Monday, November 19, 2007

Don't Squeeze My Credit

Actor Dick Wilson died this week at age 91. The actor, best remembered for his characterization of grocery store clerk Mr. Whipple, admonished women too cozy with toilet tissue, "Ladies, please don't squeeze the Charmin!"
This bit of fluff would not really phase me much if Mr. Whipple didn't have a local connection. I was told by an editor that an Ocean City man, Norman Schaut, who once worked at New York advertising firm Benton & Bowles, coined the trademark slogan "Please, don't squeeze the Charmin."
I really don't care about stories like this. If Dick Wilson were an immortal and never died, would we really care who wrote the slogan? But because Mr. Whipple is dead, now people take a sudden interest in an advertising campaign that hasn't been on TV since the 1980s.
The story doesn't end here: John Chervokas, who also worked at Benton & Bowles, claimed it was he, and not Schaut, who wrote "Please, don't squeeze."
Let's put this into perspective, shall we? Two grown men are fighting over a slogan to an ad where a grumpy store clerk yells at women not to molest toilet paper. I'm sure Dick Wilson's family is happy that the memory of their loved one is being preserved through a pissing contest by two crusty ad men.
But let's really put it in perspective: the death of Mr. Whipple is a tragic national event. Not since the demise of Clara Peller, whose "Where's the Beef?" stirred us out of our social ennui during the beleaguered Reagan years, or the untimely death of Michael Vale who played Fred the Baker whose classic line "Time to make the donuts" filled America with joy, has one's absence been so keenly felt in our cultural psyche. 
Someone had to tell those grabby housefraus not to feel up the merchandise. We only wish you'd be around to yell at a new generation of nutty women.
I know there's another star in Heaven tonight. God bless you, Mr. Whipple. God bless you. 

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