Tag Archives: maine

When Do “Bad” Ads Mean Effective Advertising?

Take a look at this spoof commercial from The Midnight Show:

Maybe I have a different philosophy when it comes to advertising, and professional videographers who consider every commercial they produce to be “art” may put a bounty on my head for what I’m about to say, but I honestly don’t think that “good advertising” is defined by how the spot looks… Rather, it’s about what the message is, how memorable it is, and where, when and how often it runs.

We have a used car dealer in town whose TV spots positively suck, aesthetically speaking. He’s an annoying on-camera presence, and the ads are campy and poorly shot. He runs his ads heavily and non-stop all over cable TV, and EVERYBODY in town mocks him and his tag line, and talks about how bad the ads are.

Did you catch that last part?  Everybody in town is talking about him.  And if you have damaged credit and need a car, his dealership is the first place you think of.

Lousy ads?  Or effective?  When his ads come up in conversation, mine is usually the lone voice that says, “Aw, man, GREAT campaign!”  To me, the worst ads are the ones that get forgotten as soon as they air.  I’d name a few, but they were so boring and ineffectual that they didn’t make any sort of impression.

“Just because your ad looks good is no insurance that it will get looked at. How many people do you know who are impeccably groomed… but dull?”  — William Bernbach

Now, quite obviously the above video was done strictly for laughs, but I think an ad shot like the one above is actually MORE effective because of its (albeit intentionally) lousy production value. It makes it more memorable.  I probably wouldn’t use a spot like this to advertise video production services like these guys did, but I think I could make a case for any other product or service using a spot like this — something “so bad it’s good” — as an opportunity to poke fun at itself, give viewers something to talk about, deliver a strong, salient message, and create something really unforgettable.

What do you think?  As a business owner, would you care what people said about your ads if, at the end of the day, your sales went up, your revenue increased, and your business improved?

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Mark’s Music – S#*% You Won’t Believe

Here’s a recent TV spot we produced for Mark’s Music in Brewer, Maine, featuring “Mini-Mark”, an animated cartoon character we created based on the store’s owner (who’s a character in his own right).

The client decided to turn a recently thwarted robbery attempt into a sale, so to advertise it, we went with a “Breaking News” approach, with Mini-Mark at the anchor desk.

These spots are always a lot of fun to put together. A great reminder that not all local advertising has to look like “local advertising,” y’know?

Working Together, Living Apart: Chapter 2 – The Remote Studio

About six weeks ago, my wife Kelly started her new job in Tucson, Arizona, leaving me to contend with winter back in Maine. Well, a few days ago, I decided I needed a break, so I packed a bag and flew out for a visit. I’m now writing this post from the apartment we’ve dubbed “Slaterville West.”

True to winter’s form, a Nor’easter prevented me from flying back to Maine on my regularly scheduled departure date, leaving me stuck here in Tucson for a few more days. With projects due back home. So it’s been a great opportunity to set up our remote studio and take it on a little test flight. Frankly, I’m amazed at what technology enables us to do.

In addition to my computer and related audio and video editing software — all of which I already had — I’ve invested in two tools that have enabled me to complete all the work I otherwise would have had to push back. The first is a USB-powered Samson C01U microphone. It provides studio-quality sound with only the most minor enhancement needed, and is an absolute steal at about a hundred bucks.

The second: GotoMyPC.com. For an annual fee of $100, I’m able to access my main (or Maine) computer from anywhere, at any time. It’s quite literally like looking through a window into my home office. All my files, programs, e-mail, everything is accessible, usable, and transferable in both directions. Pretty awesome. It was easy to purchase, and easy to install. In fact, with the one radio spot and one TV spot I’m producing this week, both the mic and GotoMyPC will have paid for themselves.

(The view from my AZ computer to my ME computer via gotomypc.com)

As my wife and I prepare to make our permanent move west, there will likely be a lot of travel back and forth between Maine and Arizona over the next six months. I’d had some initial concerns about missing work opportunities due to the technical restrictions that working remotely might present. But it seems like every day there’s a new bit of software, a new equipment upgrade, or a new application that allows us to keep right on going with our lives, no matter where our lives may lead.

So while my travel plans may leave me in warmer climes for a few more days, I must admit, I’m kind of torn. While I’m thrilled that I won’t HAVE to miss any more work, I also won’t GET to miss any, either.

Working Together… Living Apart

Today, Slater’s Garage changed in a pretty significant way.  Kelly Slater (my partner in life and in business) just packed up the car and departed from Maine to start a new job in Arizona.  This is a WELCOMED move – one we’ve been dreaming about, plotting, and planning for a long time, and we’re incredibly excited about the opportunities that moving to a larger (and warmer-weather) media market will bring.

The job offer and subsequent relocation happened very quickly, and during winter in northern New England, which means that for now, it’s not really practical for the rest of the family to make the move.  Our two kids still have to finish college come spring, and listing and selling our house in Maine may take awhile, so the rest of us stayed behind, while Kelly establishes “Slaterville West.”

