Tag Archives: commercials

You Know What I Was When You Brought Me In

8 May

I love a well-crafted commercial–and insurance companies hire some of the best firms in America. However, the recent GEICO ads bug me, because they hired these personalities to do a job opposite of what they do.

For those who aren’t familiar with this ad series, you can watch it, but here’s the gist. GEICO brings in this celebrity, they start doing their schtick, and the executives say, “You know, that’s really not what we’re going for.” The celebrity does more of that schtick, and the execs correct them again. That’s their “Take the Drama Out” rollout.

Why this annoys me is the concept is first, these are “claims auditions.” If these were anonymous actors pitching their best ad campaign, this would make sense, but these are known people. You know exactly who they are. Dick Vitale is a sports announcer; he says wacky things, he’s big, he’s boisterous, he exaggerates. Then these execs tell him (politely), “Yeah, that’s not what we do…” Then why the #($& did you ask him to come in?!

Billy Blanks is a high-energy exercise magnate; he’s gonna do a workout. Lisa Loeb is a successful singer-songwriter who does catchy mildly-depressing songs. So… it reminds me of when the boss asks you to do something that’s WAY out of your job description, but you do it anyway, and then they say, “Well, that’s really not what I wanted.” Really? Gee, maybe you should have asked the person who’s supposed to do the job to do it!

I’ll admit, part of my complaint is that I really love Lisa Loeb… and Dick Vitale, and I don’t want to see them humiliated on TV. But it’s that tone-deafness that really annoys me. I guess I’ve been in that situation too many times myself, grinding my teeth, because… well, my job is often whatever my boss says it is. A job description is a description, not a list of absolutely do’s and don’ts. Yeah, I could pitch a fit, say I won’t do it, but… that really removes a lot of my boss’s appeal to keep me around.

A pet peeve? Possibly, but considering how good GEICO ads usually are, I find it a slap in the face. Of course, I could be thinking about these too hard–what do you think? Let me know in the comments below! Speaking of advertisements, check out one of my books. However, if you found this post less than my normal quality, go ahead and download one of my stories for free.

Literally Phoning It In

4 Apr

Commercials are endlessly fascinating to me; to get to your attention, it had to go through several levels to get approval before it got on the air. So how is it that a commercial so bad made the airwaves?

After so many days of serious posts, I figure I need to talk about something trivial. Vitamin supplements are the source of my pain today… well, ads for supplements, anyway. These radio ads are literally someone calling in on their crappy phone, testimonials about how they’re going higher, faster, stronger thanks to Brand X. There’s even a pet version of this with a cute dog barking at the right moment when the customer says the brand name.

So when you’re listening to AM radio, where the signal can be glitchy, and you can often barely hear the radio hosts… adding a “I can barely hear you on the phone” element seems ridiculous. Same reason I hate it when people call into the show; which is why my favorite shows have abandoned that schtick and have settled with texts and email.

But I have to remember Marketing 101: product, price, promotion, and place. The product is super pills. Just like any medication, you can’t show the disease, you show the cure. You show someone living clear of plaque psoriasis or walking barefoot without fungal warts. Price… eh, let’s not mention the price. It’s never mentioned, just a free sample, because once you get sold on the item, paying $50 a month (or two weeks) seems reasonable. Until you do, it seems ridiculous. When I started losing my hair at 25, I could have used Rogaine, but it cost… well, exactly the same. I didn’t have money in my budget to pay $50 a month! So better to shave my head than carve out a chunk of my wallet.

Promotion–this is a radio ad. So maybe this is the clue to understanding a “phoned-in” ad. So many times, I’m used to advertisers using the same ad for online, TV, and radio… and it doesn’t make much sense. When the voice actor says “click on the link to learn more,” I start chuckling because… I’m listening on the radio! A voice actor gets tuned out. Having the host (or a host you know) lets the ad keeps your attention longer, but that means paying the host more. So if the average radio listener’s ear makes the slick commercial ineffective, why not throw a little cash at some customers (or better yet, employees pretending to be customers), record the calls, then shoot it out to the radio networks? You’ve saved on production costs and gotten a superior product!

Which leads to the place–you’re trying to reach people in cars. They can’t “click to learn more,” they can’t even write anything down. So… repeat the brand name, repeat the phone number, and hope it sticks in the listener’s head. The advantage of the testimonial is the same with having the radio host read the ad; it lends the illusion of respectability. And hey, if you repeat the ad, they’ll remember the stupid brand name in their sleep!

So… perhaps there is method behind the madness after all. Now if someone can explain the stupid Coke ad where this excited voice actor sounds as if drinking a new Coke flavor will lead to you becoming the next Steve Jobs, that would be helpful. Or Mountain Dew’s “Baby-Puppy-Monkey” ad that will still wake me up in the middle of the night in a terror. I find it funny that Wikipedia calls the reception “mixed,” but all the examples of that are all awful.

Am I thinking about this too hard? Is it just a bad ad? Or a good ad in disguise? Let me know in the comments below! And if you need another ad, check out one of my books! $1.99 is the price, but if you need a free sample, go ahead and download one of my stories. Looking forward to hearing your testimonials. 😀

Non-Political and Totally Educational

21 Feb

I listen to a lot of commercials, so naturally, I hear a lot of BS. So when I hear a pro-life non-profit suggest that they are “non-political and totally educational,” I have to question that statement. But maybe it’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it.

This is not a post about abortion; this is about the messaging of abortion. The folks who put out this radio ad are called Pro-Life Across America. Now I don’t like this ad, not because I’m pro-choice, but because it’s so cutesy. You’ve got either a sister or a mom talking to their five year old about how you can hear a heartbeat at 18 days, or moving at 10 weeks, or smiling at 12 weeks. Then Mary Ann Kuharski, the director of PLAA comes on and tells you that they are “non-political and totally educational,” and how you can help.

Now my initial thought was, “the second you promote pro-life, you are political,” but when I thought about it… they’ve got a point. Take the more activist version of the pro-life movement. The old guys who stand outside of abortion clinics with giant signs, usually VERY graphic, and shout at women who try to go into the building. To quote a great song:

Mary got pregnant from a kid named Tom that said he was in love
He said, “don’t worry about a thing, baby doll I’m the man you’ve been dreaming of.”
But three months later he say he won’t date her or return her calls
And she swear, “god damn, if I find that man I’m cuttin’ off his balls”
And then she heads for the clinic and she gets some static walking through the door
They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner and they call her a whore
God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose

Everlast, What It’s Like

PLAA is not marching in front of the Supreme Court building (although some of their members might), their job is reach out to scared, recently pregnant young women, and convince them to keep the baby. They do this through ads and billboards. In my town, there’s a place near Arizona State University called “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” which I know is a pro-life center, but most people don’t. Politics aside, they are totally educational. They’re not going to provide you any drugs, no medical visits, they’re going to point you to folks who will help you through the pregnancy and beyond.

There is a whole network of services out there to support new mothers, shelters to live, day cares to help with the baby, ways to help pay for medical care… but you need a way for these young women to find this information out. So yeah… the more I look into it, the more I respect their approach. I disagree, but it takes away one of my arguments: “You care about having the baby, but don’t give a damn what happens to the baby after that.”

Doesn’t mean I like the cutesy approach any better, but at least, I can see that they’ve thought this through beyond putting up billboards. But what do you think? Is better messaging the key to avoiding political blinders? Is my definition of “political” too broad? Do you get annoyed at cutesy ads too? Let me know in the comments below!

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