Lines written in 1982 to celebrate the award of the Mackintosh Medal to David Bernstein – being also a brief exposition on the theories of Advertisement Effect in one canto

Nil posse creari de nilo. (Lucretius)

Lucretius wasn’t always right!


Sing, O muse of modern epic themes,

Of selling soapsuds, and of selling dreams:

Behold that world of commerce set apart,

An inexact science in a bastard art!

And in this nexus, let us list with care

Those philosophies which are practised there.

With surgeon’s skill and knife we will dissect

All admen’s Theories of Effect.

That sacred word, enough to make the client pay

His artwork and production bills with less delay.

First, in this field, the keystone of the arch

We sing, with pride, of Doctor Daniel Starch.

“All ads to be successful”, he nearly said,

“Must of course be seen and read

But more than that, before your chance has gone

It must be remembered to be acted on”

Great sage, O Starch, your greatness sits

In teaching us, good puff persuades in bits.

Another chap (Anon) reworked Dan’s law

And summed it up with letters four.

“Let our darling AIDA take her bow,

To gain attention and our interest now;

But after, when desire is raised in lieu

Her call to action entices you”.

Of all the men whom darling Aida met,

There stands a group especially in her debt.

The men of Procter, so the bards do tell

Liked her rubric and loved her well

Too much, in fact; consumed by lust

All Aida’s wisdom has been ground to dust.

For all the best becomes the worst at last

When madmen play the rules too hard and fast!

Day-after-recall’s not the best of tools

Except for client knaves or research fools!

Too much!

Let us sing of greatness once again:

Of Joyce and Channon, of Segeula’s men!

Of Rosser Reeve’s USP

Of charming, wily David Ogilvy

“At sixty miles an hour, all you’ll hear

Is the sound of chasing taxmen coming near.”

And last of all, we sing of D.E.B

(Who, it must be said, as yet employs me)

In his book, (so the one who’s read it said)

“All art, with science, is nice ‘n’ neatly wed”

And so, all admen who seek out effect,

With page one five five your eyes connect:

“All ads to convince must visible be,

And pregnant stand with identity

But without simple promise, they’ve far to go

Along that line to positive cash flow”

With words like these, he won old Tosh’s crown

So was it then for this,  that David wore that gown?


September 1982


Post Scriptum:

David died in August 2017 aged 88.

He had a profound effect upon so many people, especially me.