A Salute to Madman Muntz!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Advertisements provide information, and the best of them are clear, concise, and clever--three of the cardinal communicative virtues. That's why we're jumping on the Wikipedia.org bandwagon in celebrating Madman Earl Muntz, one of the 20th Century's most successful ad men. Here are some highlights from a great career:

...In his used auto commercials, he marketed one model as the 'daily special'; Muntz claimed that if the car did not sell that day, he would smash it to pieces on camera with a sledgehammer.
...Muntz was willing to take large risks in his attempts to generate publicity. During the era of McCarthyism, he asked one of his advisers, ' Do you think I'd make the front pages if I joined the Communist Party?'
...By trial and error, taking apart and studying Philco, RCA, and DuMont televisions, he figured out how to reduce the devices' electrical components to their minimum functional number. This practice became known as 'Muntzing'...He often carried a pair of wire clippers, and when he thought that one of his employees was "over-engineering" a circuit, he would begin snipping components out until the picture or sound stopped working. At that point, he would tell the engineer 'Well, I guess you have to put that last part back in' and walk away.

The whole entry is worth reading...did you know it was Muntz who coined the nickname "TV"?