Hemingway as Mad Man

Behold, the holy intersection of Don Draper, Ernest Hemingway, and drinking.  Or, more specifically, Hemingway, mid-Twentieth Century advertising, and Ballantine ale.  Imagine, how would the exchange have gone between Hemingway, the epic man of letters, and Draper, wizard of Madison Avenue?

Unfortunately for us, this can only be fiction.  Yet Ballantine beer, wisely using the writer’s reputation to sell its product, tapped Papa himself to pen a few words on their brew.  And what better advertisement than the words of an acclaimed novelist and drinker?

The print advertisement (pictured above, published around 1951) prominently features Hemingway himself, but it’s the ad’s peripheral – yet no less prominent details – that stand out to me: Hemingway’s most prominent novel to date, For Whom the Bell Tolls; the letterhead on which the author writes, marking his letter from Finca Vigía, his Cuban villa at San Francisco de Paula; and the ad’s challenge to its readers – “HOW WOULD YOU put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?”

However, details aside, its Hemingway’s prose that ultimately sells the product.  In its entirety:

Bob Benchley first introduced me to Ballantine Ale. It has a been good companion ever since.

You have to work hard to deserve to drink it. But I would rather have a bottle of Ballantine Ale than any other drink after fighting a really big fish. When something has been taken out of you by strenuous exercise Ballantine puts it back in.

We keep it iced in the bait box with chunks of ice packed around it. And you ought to taste it on a hot day when you have worked a big marlin fast because there were sharks after him.

You are tired all the way through. The fish is landed untouched by sharks and you have a bottle of Ballantine cold in your hand and drink it cool, light, and full-bodied, so it tastes good long after you have swallowed it. That’s the test of an ale with me: whether it tastes as good afterwards as when it’s going down.  Ballantine does.

Now if that won’t sell your brew, nothing will.

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Published in: on October 2, 2012 at 10:57 pm  Comments Off  
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