In the UK they’re using poetry to hawk everything from McDonald’s to cheese to insurance. How odd to think. Cue pundit testimony wherein someone provides a variation of the “poetry is the oldest form of advertising” argument in 3… 2… 1….
Robert Graves, the war poet, once remarked that, “There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.” Penury has been a repeating motif for poets throughout the ages, but advertising has always been one possible source of income for the modern jobbing wordsmith.
Two prominent adverts, both of which lean heavily on the emotional appeal of poetry, are currently airing on our screens – a David Morrissey-narrated ad for McDonald’s (”the Gothy types and scoffy types and like-their-coffee-frothy types were just passing by”), and a Pete Postlethwaite-narrated ad for Cathedral City cheddar cheese (”On the A47 it’s cheese with cucumber / It’s lunchtime for her as the rest of us slumber”). In recent years we’ve also seen poems used to advertise the AA, Waitrose, Center Parcs and the Prudential. But what do poets feel about this unsteady dance with commercialism?