Tag Archives: slater’s

Train Wrecks and Singing Cows…

Over in Washington, D.C. at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, they TOTALLY see the value in using a little online video marketing to drive home their point about the overreaching regulations the Federal Government is trying to impose on the U.S.’s Agricultural and Ranching  industries.

And in their ultimate wisdom, they even saw fit to hire Slater’s Garage to produce these two pieces.  The first is called “The Over-Regulation All Across the Nation Blues,” and features the work of some of my favorite collaborative partners, John Hill, Bill DaButler, and Thom Osborne, who lent their animation, facial, and vocal skills, respectively, for this video:

And the second is called “The Regulatory Train Wreck,” which features many of the Federal regulations “coming down the track” for farmers and ranchers, reaching the inevitable conclusion when the track runs out:

Thanks to the NCBA for pulling us in on this project. We were pleased to be a part of it.

 

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?

Vintage Local TV Advertising

As a guy who spent the first 18 years of his life plopped in front of the TV, I had a LOT of time to absorb the lilting, dulcet sounds of all the commercials as they wafted through my mind. If you grew up around the New York City area in the 70s/80s, you may remember such classics as…

The Ritz Thrift Shop… “You don’t need a million to look like a million…”

Mount Airy Lodge… “Have a fine winter time in the Poconos…”

Crazy Eddie — His prices were insane. (And I found some Crazy Eddie outtakes, too.)

Carvel Ice Cream Stores… If my memory was ever completely erased, I think I’d still be able to identify Tom Carvel’s voice.

And finally, a JFK Express double-shot… “Take the Train to the Plane.”

Hope these bring back some great memories. If you know of any others, by all means, share ’em!

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.

8 Voiceover Tips for Beginners

I spent some time this week recording some radio spots for my friends at Sephone Interactive Media.  They host my web site, and are my general go-to guys for all things web-related.  Incredible team.

The series of radio spots I’m producing for them have a small section recorded by each of the team members, followed by a common closing recorded by me.  As I packed up my gear after the session, they asked me, “What tips can you give us to help us improve?”  So I thought I’d post a few of them here.  Bear in mind, this post is gonna be strictly about technique.  We can cover WHAT to say in another post.

I’ve recorded LOTS of clients over the years, and many of them are new to voicing their own spots.  Whenever I meet a new client for a first-time recording session, this is what I tell ‘em.

1)  Be yourself.  You’re not an announcer, and it’s totally OK if you don’t have “that voice.”  You WANT to sound like you.  Authenticity is key in people believing your message.  It’s even OK to work with your engineer/director/producer to rewrite parts of your script on the fly, to make it fit better with the way you naturally speak.

2)  If possible, stand to read.   If not, at least sit up tall.  And hold your script at eye level, so you don’t have to look down to read it.  This will pinch your airway, and affect how you sound.

3)  Position yourself with your mouth about one fist’s width away from the microphone, and speak across the mic – with your head slightly off center — rather than directly into it.  This’ll eliminate popping P’s and B’s, and improve overall quality of the recording.

4)  Smile as you read.  People CAN hear smiles. (If your spot is a happy one, of course)

5)  Over-emote.  Now OVER-over-emote.  If you’d like to convey a mood of happiness, then read as if you’re crazy-happy.  If it’s a sad, or sincere piece, then furrow your brow, and really ooze that sincerity.  No matter how far over the top you may feel like you’re going, it never sounds as overboard on the air.

6)  Envision yourself talking TO someone.  Imagine your ideal customer, or potential customer, and speak to him or her.  And imagine ony ONE person.  While your message may be heard by many, the best impact is made when each person listening feels like you’re speaking only to him or her.

7)  Practice.  Most of the time, you’ll have your script in advance of the session, so practice it.   Try different deliveries, different inflections, and so on.  This will help you with pace, and timing, as well as help you feel less self-conscious about “performing” at the session.

8)  Relax, and have fun!  This is your chance to “play radio” for awhile, and break out of your comfort zone, so enjoy it!  I’m here to do one thing: Help you be clear in conveying your message, and we’ll stay until you’re happy with the result.

These tips don’t just apply to radio, either.  Podcasting and online video are also becoming viable media outlets for businesses to communicate with their customers.   If you’ve thought about starting a podcast or a YouTube channel to help market your business, these tips will assuredly help you there, too.

Got any other tips?  By all means, share ‘em in the comments section.   And thanks, as always, for reading.  Good luck!

Reward Loyalty

Whose happiness is more important to the success of your business — that of your future customers, or that of your longtime customers?

I let my cable/internet/phone provider have it yesterday, because I found out that new customers are able to purchase their services for a lower “introductory” price than I, who have been a customer of theirs for nearly a decade.

I knew there wasn’t much I’d be able to do.  I have no intention of switching services, and the customer service rep did everything she was allowed to do to get my bill as low as possible.  But I still asked to speak to a supervisor, because if it were my business, I’d want to know if a ten-year customer wasn’t happy.

I first explained what a pleasant experience I’d had with the customer service rep who transferred me (true).  Then I told him about how happy I’ve been with their product over the years (also true), and how often we recommend their services to others (also true).  And when I (courteously) expressed my displeasure with the notion that someone who isn’t even a current customer has access to a better rate than me… you know what happened?

He apologized me off the phone.  I didn’t get my bill lowered, I wasn’t satisfied, and I still have great services at a price I feel is a bit too high.  Overall, not much has changed.  Although things between us won’t quite be the same, and I’ll probably recommend their services a little less enthusiastically now.  But more importantly, I spoke up.  And I’ll probably still follow up via e-mail to their corporate office.  Because as I mentioned, if it were my business, I’d want to know.

Best of all, the experience has reminded me to first make sure my current customers are happy, before I worry about pleasing strangers.