COMMENT: Endlines finally go respectable but it doesn’t suit them

Well, well. According to the Sunday Express, the late Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, came up in 1959 with the endline, ’Whoever minds how he dines demands Heinz.’ I suspect this is a myth: the line neither scans nor is it pithy. Its formality also sounds somewhat dated, even for 1959. If Ted Hughes were still alive, I’m sure he’d sue for libel at the mere suggestion he was its author.

Well, well. According to the Sunday Express, the late Poet

Laureate, Ted Hughes, came up in 1959 with the endline, ’Whoever minds

how he dines demands Heinz.’ I suspect this is a myth: the line neither

scans nor is it pithy. Its formality also sounds somewhat dated, even

for 1959. If Ted Hughes were still alive, I’m sure he’d sue for libel at

the mere suggestion he was its author.



But no matter. The great thing about endlines is the way myths build up

around them. Inevitably, the great ones seem to have been written by at

least ten people, all of whom claim it was their idea and their’s

alone.



And as for the bad ones, well nobody ever admits to those - they just

sort of appear from nowhere. After all, how else could you explain such

recent monstrosities as Royal & SunAlliance’s completely risible

’Together we make some alliance’ which, by the way, sounds even worse

than it reads?



The Sunday Express article was inspired by the latest edition of the

Oxford Dictionary of 20th Century Quotations, which has for the first

time included a list of famous advertising endlines. The 59 chosen

include the obvious ones - ’Beanz Meanz Heinz’, ’Have a break, have a

Kit Kat’, ’New Labour, New Danger’ and ’Heineken refreshes the parts

other beers cannot reach’ - as well as some that are more surprising.

How, for example, did they decide to include ’Access - your flexible

friend’ and the V&A’s ’an ace caff with quite a nice museum attached’, a

line which seems to be inordinately pleased with itself.



Still, no doubt the presence of the list will be interpreted in some

quarters as a belated recognition of advertising’s impact on popular

culture, thus bestowing a kind of respectability that comes from sitting

alongside such worthies as Isadora Duncan, Ludwig Wittgenstein and

Prince Charles.



I’m not so sure. The great irony of the exercise is that very few of the

endlines chosen are still in use today. Heineken has moved on; either BT

has dropped ’It’s good to talk’ or I’ve successfully programmed it out

of my consciousness; and I’d be grateful if anyone could tell me when

Yellow Pages last used ’Let your fingers do the walking.’



And that, surely, is the point: advertising, while part of popular

culture, is part of a disposable culture. Products change, market

conditions change and so, inevitably, ads and endlines change. The very

act of including these essentially transient creations, therefore, gives

them a permanence they were never meant to have.



Of course, media fragmentation today will make it much harder for

endlines to achieve such mass appeal - which is exactly why, if you’ve

noticed, advertisers are turning to a new kind of endline. Forget the

catchy slogans, look out for the website address.



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