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main index                  © Jeff Matthews                   entry Oct 2013

Obnoxious Advertising

Prosciutto, anyone? Recently, visitors to Capri have noticed this prominent billboard at the port. It caused enough complaints to grab some press in the local papers and get silly people like me to notice it and write about it. It's not an ad for a restaurant on the island, but rather for a specific well-known product, Ghirardi ham, available, as the sign says, “in the best restaurants of Capri." The ad is patently outrageous—maybe that was the point—except that I have seen much worse. The sign directs you to the website, very tastefully done, of the company headquarters in the province of Parma (city motto: semper fidelis prosciutto!) in Emilia-Romagna. The soundtrack is delightfully classical: to wit, "Badinerie" from Orchestral Suite no. 2 in B Minor by J.S. Bach (BWV 1067). (Whew! that took some research. I think I need a ham sandwich!) The translations in various languages are expertly done, for a change, and part of their copy, called "How to taste it," reads:

Reward your eyes by looking at the colour, for it is precisely the consistency of the product colour that has to strike us and this additional sign of trust will allow us to get closer to the product and savour its aromas….we must first crave it and then finally reward ourselves with the tasting.
Note that it does not mention taste in ham-handed advertising. I am guessing that the IHAM part is some sort of a play on iPad, iPhone, etc. or possibly, Robert Graves' I, Claudius, but I’m not sure. I’m a vegetarian; I was kidding about the ham sandwich.

Links to other entries in Naples: Life, Death and Miracles that deal with advertising are at

advertising (1)     (2)        (3)      (4)      (5)

The first one is about gigantic billboards and signs. The second one has a delightful picture that I have heard people complain about--but not Neapolitans. Number 3 is a small item about using public spaces most visible to tourists for advertising, such as the walls of the Maschio Angioino, the iconic fortress at the main port. Four is particularly offensive. They said 5 was also very offensive, but I think that's stretching it a bit. But maybe I'm a male pig, speaking of prosciutto.

Finally, I have never heard anyone complain about the item on the right. Maybe I'm overanalyzing this, but, after all, IHAM. (Somehow UGH! ME HAM sounds better, or at least more primitive piggie.) First, the advertising pillar in the photo is unusual in Naples. It is the only one of its kind in my immediate area. And, admittedly, some photos plus pillar invite double-entendre more than other photos plus pillar. I consider this particular combination one large tumescent single entendre. This was the ad on the pillar when it was first...erected. (Go ahead, shoot me.) I think now they are running smaller ads for shoes. Total waste of space. Oh, also notice that the ad across the street shows a naked woman playing the trumpet.

And just to show you how even-handed, musically diligent and asexual I can be about offensive advertising, I remember in my college band, way back in the caves, when members of the reed section (clarinets, saxophones and those other things) showed up one morning all offended out of shape—I mean they were sputtering fortissimo vituperation!) because they had just seen a billboard ad for Texaco featuring Benny Goodman, the King of Swing. (He had released a record produced by Texaco called "Swing into Spring.") On the recording, Benny sounded great, as you might expect, but the billboard ad had a drawing of a Texaco gas-station guy who looked all Benny, playing the clarinet, and our reed players were fuming! Brass players, like myself, of course, had not noticed because for us, mouthpieces are all just round. When I was finally made aware of the error, I was, yea, sore offended. I mean FORGET the Cold War and the fact that the Russkies had just launched Sputnik. Look at THIS! If you don't notice what's wrong in the photo, may an ague have your ham. (Hint: It has nothing to do with the bird.)

note: Thanks to Larry Ray for drawing my attention to the prosciutto ad. Larry has a lot of time.

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