Robert Benchley: “YOU!”


Knoebels went and did it, and really did open their Flying Turns ride, and now I’m just so torn about whether I should start hitchhiking my way there I just have to turn over the place today to the late Robert Benchley, and Love Conquers All, and a review of one of those silly little success books that we’re still getting all those years later.

In the window of the grocery store to which I used to be sent after a pound of Mocha and Java mixed and a dozen of your best oranges, there was a cardboard figure of a clerk in a white coat pointing his finger at the passers-by. As I remember, he was accusing you of not taking home a bottle of Moxie, and pretty guilty it made you feel too.

This man was, I believe, the pioneer in what has since become a great literary movement. He founded the “You, Mr. Business-Man!” school of direct appeal. It is strictly an advertising property and has long been used to sell merchandise to people who never can resist the flattery of being addressed personally. When used as an advertisement it is usually accompanied by an illustration built along the lines of the pioneer grocery-clerk, pointing a virile finger at you from the page of the magazine, and putting the whole thing on a personal basis by addressing you as “You, Mr. Rider-in-the-Open-Cars!” or “You, Mr. Wearer-of-14½-Shirts!” The appeal is instantaneous.

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