My post is a little late this week since there has been so much excitement going on. I'll be starting a new position on Monday and can tell you more about it later. I can tell you it will be nice to be back in the airline industry. We'll get back to having fun with advertising and making fun of those things that deserve it in future posts but for this week, let me just encourage you to pick up one of my books and enjoy a good story and a good laugh. All three books, as pictured, are available on my Amazon page. Additionally, all three are available in print, Kindle and audio format. I trust you will enjoy them and I look forward to your comments so select one of the books, read it, comment, share and subscribe. TTFN
Those who have studied journalism will remember having been taught the five W’s. Well, that and never put a picture on the fold. While the fold thing may not be as important as it once was since most of us get our news from sources other than the traditional printed page, the five W’s are still the foundational structure of a properly presented news story. Who, what, where, when and why still need to be asked and answered by the journalist or else the news consumer is left asking those questions for themselves without the benefit of an answer.
By way of illustration, let’s take a look at a recent news item that caught the attention of and was reported by many local and national news shows. I saw the story on three different news outlets and still don’t know what caused the event. What I do know is that a grandmother and her dog were lost in the desert and were rescued. The grandmother, with her dog in the car was reported to have been driving in the desert and got lost. With no cell coverage available where she found herself, she evidently decided to hoof it to civilization and eventually laid out a “help” signal made of rocks and bones. After being spotted from the air, she sat on a rock and bawled and the officer rescuing her sat with her and hugged her.
The story we were given by various media outlets was one of grit, perseverance and a happy ending with hearts being warmed all around. Well, wait a minute. Did she run out of gas? Did her car break down? What would cause her to leave her car and wonder through the desert? Why wouldn’t she just keep on the road and drive to civilization? Inquiring minds want to know. None of those questions were answered in any of the coverage of this story that I saw.
We’re all glad she was rescued but has the media taken the Biblical principle of “let he who has never made a stupid decision cast the first question,” a little too far in their failure to find out what may have caused this dilemma? My take is that the news coverage available to us is just not of the quality it once was. Who do you think is a good news person? What would you change in news coverage? Where do you get your news? When is it wrong to ask questions? Why is any of this important? Your comments could be breaking news. Scoop the other guys and get yours posted here first while you are liking, sharing and subscribing! TTFN
,One of my favorite movies is Captain Ron. In one of the opening scenes the son knocks over a carton of milk and immediately picks it up and places it upright on the counter. Just a few seconds later another scene shows the milk carton lying down on its side as if it had never been righted.
That’s the continuity person sleeping on the job. You’ve seen this happen in sitcoms where the shot switches back and forth between two people in a conversation. The collar or tie on one of the characters is in a different position each time you see them or in really bad cases they are wearing a different tie or shirt. You might also say the person doing the editing made a faux pas by missing it.
There are a couple of editing doozies out there in TV commercialdom that deserve to have a raspberry blown at them. The lady in the insurance ad is standing still when the commercial comes on and then starts to walk down the scenic path as she “shares” how a wonderful insurance program has been good to her. No, no, no! The whole idea of this type of ad is to show that an everyday person in an everyday situation is just like you as they go about the normal routine of life such as walking down a trail and not worrying about her insurance coverage. In final editing, the clip should have been trimmed so the commercial starts with her already walking so we could get the feel that we just happened to catch her in her daily routine. Instead, the ad tells us, “This lady is now going to walk so the ad can have some action in it.” This cut caused the ad to fail in its objective to bring us into that woman’s personal viewpoint.
Similarly, the ad that shows the football star getting out of the barber chair at the end of a hair cut undermines the message it should be conveying. We see the athlete getting his hair cut and telling us about a product that has made his life even better than it was. The ad was supposed to let us see that a famous person does everyday things just like you and me and therefore the product that helps him will help us. Unfortunately the guy that edited this one let the clip go too long. We see the football star finish his line and stop halfway out of the chair and look at the camera with a facial expression that says, “You mean like this?” The effect is that after we watch this one, instead of thinking, “Oh, I want to try some of that product,” any image of the product itself is pushed out of our head by thoughts of how obviously staged the action was.
