Stuart Elliott: Once Again, It's Time for "20 Questions"

By Stuart Elliott Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Stuart Elliott:  Once Again, It's Time for "20 Questions"

In what's become a Thanksgiving tradition, it's time to ask another 20 questions about advertising, marketing, media and popular culture -- and no fair calling the ones you don't like turkeys.

Did President Trump get the idea for his allegations of midterm electoral fraud -- attacking people who "put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again" -- from a scene in the 1940 movie The Great McGinty, where the title character does just that?

Speaking of Trump getting ideas, was his scatalogical mangling of Rep. Adam Schiff's last name inspired by the Pop cable series Schitt's Creek?

When the Wise Company runs commercials on cable TV for a Black Friday sale, just how black, and bleak, will that Friday have to be for a firm that specializes in supplying emergency and survival food?

Was it an act of self-control or just an oversight that the author of the New York Times obituary of the screenwriter William Goldman waited 12 paragraphs before quoting his famous remark about the movie business, "Nobody knows anything"?

Did the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences have second thoughts after voters gave the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special to Glenn Weiss, the director of the ABC broadcast of the 90th Academy Awards -- the lowest-rated Oscar show in TV history?

After all these years, isn't it nice to see the brand character Uncle Ben wearing an open-collared shirt instead of the blue jacket and bow tie that evoke stereotyped imagery of a servant?

Are the characters in radio commercials for the AT&T Store -- promoting deals available only in New York City -- who say "Take the F" referring to a subway train or being rude in a coded way?

Are the tricky creators of a direct-mail subscription offer for the London Review of Books more proud of the envelope that misleadingly proclaims, "Account Summary Enclosed" -- since it's an offer there is, of course, no account -- or of the dodgy flyer inside that describes the discount price as a "credit adjustment"?

Do shoppers who see magazine ads for the new Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Thin & Crispy brand declaring it's "a cookie straight from 1937" make a point to double-check the packages for the expiration dates?

If a proposed rule to add prices to commercials for prescription drugs is approved, will manufacturers have to amend the disclaimers to include side effects such as sticker shock, empty wallets and fainting?

How many Hispanic customers of the Spectrum division of Charter Communications were freaked out when they received junk mail from the company in envelopes bearing in large letters the words "Oficial Abrir Immediatemente" ("Official Open Immediately") and "Informacon Importante Adjunta" ("Important Information Enclosed"), which turned out to be peddling deals on internet and voice services?

Why do new TV commercials that celebrate the Crunch candy brand as "the chocolate bar all Americans love," made with "100% real chocolate," not feature actual consumers but instead use -- as text on screen discloses -- "paid actor endorsements" by individuals who "are fictitious"?

Is the Big G General Mills cereal Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios really just a version of the Big G General Mills cereal Reese's Puffs, reworked into Cheerios form?

Did the wonderful, full-page, pink newspaper ads from the Cadillac division of General Motors that saluted Aretha Franklin on the day of her funeral make up for the absence of any kind of tribute ads from its Chevrolet division when Dinah Shore ("See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet") died?

If the Coca-Cola Company invests in drinks infused with cannabis extract, wouldn't it be a perfect opportunity to bring back the 1971 "Hilltop" Coke commercial with its hippie-ish, peace and love vibes?  (Hat tip to Henry Spierer.)

How long will it be before Parade magazine introduces a companion to its popular feature What America Eats called What America Tweets?

Does anyone who buys products from Ripple, which sells wholesome, dairy-free, plant-based foods, remember when Ripple meant a sweet, cheap, flavored wine made by E. & J. Gallo?

Did the folks who came up with "The place to go fooding" for the Fairway Market grocery chain come from the Midwest, where "Let's go Krogering," for the Kroger grocery chain, was a familiar slogan?

Isn't the Environmental Defense Fund sending mixed signals by mailing to potential members printed "certificates of appreciation" recognizing them "for your action and generous support to fight climate change"?

If a reporter asks Netflix executives if they realized that the title of one of their new series, Insatiable, is also the title of a classic pornographic movie starring Marilyn Chambers, will they reply, "You ask a lot of questions for someone from Brooklyn"?

Editor's Note:  Look for the next Stuart Elliott Report on Wednesday, December 5.

Photo credit:  Bruce Mars/Unsplash

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