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Arthur Schiff Dies - Copywriter Behind Ginsu Knives

     
4:49 am on Sep 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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If there is an afterlife and any cosmic justice, the first words Arthur Schiff heard when he died were:"But Wait! There's More!"

Schiff, the copywriter behind those immortal words and the name Ginsu knives, died on August 24 of lung cancer at his home in Coral Springs, FL. He was 66.

During his career, Schiff reportedly wrote an astounding 1,800 DRTV short-form commercials pitching everything from the amazing Steakhouse Onion Machine to Tripledge Windshield Wipers....

[directmag.com...]

5:08 am on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Working in Direct Response copywriting has long been the most highly measured and demanding form of commercial copywriting around. Long before the web, these folks used every metric they could devise -- and if the stats weren't good, then the jobs dried up for that writer.

Yes, I do laugh at some of the kitschy, corny lines. But this copy really sold and it's worth a lot more than amused chuckle -- it's worth a very close study, because it works. Schiff was most definitely a master.

3:02 pm on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"it slices, it dices..."

"slices so thin, it makes one tomato last all winter long.."

The dude was a master.

4:23 pm on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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For those of you who aren't old as dirt, and never experienced the magic that is the Ginsu Knife Commercial

In Japan the hands can be used like a knife ...

[video.google.com...]

4:58 pm on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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For those of you who aren't old as dirt, and never experienced the magic that is the Ginsu Knife Commercial

Ahem ... "old as dirt" are we? I bought a set of Ginsu knives for our cottage in 1979. I guess I was on the "cutting edge" ... so to speak.

They were crap by the way. I threw the lot of them in the garbage but my oh so thrify hubby dragged them all back out and used them in his workshop and in the garden for years. Schiff's ads worked on me!

[edited by: Liane at 4:58 pm (utc) on Sep. 9, 2006]

5:25 pm on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Didn't he also write, "If you act now"? I love those corny commercials.

Condolences to the Schiff family.

9:46 pm on Sept 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Respect to Schiff! He was a true genious.
3:16 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Wall Street Journal quotes him as once saying [roughly]:

"I can make a good commercial for $25,000. For $100,000 I can make a commercial that's a little slicker but I can't guarantee it will sell more products than the cheaper one."

3:18 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Ginsu knives were made in Ohio, btw.
11:21 am on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Ginsu's are great for cutting aluminum cans, but not so great in the kitchen...
5:22 pm on Sept 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"I can make a good commercial for $25,000. For $100,000 I can make a commercial that's a little slicker but I can't guarantee it will sell more products than the cheaper one."

Same thing can be true for websites, can't it!

9:13 pm on Sept 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Pretty sad
11:29 pm on Sept 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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So what made his copy so effective, even if kitschy? Something about his catch phrases reminds me of music -- hooks in particular. Like a familiar tune, some of his phrases are impossible to forget. He used both rhythm and rhyme in an infectious way to break through to the guy dozing off in front of the boob tube.

I read a comment in Direct magazine a while back that most of the top copywriters also write poetry -- because they just love words.

[edited by: tedster at 6:12 am (utc) on Sep. 18, 2006]

4:12 am on Sept 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Tastes like fruit, goes crunch to boot. -Froot Loops

Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.

Hungryyy, Hungry Jack! They gobble 'em up and the plates come back, for Hungry Jack!

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Oh, we're the men of Texaco
We work from Maine to Mexico

Something to be said for rhyme, alliteration, meter, etc.