Of course, the director shares some of the blame here since he should have told the talent to get up from the chair and walk away instead of just telling him to “act like” he was getting up out of the chair. These ads, like others we have discussed, didn’t do their jobs. The money and time spent on them was wasted. Who’s to blame? In this case all of the above but I can tell you that if an ad I ordered for my company turned out like one of these, I would have it done over. You may not have noticed these things before but you will now. Did I ruin ad viewing for you? OK, go ahead and yell at me or share an ad fail you may have noticed in commercials and as always…..like, share and subscribe. TTFN
I was speaking to a group of sales reps recently and asked them if they had ever seen the ads that included the guy sitting at the table with the kids asking them questions. They all allowed that they had seen the ads and enthusiastically recalled their favorite versions. They were wonderful ads that included humor and showcased how cute and engaging kids can be.
After the sales people finished discussing how they enjoyed the commercials, I asked if any of them knew what was being advertised. The ten or twelve people in the group took turns guessing what the ads were about and after several attempts one of the members of the group finally said, “Hey, wasn’t it about a cell phone or something?”
Yes. It was. AT&T was advertising their wireless service. By contrast, those of you who are old enough to remember the phrase, “Do you know me?” will easily recall that it was the American Express card that helped the famous people in those commercials get the services they wanted even though they may have been known by name only and not recognized by sight.
That brilliant campaign ran from the mid 1970’s to the mid 1980’s and tripled the number of card holders for American Express. It was so popular and well received that in addition to the seventy some that were featured, Am Ex had dozens of other big-name celebrities asking to be on the ads.
So, what have we learned? My point to the group then and to you now is that if we have seen or heard a commercial several times and don’t know what it is about, then it didn’t do its job. Cue the toilet flushing sound and watch the money spent on production and air time swirling down the drain.
By the way, (and I bring this up only as a shameless self promotion and to sell more books) one of the people on those American Express ads was Red Adair. He was famous for fighting oil well fires and was the subject of the 1968 movie Hellfighters starring John Wayne. I had the privilege of having Rad Adair as a passenger. My recollection of meeting him and our conversation is included in my books, “Learjets And Layovers” and “Freight Dog” both of which are required reading.
As an additional item of interest, C. F. Frost, the name that is seen on the card above and in many of the classic American Express commercials, was one of the ad execs at Ogilvy & Mather, the agency that came up with the campaign.
Comment early and often then hang around for our next post when we’ll examine editing and directing to determine what went wrong with a couple of commercials that could have been better. Till then….like, share and subscribe. TTFN
It’s seldom that a voice talent becomes famous or even known by name. A couple that come to mind are Mel Blanc, probably the greatest cartoon voice guy ever (Bugs Bunny et all) and Don LaFontaine. You’ve heard his work. He invented and popularized the movie trailer genre that generated so much excitement about new movies by saying, “In a world….” Yeah, that guy.
Long after LaFontaine’s death, we still hear the impact of his work each time a new show is announced on TV. Of course, the guys doing television imaging aren’t as good as LaFontaine and most of them seem to be trying too hard. They’re all using that low, whispery, baritone gravel voice that drags the trailing end of a phrase out too long and sounds like they are trying to sneak up on you. It’s gotten out of hand and it’s really annoying. Just tell me what the show is and I may watch it. Your sneaky, scary, over-excited and over-acted voice will have zero effect on whether I watch a show or not.
Believe me, I understand and appreciate the value of good voiceover work as much as the next guy. I don’t want to be one of those guys that quotes studies but studies have shown that an ad with a British voice can be forty percent more effective in an American market. Not surprisingly, an American accent does the same in a British market. I get it, the right voice can make a big difference. A British accent is good for perfume, fashion or jewelry. Toilet paper, not so much. I don’t care if you do use some cute euphemism in reference to a person’s posterior. Calling an ass a “bum” doesn’t make it any more pleasant to hear about your product wiping it.