Like many self-employed people, Kelly and I work pretty closely together.  I brainstorm with her about clients, we co-write many radio and TV scripts, and when we need a female voice for a spot, she’s almost exclusively my go-to person.  Notwithstanding the personal aspect of being apart, this move will also change the way we work.

In addition to my usual posts about media, ads and audio I also plan to share with you some of the facets of being a married couple who works together, but lives apart.  We believe it CAN be done effectively, especially with the availability and simplicity of digital communication, e-mail, phone, Skype, and related applications.

Will there be challenges?  Of course.  Mistakes made?  I expect a few.  But there are other families who’ve made such a dynamic work, and I’m interested in meeting them, and learning what I can from them about better ways to do business together, while living apart.

Keep watching the blog, and we’ll share what we learn along the way!

Green Acres Kennel Shop Election Campaign

Our latest animation project is for Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor.  They’re launching a “Campaign campaign” in which their three “spokes-pets” — Rex, Sparky, and Fiona — are running for Governor of Maine.

Voting is done “Chicago-style,” in which each voter casts a 1$ vote for his or her favorite candidate, and all money raised will go to the Eastern Area Agency on Aging’s Furry Friends Food Bank, which helps provide pet food to senior pet-owners in need.  Voters are encouraged to “vote early, and vote often!”

A great cause, a fun video/animation project, and a really unique approach to fund-raising!  Pleased to have been a part of the creative team on this one!

Heatwaves and Hummingbirds

As Hurricane Earl blows through this weekend, we’re finally getting a bit of rain.  About time.  Summer in Maine this year has been particularly dry, and consistently warm overall, and this past week, we had several days in a row when it was over 90 degrees.

It’s been a (pardon the pun) hot topic on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and I wanted to share in the conversation with my Facebook friends and other connections, so I produced this video, which I then passed around as “my two cents” about the recent Maine heatwave:

Hopefully, you were surprised by the ending.  That was the goal:  To offer you something unexpected — something that would remain with you after you’d finished watching and moved on to something else.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that my mind loves to be surprised.  I love that “woo-hoo!” feeling my brain gets when I see or hear something that delights in an unpredictable way.  And when I write ads for my clients, I strive to do the same: to give the audience — their prospective customers — something unexpected, so that their business is the one the audience remembers most vividly, and most often.

Do your ads delight your audience and your customers with something unexpected to remember you by?

Cable TV and the Economic Stimulus

Every so often on cable TV, I see promotions offering incentives to new cable subscribers: “Sign up now, and get the first 3 months FREE!” or some similar reward to prospective customers.

I’ve been a loyal cable subscriber for the past 8 years.  I’ve paid my bill every month, and use my cable company for not only TV, but also internet and telephone service.  I think that’s worthy of some sort of reward or sign of appreciation, don’t you?  Certainly more worthy than someone who’s not even a customer yet.

So, one time, after seeing one of these offers on TV, I called the cable guys and asked ’em, essentially, “What about me, your long-time, loyal customer?  Aren’t I deserving of a similar spiff?”  The good news:  They were kind enough to extend the same offer to me.  The bad news:  I had to ask.

Similarly, when I found out about the recent housing stimulus President Obama proposed in Mesa, Arizona last week, I was prompted to write another “What about me” letter — this time to Maine Senator Susan Collins:

Dear Senator Collins:

As I watch President Obama speak in Mesa, Arizona today regarding the economic stimulus plan and the effort to slow the mortgage foreclosure rate in the U.S., what I’m seeing raises a few concerns: President Obama discussed relief for those home buyers who were permitted, and in some cases, encouraged to “overborrow,” and are now “upside down” in their mortgages, as well as extending incentives to lenders like Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac to help lenders refinance and lower their monthly payments on said loans.

My question to you regarding this matter: Could you please provide a list of government-subsidized incentives, rewards, and/or programs which are available to Americans like myself, a small-business owner who have spent my entire adult life living and borrowing within my means, working to maintain impeccable credit, and always striving to make payments on time, provide for myself and my family, and generally “playing by the rules?”

I’m very interested in learning more about how President Obama’s economic stimulus plan will address the concerns of citizens like myself who don’t need or want a government “bailout,” and who feel that WE are the ones who should be rewarded for our fiscally responsible behavior. Instead, as I see it, we seem to be the ones who will end up paying the most for these mistakes, and the extremely expensive measures which President Obama is taking to remedy them.

Respectfully,

Brett Slater

It’s only been a week, but as yet, I have not received a response.  I know Senator Collins’ office is good about getting back to those who write, but I’m not expecting the same satisfaction I got from the cable company.

New business is important, obviously.  But in that quest for new customers, don’t take for granted those long-term clients who’ve stuck with you, paid their bills on time,  and continued to do business with you “the right way,” during good times and/or bad.  And (Mr. President) don’t ask your good customers to make up for the shortfalls of your bad ones.

At any rate, to MY customers, thank you.  I sincerely appreciate your continued business.  I’ll knock myself out to make sure you’re ALWAYS taken care of.  And I’ll never ask you to pay extra to cover for my or anyone else’s mistakes.  I value your business far too much.