Stan Freberg, Advertising Satirist, Dies at 88

Apr 7, 2015
Originally published on April 7, 2015 6:07 pm
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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

A satirist who brought humor to the world of advertising died today. Stan Freberg was 88. The New York Times once called him the Che Guevara of advertising. In the late 1950s, he created an ad agency that took liberties with the way his clients' products were sold. Take this ad where he used an absurd idea to sell tomato paste.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Hello, kid, you got it straight what we want.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Yeah, I think so. You want me to take off the tower from the Empire State Building...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: And put a 300-foot can of Contadina Tomato Paste up there?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: That's right, in full color.

BLOCK: Before he went into advertising, Freberg produced comedy records and hosted a radio show. His comedy record, "Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America," used skits and songs to tell the story of this country from Paul Revere to the major inventions of the 20th century.

(SOUNDBITE OF RECORD, "STAN FREBERG PRESENTS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Detroit Michigan - 1908.

HARRY SHEARER: (As character) What are you going to call this model, Mr. Ford?

STAN FREBERG: (As Henry Ford) I call it the Model T.

SHEARER: (As character) Oh, what's that stand for?

FREBERG: (As Henry Ford) Transportation. I want every man or woman in America to be able to afford wheels. Goodbye to horses pulling carriages, hello gas stations.

SHEARER: (As character) Gas stations.

FREBERG: (As Henry Ford) Yes. I envision a day when you just pull in, pay your money to the man sitting inside behind the bulletproof glass. Then go to the pump and fill her up.

SHEARER: (As character) Oh, Mr. Ford.

FREBERG: (As Henry Ford) Yes.

SHEARER: (As character) A couple of gentlemen from Japan heard about your car.

FREBERG: (As Henry Ford) Yes.

SHEARER: (As character) They wondered if they could look at your assembly line and, you know, make a few notes.

FREBERG: (As Henry Ford) Sure, fine, be glad to help them out.

SHEARER: (As character) OK, I'll tell Mr. Honda and Mr. Toyota they can come on by, maybe take a couple photos.

FREBERG: (As Henry Ford) Whatever.

BLOCK: That was Stan Freberg as Henry Ford with an assist from fellow satirist Harry Shearer. Freberg died today in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 88 years old. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.