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Ads For Nicer Living: Make Your Pitch For What Makes Life Better

In 1972, NPR asked its audience to take a moment to think of something that makes life brighterlike hearing a kid singing, or baking fresh pies, or riding your bike on a nice day.

Then, we said, sell it to us. You like going on walks? Write a jingle — and we just might persuade Linda Wertheimer to sing it ...

The "Commercials For Nicer Living" were written by listeners and produced by NPR into little audio nuggets of pure joy.

The project was so nice, we're doing it twice — between now and Jan. 15, send us your best ad script, and we'll pick five of our favorites to produce and share.

But first, more inspiration. Put your headphones on, or crank your speaker volume up, and get ready for a dose of '70s-era delight.

Consider the joy of wading ...

Or the inimitable charms of cumulus clouds (for a limited time only!).

Susan Stamberg, the voice of the project both now and back in 1972, spoke with All Things Considered on Thursday about the original inspiration.

"Most commercials that you hear are for things that really nobody cares about. I mean, who cares about toothpaste, right? Who cares about the kind of shampoo you use?" she asks.

"So we thought, we're noncommercial broadcasters, let's suggest things that do matter ... and create commercials for them."

Some of life's little pleasures are abstract, defined as much by what they aren't as what they are. Like the "bio-clock," which is simply life without the ticktocking of a watch or alarm clock.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

Not all the ads were fully produced, with music and sound effects. Some were just read on-air, like this heartfelt love letter to, well, love letters.

Chelsea Beck / NPR

Susan says more than anything, what she loved about these ads was the mood of them.

"The times were really tough — 1972, the Vietnam War was raging," she says. "And yet what I love about this is they're so innocent-sounding. They're not cynical."

We want to bring some of that spirit back this winter.

Think of what brings light to your life — something that never fails to make you smile or comforts you in hard times. You know, something nice.

Then write up your script and submit it here. (On a phone or tablet? Click here for a mobile-friendly version.)

Thanks to NPR's Research, Archives & Data Strategy team (RAD), which has been digitizing NPR's archival content, for uncovering the audio from the original project. That tape — like 150,000 hours of audio from the early days of NPR — had been stored exclusively on reel-to-reel tape and CDs, before our RAD team embarked on a project to preserve it.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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