Business Description. Part 3
7. The things that count in Vacuum Cleaning are Volume of Air and Evenness of Suction. This Oddly Shaped Fan, making thousands of revolutions per minute, creates an absolutely even, strong suction of more volume and velocity at the cleaning tool than any other device practical for a portable vacuum cleaner.
8. The men who uphold the standards of American sport today are clean men - clean of action and clean of face. Your baseball star takes thought of his personal appearance - it's a part of his team ethics. He starts the day with a clean shave - and, like all self-reliant men, he shaves himself.
Wagner, Jennings, Kling, Donovan, Chance - each of the headliners owns a Gillette Safety Razor and uses it.
9. Hot? Perspiring? Uncomfortable? You can lessen heat, perspiration, and discomfort by wearing B. V. D. Underclothes.
10. Oh ho! Picnics! that's when you want the tastiest taste - to feed the gnawingest hunger. And what is the tastiest taste? Underwood Deviled Ham.
11. Tone - that's where the Victrola is pre-eminent.
You might be able to build a cabinet that outwardly would resemble a Victrola. You might even copy the inside construction and details, if they were not protected by patents. But there is no copying the superior Victrola tone-quality.
12. Will your catalog stand rough handling?
Rob a catalog of its attractiveness and you bankrupt it as a sales producer. Nothing so certainly insures delivery of your catalogs in good condition as the use of Princess Covers.
13. Home - bread and butter - clothes and shoes - sometimes the doctor - and the chance to go to school - all these your widow or your orphans must havejust as you are providing them for your wife and children will not lessen their appetites - nor obviate their necessities - in the least degree - your going may affect only their income and consequently their ability to have these things.
§ 90. Description by suggestion is a somewhat vague term, and the thing itself runs off easily into exposition. But it is a valuable device. If you describe a man as six feet five and a half inches tall you are exact but prosaic. If you say merely that he had to stoop whenever he went through a door, you are describing by suggestion, and for some purposes this method is the most effective of all. Distances stated in figures often mean very little. But when Poe says of a cliff that its height so frightened him that he lay down flat on the summit and held on tight, you get the practical effect of the situation. You cash the number of feet into a nervous shock. Vulgar speech affords many examples of the method: his face broke the camera; his coat's so big that he couldn't pay the tailor; the dog was so ill fed that he had to lean against the house when he barked; look at that hat! wouldn't it jar you? say, but the size of his heap gives me the blind staggers. Now what can be done coarsely in slang can be done with refinement in good prose. Advertisers are learning this. Here are some brief descriptions by suggestion:
1. "Mother, guess you'll have to open another package of Kellogg's Toasted Corn Flakes."
2. Eleven miles of happiness is what our thirty thousand fresh-air guests would make, yearly, if in line like these tenement mothers at Sea Breeze.
3. Our jams give you that more-ish feeling.
4. The weight of an average edition of the Ladies' Home Journal is a mil* lion and a half pounds.
5. These bargains will make you open your eyes.
6. Cheap enough for anybody; good enough for the best
7. Don't they make your mouth water?
8. Universal Portland Cement is so good that 17,000 barrels of it are made each day.
9. Karo gives a relish you can't resist.
In all these descriptions except the second (where an effort is made to cash a number into visual terms) the suggestion is that of effects produced. Now the vocabulary of pleasurable effects is limited, and care must be taken not to increase it by random means. It does not help the description of a food to suggest that even dogs like it. Take a humble article of food like ham and eggs. If people knew how fastidious cats (not dogs) are about eating ham, it might produce some effect to say that even cats will eat your brand of ham. But people don't know much about cats, and a good many dislike them instinctively. On the other hand, if you can show that some dainty living princess prefers your brand of ham, you have a suggested description that means something.
The great interest which is supposed to be uppermost in business is the money interest. Consequently you will find half the advertisements aimed at it. The article is declared to save or to make money for the buyer. If it can be shown to do that, a detailed description is supposed to be unnecessary. But if the saving interest were strong in everybody, comforts and luxuries would not get sold. The desire to spend money is also strong. The desire to spend it conspicuously is unfortunately even stronger.
Therefore the advertising writer is more and more driven to master the subtler motives that lead to buying. If he succeeds in doing this he becomes very much of an artist. I have in mind four artistic descriptions by effect which were not written for commercial purposes, but which could be adapted for such purposes. The substance of them is as follows: 1. An old man, being asked the quality of fishing in a given pond, replied, "Young man, ef I had the choice of fishin* all day in Whitton Pond or in this sandy road, I'd take the road every time." 2. Walden pond is fit only for baptisms; blessed babies might be dipped in its transparent waters. 3. The fact that General Buller was two months and fifteen days in advancing the twelve miles between Colenso to Ladysmith is the best possible description of the country. 4. The hills rise so sharply and the houses are set on them at such incredible angles that it wouldn't surprise you to see the whole city slide down into the streets.
If one were exploiting Walden pond for business purposes, Thoreau's description of it would help. The other three descriptions suggest contrasts. A road which formerly required a month to traverse is now so improved that your car can skim over it in an hour. Houses which are so steeply set that they seem ready to fall into the street may now be easily reached by the trolley; take the trolley. Fishing once so poor that you would rather fish in the road has been so improved by stocking that you would walk any distance to get to it.
In short, business description - whether by fundamental image, enumeration of details, statement of function, or suggestion of effects - is an art which admits of great extension. If the artist tells the truth and seeks the finer applications of his methods, he will find increasing pleasure in his work, and will go far.