Dad let him down easy, concluding,
I have been busy with a new reorganization and haven't poked my nose out of the office for several months, but would always find time for a talk with you about advertising, islands, or women.
The man knew how to handle it.
Peter Dean says
Puns in advertising, newspaper and magazine headlines, radio and tv, product names, are the curse of the English language. They are such an easy way to score- and mostly absolutely pointless.