never said i was nice

May 24, 2020

To tease em, and thrill em, to torture and kill em,
Is her delight, they say

Hard Hearted Hannah. Lyrics by Jack Yellen, Bob Bigelow, and Charles Bates

never said
i was nice
you got some sugar
with your spice
now it’s time
to run along
here’s a dime
to call your mom

never said
i was nice
love isn’t always
thank your stars
you got to be
with someone
as cool as me

never said
i was nice
please don’t make
me tell you twice
it shouldn’t be hard
to find the door
you don’t amuse
me anymore

by Richard W. Bray

cruel and crazy universe

May 5, 2020

rain outside your window
breath upon my arm
cruel & crazy universe
ain’t doing me no harm

deliver me from tempest
in a cozy little room
shelter me till morning
with your body’s silent tune

all is made to fade away
and every creature dies
people come and people go
and only love abides

by Richard W. Bray

the truth hurts lies kill

April 12, 2020

The truth hurts
Lies kill
You told everyone to chill
Now the folks are getting ill

The truth hurts
Lies kill
Fake reporters on the shill
Saying shit is daffodils

The truth hurts
Lies kill
When they shut your local mill
Ain’t gonna fix it with a pill

The truth hurts
Lies kill
When our leaders rob the till
Everybody pays the bill

By Richard W. Bray

every moment

March 31, 2020

The way you changed my life
No, no they can’t take that away from me

Ira Gershwin

i could have
loved you better
in a million
different ways

you’ll be in
every moment
till the bygone
of my days

that came before
was leading
up to you

i’m feeling now
is from your

i’m better
cuz of you
in a million
different ways

you’ll be in
every moment
till the bygone
of my days

by Richard W. Bray

All We Need of Hell

March 19, 2020

Parting is all we know of heaven
And all we need of hell

Emily Dickinson, My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close

I always thought we’d have you
I always knew you cared
I always felt your presence
Your love was everywhere

Suddenly I feel it
Everything is wrong
Nothing’s where it should be
And half the sky is gone

The flowers on the hillside
The birds passing by
Sing to me of your love
In a cosmic lullaby

By Richard W. Bray

public relations

March 8, 2020

You torture your kids
You terrorize your wife
But you’re a
Wonderful man
In your fantasy life

Life isn’t public relations
You can’t erase the hurt
With a well-written statement

Nobody believes
Your silly façade
Not your friends
Not your family
Not even your dog

Life isn’t public relations
Are you fake and insincere
From birth to cremation?

By Richard W. Bray

Selling Swedish Coffee Through the Mail

February 9, 2020

Lester Wunderman

Brand storytelling is about standing for something and striving for excellence in everything your business does. It’s about framing your scarcity and dictating your value.
Bernadette Jiwa, The Fortune Cookie Principle

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The human mind tells itself stories to make sense out of this crazy old world. We think in narratives. For example, if I told you there were ten thousand orphans created by the latest war, that would upset you. But you would be much more moved by the details of the plight of a single orphan child.

The Father of Direct Marketing

Lester Wunderman was “the first direct marketer ever to be on the senior board of a major (advertising) agency.” He’s often referred to as the Father of Direct Marketing.

Decades before the internet existed, Wunderman envisioned a future where “a better, less time-consuming way of shopping would evolve, and the home would become the shopping center of the future.”

A New Way to Buy Coffee

In 1980, when he was working for Young & Rubicam, Wunderman was convinced he could sell premium Swedish Gevalia coffee by mail, but he faced three significant hurdles:

  1. Getting people to pay a premium price for a brand they’d never heard of
  2. Getting people to buy coffee through the mail
  3. Getting people to believe that great coffee comes from Sweden

Although Y&R’s research showed that Americans enjoyed the taste of Gevalia, Wunderman knew it wasn’t going to be an easy sell.

First of all, there are countries that we naturally associate with coffee – think Brazil, Kenya, Columbia, Italy, or Costa Rica. But Wunderman realized that “No one in America thought of Sweden as a source of great coffee.”

(Actually, the Swedes are crazy about their coffee! Only their Nordic neighbors in Finland drink more coffee than the Swedes. Maybe it’s those long, cold nights.)

Automatic Replenishment

Another problem was getting people to accept a brand new way to buy consumable products. In 1980, Americans weren’t used to receiving packaged goods in their mailboxes.

Wunderman decided he needed a come up with a “new word” to “describe the process of selling something people regularly consumed.” He settled on the phrase “automatic replenishment.” This would allow people to buy a coffee “subscription” so they “would never run out of Gevalia.” It was a very shrewd marketing strategy.

Automatic replenishment is an evocative phrase, and the word replenish contains some very pleasant connotations (refresh, restore, renew). In copywriting, it’s important to remember that the connotations of words trigger all sorts of emotional responses.

The Quest for the Perfect Cup of Coffee

When it came time to write the copy for Gevalia, Wunderman realized that he had to do more than simply choose the right adjectives. Clever advertisers had already sold a lot of coffee by convincing people that it would provide a rich, strong, aromatic, and satisfying experience. These are some wonderful words that convey a sense of wealth, power, comfort, and even a hint of sexual gratification.

It was time to try something else. So Wunderman used storytelling to convince Americans to buy expensive Swedish coffee through the mail. He decided to focus on the tale of Gevalia’s master coffee roaster Victor Engvall and his “obsession with the perfect cup of coffee.”

The Rest of the Story

How did Wunderman do it? To hear rest of the story, see Lester Wunderman’s exceptional memoir Being Direct, Chapter 22.

If you read the whole book, you’ll learn a whole bunch of fascinating stuff: Wunderman’s involvement in the early days of record clubs; how he used catalogues to sell millions of rosebushes; how he helped convince people not to leave home without the American Express Card; how he was courted by the legendary David Oglivy.

Spoiler alert: Wunderman was very impressed by Oglivy, “the best presenter of advertising I had ever seen,” but he decided to merge his firm WRK with Y&R instead.


by Richard W. Bray

somewhere there’s a rainbow

February 1, 2020


somewhere there’s a rainbow
as beautiful as you
i ain’t never seen it
but they tell me that it’s true

somehow you appeared
when i was falling apart
you sheltered me from chaos
with your beautiful heart

sometimes life is vicious
it takes everything away
it left me with a hurting
that’s impossible to say

somehow i keep going
what else can i do?
with a little bit of hope for
the world that gave me you

by Richard W. Bray

We’re Putting Bernie Sanders in the old White Hizzy

December 25, 2019

The grifters in charge
Had better beware
He’s working for the people
Not the billionaires

Come on everybody
It’s time to get busy
We’re putting Bernie Sanders
In the old White Hizzy

No more student debt
No more stupid wars
No more sons of privilege
Sneaking in the side door

Come on everybody
It’s time to get busy
We’re putting Bernie Sanders
In the old White Hizzy

Decency and kindness
Compassionate and sweet
We need a leader of the people
Not a bunch of angry tweets

Come on everybody
It’s time to get busy
We’re putting Bernie Sanders
In the old White Hizzy

by Richard W. Bray

Precious like you

November 23, 2019

Precious like a songbird
Precious like sunshine
Precious like a kind word
Precious like dinnertime
Precious like you

Precious like a rainy night
Precious like a full moon
Precious like a lullaby
Precious like a show tune
Precious like you

Precious like a rainbow
Precious like your first tooth
Precious like a meadow
Precious like the whole truth
Precious like you

Precious like a playround
Precious like a bouncing ball
Precious like an old hound
Precious like your grandpa
Precious like you

by Richard W. Bray