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.


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