When I see a shoe ad with the sub-headline “Excitement swept through my body,” I don’t just think, “Man, I wish I had snuck that in a brochure for Dell when I had the chance.” No, excitement sweeps through MY body, too, because something this outrageous just has to be shared. The copy in this full-page ad from yesterday’s NYT Magazine is so over the top I’m going to have to quote liberally.
PARAGRAPH 1: BAD, BAD GRAVITY
Note how we move from the wonderful, light-footed past to the crappy, dead-footed present, all in one paragraph. We’re living in the here-and-now with some unnamed narrator guy, and the living sucks. Goddamn gravity!
PARAGRAPH 2: THE CLOUDS PART—GEE, THANKS, UNNAMED DOCTOR!
“‘Wear them and you’ll know.’ That’s what my doctor recommended. He said, ‘Gravity Defyer shoes absorb harmful shock that may cause pain in your feet, knees, back and joints.’ He promised they would change my life—like they were a fountain of youth… The longer he talked, the more sense it made. He was even wearing a pair himself!”
OK, where to begin? Who is the doctor making these fantastic promises? Is it Dr. Arnold Ross, the endorser at the top of the page? We don’t know. Although it is impressive that Dr. Ross is an associate professor of podiatry at the Western University College of Podiatric Medicine, isn’t it? (But why is Dr. Ross not included on the faculty page of that august institution of lower extremity learning? Hmmm, interesting.) But what I love about this part is that the narrator and the ad aren’t making the claims, some doctor is making the claims. Tricky.
PARAGRAPH 3: A MIRACULOUS FOOTGASM
“Excitement swept through my body… I received my package from GravityDefyer.com and rushed to tear it open like a kid at Christmas. Inside I found the most amazing shoes I had ever seen… I put them on and all I could say was, ‘WOW!’ …I felt invincible, tireless in my new Gravity Defyer shoes. It was as if my legs had been replaced with super-powered bionics. What the doctor promised was all correct. At last, I was back in the game. Gravity had no power over me!”
The bold is from the original. But what I really want to know is how you type ad copy in zero gravity. Desk straps? Anyway, there’s a lot going on here, not the least of which is the implication that our narrator can now dunk a basketball through a goal of any height.
PARAGRAPH 4: THE PITCH
“So, my friend, get back on your feet like I did… You have nothing to lose but the gravity that is holding you down.”
Moral: If your feet hurt, get these shoes. Your feet may still hurt, but once you become completely unmoored from the only planet you have ever known, you’ll have much bigger things to worry about. Like floating free of an oxygen-rich atmosphere and suffocating in the ionosphere. It’s unlikely you will give a shit about your lousy sore feet then.