Monday, 16 August 2010

THE ART OF THE PUT-DOWN, or the 'Bon Mot'

The relevance of this to marketing or to presentation is that all of us are forever seeking the simple and crushing meaning of the universe; our very own “42” as it were.

If only we could find our own “Reassuringly expensive” or “Because you’re worth it” we should succeed.

Dream on…

The smart line is seldom enough unless like Oscar Wilde that’s all there was, a never ending volley of smart one-liners. Or if you’re Lord Saatchi what he calls the two word equity (see Stella Artois above).

But in its time it was devastating.

Example, Harold MacMillan having just stood down as PM meeting a young historian Simon Schama who tripped and fell flat on his face in front of him to be greeted as he blushing arose by MacMillan saying:

“Gratitude understandable; prostration quite unnecessary”.

Or Dorothy Parker going through a doorway ahead of a rival who muttered “age before beauty” and without pause Dorothy riposted:

“No, my dear, pearls before swine”.

But this is not about smart lines alone, it’s about a mastery of the English language possessed by only a very few writers like Frank Skinner in the Times and comedians like Michael McIntyre.

My recent favourite was in Bombay proving the Indians have really got what we once had. It was a poster beside a road which said:

“Impatient at wheel, patient in hospital.”


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