Tag Archives: tv

Why Use Only Half?

Would you consider producing a TV spot or internet video ad with no images — just an audio track over blank screen? Of course not.

Then why would you produce one with ONLY images, and no copy?

I’ve always found the practice more than a little frustrating. When there’s no V/O or dialogue as part of your video, and the viewer turns his head, or looks at her smartphone, or is otherwise distracted away from the screen, the ad becomes worthless. If the viewer HAS to be engaged — HAS to be looking at the message to receive and process it — then I think you’re passing up an opportunity to make a stronger connection with your audience.

Meantime, when I’m watching TV, and a commercial break comes and I get up and head to the kitchen for my beverage of choice, from over my shoulder, I’m still able to hear…

And the advertiser STILL has a chance to make an impression on my thirsty and impressionable little mind. Because here’s the thing: While video doesn’t permeate consciousness unless you’re actually watching, sound still works, even if you’re not actively listening. Add a catchy jingle like in the above example, and a high-frequency broadcast schedule, and now you’ve got a formula for an effective ad campaign.

To put it another way: In your TV ad, you have the opportunity to both say something AND show something. Why wouldn’t you do both if you have the chance?

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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?

Cello, Again, Cello

Have you noticed the recent surge in cello music in commercials?  Facebook is the most recent offender — their video explaining their new “Messages” feature sounds disappointingly similar to several other spots currently on the air and online.  Here’s just a mere smattering of similar-sounding background music which, to me, makes every ad blend together into a meaningless din, starting with the aforementioned Facebook:

The last two examples even use the same piece.  Granted, the dog food ad was from a few years ago, but nevertheless… Is that the ONLY piece of music that could fit either of those spots?

When preparing to produce an ad, I’ve had more than one client tell me, “We love the _______ commercial.  Can you do something like that?”

Well, yeah, I can.  But as a business trying to gain market share from competitors, why would you want that?  Don’t you want something that reminds prospective customers of YOU, instead of somebody else?

Funny thing is, now that I’ve pointed out these, I betcha you see/hear “cello spots” all over the place.  I know I’ve missed a bunch.  Please feel free to share the ones you find in the comments below.

Next week, we’ll tackle ukulele spots.

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!

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.