I’ve been hacking through the XKCD archive and came across this one.
Burma-Shave was a very well known advertiser, and quite a novel one, in the middle of the 20th century.
Adverts were placed alongside roads that gave a Haiku feel to the advertising. They gave you adverts to make you laugh as well as think but they all ended with the company name. Burma-Shave.
They were either five or six signs long, with the last one being the company name. The advertising died out in the early 1960s. Something that we never got in the UK. Mainly because we don’t have enough straight bits of road to do this right.
They were placed at distances so they would read, with a pause between each one. The death knell of the signage was the Interstates that grew in the late 50s and 60s. This stopped people driving the old “back roads”
They gave us such great ones, as well as giving a piece of road safety advice:
Don’t Take / a curve / at 60 per. / We hate to lose / a customer / Burma-Shave
Past / Schoolhouses / Take it slow / Let the little / Shaveers grow / Burma-Shave
They also helped during the Second World War with such signs as:
Slap / The Jap / With / Iron / Scrap / Burma-Shave
They also did a sign without the, familiar, punch line of Burma-Shave:
If you / Don’t know / whose signs / These are / You can’t have / Driven very far
They were also an early adopter of promotional messages. Such as:
Free offer! Free offer! / Rip a fender off your car / mail it in / for a half pound jar / Burma-Shave
Yes, bumpers fenders were sent to the company who made good on the offer and sent out the jar.
Another one was:
Free – free / a trip to Mars / for 900 / empty jars / Burma-Shave
They did actually get a reply with the pre-requisite number of jars from an Arlyss French, a Red Owl grocery store owner. The company did reply, in their own style:
If a trip to Mars / you earn. remember, friend / there’s no return
On the advice of the Red Owl’s publicity team, the company sent him to Moers, Germany [ pronounced Mars by non-Germans ]