Earlier this year there was a particularly inane radio commercial to be heard on RTE radio. A hapless quiz contestant ("Peter") is asked three questions about a car, and answers correctly in each case "Escort CL", whereupon the question-master exclaims "Congratulations Peter, and you have won..." "An Escort CL", "No a lovely book of poetry". And general mirth ensues at the sneering answer. It was one of the more fatuous examples of a generally fatuous genre: the advertising men meeting their public on a denominator that is both common and low. Was it, I wondered, some sort of feeble response to toyota's successful use of Brendan Kennelly? But Ford has an unhappy history with poetry anyway. Back in the 1950s, Ford of America commissioned the eminent American poet Marianne Moore to come up with a name for their new model. She took the job seriously - and why not?- and came up with alist of some eighty possible names for the Ford marketing men to choose from. None would do, however, and the men from Ford went their own way and came up with the name "Edsel". The car was a flop, legendary in the history of automobiles. Would you buy a second-hand book of poetry from a Ford dealer?
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