Union College and the Time of Schaefer. Final Part.

Following on from Part III, this will conclude my “literary Schaefer” ad survey. F. & M. Schaefer of Brooklyn and Albany, NY placed a series of writerly spoofs in a college newspaper in Schenectady, NY ca. 1960.

This ad was the third I located, published in Concordiensis on October 17, 1958:



In this case, the literary allusion is grasped more easily (for me) than in Part II. Clearly the “hardboiled” detective genre is being sent up, adroitly as for each ad in the series, and not just that but the latter-day, gothic version of hardboiled. It was typified by the novels of Mickey Spillane and his hero Mike Hammer.

While evidently parody is involved, a kind of pastiche is, too, given the Concordiensis audience, indeed for all three ads.

Putting it differently, the idea was to sell beer/entertain but also instruct. The didactic element may have been designed to deflect criticism of pitching beer to impressionable youth. Or maybe it was just, hey this is a campus audience, let’s get clever.

The Spillane sub-genre stressed violent outcomes and remorseless motives, but ultimately in the name of justice or other values of heart to Mike Hammer.

The parody takes it to cartoonish lengths – after all it is parody – yet not without irony in this case.*

Did these Mad Men move any Schaefer, though? Hard to say. Probably among some of the male audience they did (see Part III), at least.

Whatever its success, the Schaefer campaign reveals a literate quality of which modern advertising seems largely innocent. In 2021, short vague declarations are order of the day for ad geniuses, at least for mass market beer by our gleaning.

In truth such lapidary formulae were always used in some beer advertising, or at certain times, but it seems competing forms have been banished to Coventry.

Beer ads of 50 and 60 years ago provide other examples of brainy bruiting. I discussed the Guinness Lewis Carroll send-up, the Carlsberg Revolution series, and the Labatt 50-Montreal university example.

I’d have thought all these, frankly, would capture more interest from my readers than seems the case. Craft beer has its share after all of ex-arts, -literature, and -marketing students – maybe then some.

Perhaps it’s all too far back, “a foreign country” in the famous phrase. I’ll continue to course its by-ways, for those who appreciate it, while not neglecting less musty routes, shall we say.

Note re image: Image drawn from the 1958 advertisement linked in the text, via New York State Historical Newspapers. All intellectual property in the source belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.


*Before turning novelist Spillane had a successful career as cartoonist.



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