Friday, August 19, 2005's like Radio. With pictures.

I have a good friend who sells television advertising. This friend is a huge believer in the "A picture is worth a thousand words, so :30 seconds of moving pictures is like a freakin' novel" school of advertising. One of his clients has done something that I'm not so sure I agree with...and it's not just because I'm an audio producer.

It came on the air last night. A :30 commercial. A TV commercial with lots of very nice pictures...and NO audio. No music bed. No announcer. Nothing but silence. I wasn't "watching" the TV at the time, it was on in the background as I was in the studio. About 25 seconds into the commercial, I thought "Hmmmm...dead air on the TV?" and I turned to look just to see the face of an old woman fade to black and segue into a cheezy car dealer ad (we'll talk about those another time!). Now, I knew what the commercial was for because he'd told me about it...but there was no impact. In fact, I thought something was wrong. Is that effective? It could be argued that since it's different, it stands out (and I'm sure that's how they sold it to the client). However, without an opening sound of some sort, my attention never went to the screen. My eyes never saw the logo. If anything, it made the screaming car guy leap out even more (heck, if I'm the car guy, I'm asking my rep to put me after that commercial everytime!).

SAYING something impactful can alert me to the pictures you want me to see, but hoping that I'll give you my attention without it is a risk I'm not willing to take.

On the other side of the coin, remember a few years ago when Motel 6 did a TV commercial with nothing but a black screen?! Tom Bodett, their announcer for nearly 20 years, was explaining that the black screen we saw was actually the inside of a very expensive hotel while we slept. He also told us that the inside of a Motel 6 looked EXACTLY the same while we slept, so why bother spending the extra money?!

Same advertising concept, with much different results. Motel 6, I know and feel good about. The funeral home...well, to be honest...their name escapes me.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Spec Miata racecar

The #08 Spec Miata is hitting the track again soon. On Labor Day weekend, watch for us to spread the word about Great Advertising by running wheel to wheel with other crazy folks at breakneck speeds!

Saturday, Septemer 3rd @ Gingerman Raceway, South Haven, MI

A lot of folks ask us WHY we sponsor a racecar. I have to be honest with's because racing is like life: you run as hard as you can next to other folks who are doing the same and see who's better. It's competition, just like you're in everyday when customers choose to shop your company! Join us at the track and celebrate the competition of LIFE!

Sales. It's such a dirty word!

I've never considered myself a "salesman" per se...but in a sense, nearly ALL of us are in sales of some kind. Anytime we ask someone to spend their money with us, we're "selling" even if it's something as simple as a cheeseburger or as complex as a creative idea that will turn into a marketing program.

I heard someone say recently that sales is simply a transfer of confidence. Meaning that if you believe in what you have, someone else will see your excitement and want it. That I can understand. Certainly, if the waitress tells me the cheeseburger is "REALLY good, and I don't normally like cheeseburgers", I'm going to try the damn cheeseburger! Similarly, when someone comes to your business, if you're confident (without being cocky), they'll see that and feel ok spending their hard earned money with you.

This whole post came up because yesterday I got a wonderful compliment from a client. This woman and her family own a very successful retirement community, and I was leading the creative meeting to develop their new commercials. When we were done, we were just chatting and I mentioned I was talking with some folks about doing some freelance writing for me...well, she said in no uncertain terms "We want YOU to keep working on our projects. YOU're the reason we bought radio!" I have to admit, that was a great feeling...but more than that, it was a transfer of confidence: mine in my ability to create something that was effective. Theirs because they feel I'm the guy to keep their campaign running smoothly.

So, I guess I am in sales afterall. Now, about that cheeseburger...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Does anyone REALLY talk like that? Hell No! So don't put it in your commercials!

I submit to you, the following...

V1 I'm sick & tired of not being able to get high speed internet where I live
V2 Haven't you heard about Satellite Speed Internet? It's coming soon from (XXX), our local authorized local service provider.
V1 No, but I'm sure it's not available where I live, nothing ever is.
V2 No, really. It's available virtually everywhere...and it's available from (XXX) so you know you'll get good service.
V1 Yeah, but how fast is it & how much is it going to cost me?
V2 Speeds up to 30 times faster than dial-up and for $49.99 a month from what I've heard.
V1 Man, I'll give (XXX) a call & get the scoop.
V2 Well slow down there buddy, I said it's coming. (XXX XXXXX) will be available mid to late August, but you should call them for more details
V1 OK man, this sounds like the solution I've been waiting for!

This copy was given to us by TWO local retailers who are going to offer this service in the next few months. It was written by the service's advertising agency who was no doubt paid a lot of money to "create" it. And it won't do $#!t for them. Why? Because no two human beings have ever had this conversation before. Ever. Never. Too many commercials are written as dialog without anyone ever asking "why?" Why does this have to be a dialog? Now, occasionally, dialog works. Comedy. REAL dialog (a recording of 2 people just talking for instance, not scripted). But "advertising" like this screams to a listener "HOW DID HIS BUDDY KNOW ABOUT THIS SERVICE THAT'S NOT EVEN AVAILABLE YET? HOW DID THIS GUY KNOW THE PHONE NUMBER BY HEART? WHY DIDN'T THE FIRST GUY PUNCH HIS BUDDY IN THE NOSE FOR BEING SUCH A SMARTASS? THIS IS A COMMERCIAL AND I'M NOT GOING TO LISTEN ANYMORE."

Do yourself a favor, do your listeners a favor...and for God's Sake, do your BUSINESS a favor: advertise convincingly. You've got 15 or 30 or 60 seconds of my attention, you'd better say something I care about. If not, you didn't lose never had me in the first place.
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