Ads For Nicer Living: The Oddball Gems About What Brightens Our Lives

· Jan. 5, 2017, 7:18 pm

More than four decades ago, when NPR was still in its infancy, the network had a little idea: How about we ask listeners to write ads for the finer things in life — the things money can’t buy?

The results, the “Commercials For Nicer Living,” were produced by NPR in 1972 and voiced by Susan Stamberg and Linda Wertheimer — and so delightful that we decided to revive the series.

Write your own ad script (no more than 120 words) and send it to us here between now and Jan. 15; we’ll pick five of our favorites to produce and play on air.

To get you on the right track, NPR’s Camila Domonoske shared five of the best from 1972.

But were there ever others. There were ads for tennis, fresh pie, poetry, horse riding — well, the list goes on. And it includes a few that, for one reason or another, we just couldn’t let go unmentioned.

For instance, one ad posed an immortal question: Sure, everyone’s in love with the best and the brightest things, but have you ever considered the merits of nothing at all?

That piece wasn’t a winner in ’72; all it got was runner-up status. (That’s why it wasn’t fully produced, with music and a voiceover.) Fitting, I suppose, for an ad that would ask us: “How comforting to know that, in a world where excellence stands out, mediocrity prevails?”

Still, not every also-ran went deep. Some concerned themselves with surfaces — like this mournful elegy for gravel roads:

If the idea of a road didn’t make you tear up before, well … it probably still doesn’t.

But this flagrant case of nepotism might just warm your heart. Susan Stamberg, the emcee of callouts past and present, brought her son Josh into the mix back in ’72. Then just a toddler, Josh broke out into song for a stirring number about firetrucks:

Think you can do any better? Remember, you’ve got the chance: Write a script for a commercial about what brings you joy, and submit it on the form below. (And if you’re on a phone or tablet, there’s a mobile-friendly form right here.)

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