An Author's Assemblage: Brief Notes and Notices

The accumulation of posts to this web page serves merely as an author’s assemblage of brief notes and notices: the collection of informal bits of information, quotations, and observations gathered as one way to display a personal reflection of perceptions on poetry, publication, and related selections of material drawn from my perspectives as a poet or professor of literature and creative writing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Marianne Moore's Moment in Marketing

As the government-subsidized “Cash for Clunkers” promotion wound down last night and was extended again into today, I recalled a recent commentary, “Poetry in Motion,” in the New York Times by Danny Heitman, who reminded readers how, in addition to Ford Motors hiring an advertising agency to come up with recommendations, Marianne Moore was once informally asked to suggest possible names for marketing a new model of Ford automobile. Ultimately, neither the agency’s numerous selections nor Moore’s poetic but perhaps impractical inventions worked for the corporate executives, and they eventually made their own choice of name for what would become an infamous car because of its failure in sales. They called it “the Edsel” after the past company president and son of founder Henry Ford.

An excerpt from Heitman’s article about Marianne Moore’s imaginative contributions to the selection process:

“Moore embraced the assignment with relish, not surprising for a poet who enjoyed—and whose writing was frequently inspired by—popular culture, whether it be baseball, boxing or bric-a-brac. The correspondence became a cultural fixture of its own after it was published in The New Yorker two years later.

“Throughout the fall and winter of 1955, Moore’s steady stream of suggestions arrived at Ford: ‘the Ford Silver Sword,’ ‘Intelligent Bullet,’ ‘the Ford Fabergé,’ ‘Mongoose Civique,’ ‘Anticipator,’ ‘Pastelogram,’ ‘Astranaut’ and, the highest flight of fancy, ‘Utopian Turtletop.’”

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