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The art of advertising
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 I like advertising.

I like it because I find it interesting to watch how people respond to an effort of an enterprise to entice someone to spend money with them.

I also like it because every couple of weeks the nice folks down the hall send me a check to pay me for what I do. All the ads in the newspaper help contribute to my livelihood. Therefore, I like them.

But I enjoy studying the way advertisers shape their message to appeal to folks.

When I was a kid, there was a place in Atlanta called the Big Red Furniture Barn and they had a spokesman in a cowboy hat named Cousin Jim.

Old Cuz' would come on TV and announce that if you bought a certain amount of furniture, you could get a good used car or a pony for just nine cents.

Think about it, you could get a really nice Naugahyde sofa, a chrome-trimmed dinette and a French provincial bedroom suite. Then, hand the guy a dime and he'll hand you the reins of a pony and a penny back.

Then there was Tim Timmers, who had a Chevrolet dealership. Looking back, I really liked old Tim because he was totally honest about his motivations.

Tim would come on wearing a Hawaiian shirt or an Asian-looking costume and would tell the viewers that if he sold just a few more cars, Chevrolet was going to send him on a trip to some exotic destination.

Now, it seems that the folks selling furniture and cars have a fast-talking announcer with a booming voice telling you about low payments, no interest and that "all credit applications will be accepted."

Accepted? Yes. Approved? Maybe not.

Today, it seems that retailers have also become enamored with the "One Day Sale," which is preceded by a preview day where everything is already marked down. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but isn't that a two-day sale?

The other sale line I like is "Lowest Prices of the Season." Every sale is either the biggest sale yet or the lowest prices ever.

Right now, I'm getting ready for my favorite sale day of them all: The day after Thanksgiving.

As a journalist, I particularly enjoy going out and capturing the story of people who will get up in the wee hours of Friday morning to find that great bargain.

Companies will fill newspapers with ads promoting their "doorbusters," those super-duper bargains that are priced just low enough to get you through the door at 6 a.m.

The stores that don't close, like Wal-Mart, will roll out the doorbusters at a prescribed time and you don't want to stand in the way of a determined shopper and their prey.

I live near the outlet mall at Dawsonville, which has started opening at midnight. There are folks who don't even go to bed and will drive from other parts of the state to find that elusive bargain.

I, too, am a determined bargain-hunter and get that genetically from my mother. I'm content to wait until after Christmas when they take the really big markdowns.

I know that I'm not going to need that life-size Santa for another year, but it's 75 percent off.

I'm getting ready to unpack my haul from last year. If you hear someone laughing and saying "I bought that?," it'll be me.

Harris Blackwood, a native of Social Circle, is on the editorial board of The Gainesville Times. Send e-mail to