We’re all so used to having Sam Elliot sell us trucks that we have become conditioned to believe that anything manly has to be presented with a deep bass voice. It worked well for Ram Trucks but Firestone failed miserably with their ads. They intended to convey a sense of masculine identity associated with their auto parts. Instead, the male voice talent adopted a vocal affectation that sounded forced, creating a cartoonish, caricature of what was supposed to be a manly voice. He added too much spice and ruined the chile. It’s not like cowbell. You can never have too much cowbell.
I don’t do a lot of voiceover work any more. Most of what I did was during the time that my radio show was still on the air and sponsors would ask me to do their commercials. Even though I have closed my production company and scaled my studio back by quite a bit, I am still very active in making fun of advertising that deserves it. Won’t you join me? Toss in a comment about the ads that bug you and while you have your fingers on the keyboard don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. More later, TTFN.
On the consumer side of things, we would all rather just fork over the ninety-nine cents for the ad-free version of our favorite app and not be interrupted or annoyed by the unsightly commercials that would otherwise cover the cost of the app. Those of us on the production side of things however, like the revenue those ads generate.
Advertising makes the world go around. No business happens unless somebody buys something. Nobody can buy anything if they don’t know it exists. It is advertising that fixes that problem.
Naturally, those who have products to sell want their advertising to be as effective as possible. Enter “Retsyn.” Let’s discuss. You remember those old ads for Certs. “It’s a breath mint.” “No, it’s a candy mint.” Not surprisingly, the government deemed it to be a candy for tariff purposes since candy was taxed differently than oral hygiene products. Cadbury, the makers of Certs, eventually got the decision overturned in an appeals court legally making Certs a breath mint.
Take that, you arguing couple on the commercials who told us Certs has Retsyn. What the hell is Retsyn, you say? Well, I’ll tell ya. Retsyn is a trademarked name for a combination of copper gluconate, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and flavoring. Wait, what? That’s just candy! Are you telling me that Certs has candy in it? Yep, that’s about the size of it.
But here’s the cool part that gets us back to our point. They called it Retsyn and once you knew that Certs had Retsyn in it, you were less likely to settle for just any breath mint that contained some lesser ingredient. It occurs to me that the Retsyn two step was incorporated in a couple other ads we’ve seen lately. Consider The National Sleep Foundation for instance. Who would want a pillow that wasn’t endorsed by those folks? And don’t overlook The National Vitamin Council that put their seal of approval on those vitamins that we now know are the best ever.
Yeah, I think we can all agree that the aforementioned foundation and council are just the new Retsyns. They are all just a figment of some Madison Avenue genius’s imagination. Do they have any effect on you? Have you seen any others that we need to make fun of? Don’t keep it to yourself. Jump in and tell us about it while you’re liking, sharing and clicking the RSS button and as always, go forth and do clickwise. TTFN
Yes, that’s the opening salvo you’ll hear on any interview with celebrities, sports stars and pundits of every ilk. Lesser experts being interviewed on local news magazines usually start out with, “exactly,” as the first word in answer to the initial question. The only time you will hear something other than that will be when a news reporter is asking an eye witness to give an accounting and you will invariably hear, “I seen it.”
My theory on the consistent bad grammar of eye witnesses is possibly that they are selected specifically for their inability to structure a grammatically correct sentence so as to not shine brighter than the reporter. (This is where I put in the part about that being a joke and urge my many friends in the media to not send me any hate mail.)
As far as the verbal ramp-up mentioned earlier by so many talking heads, my guess is that they are just so used to hearing and using those phrases that they are unaware they are even doing it. Well, look, I mean you know, that could be the reason.
That same habitual or accepted use theory would also explain why so many local news teams use that annoying head turn to the camera in all of their ads. As a pilot I have watched the local news in a myriad of different cities during layovers. I can raise my right hand and swear that in every television commercial done by a local news crew, each reporter would turn their head to look at the camera as they were introduced.
We can probably cut the local news guys some slack but there is no excuse for the major network golf coverage that introduces each of their on-course announcers and have them, one-by-one, look up from facing their lap to facing the camera. It doesn’t get any hokier than that and what the hell were they looking at down there anyway? (Don’t answer that.) I don’t know for sure but that may be the same network that has coerced those poor innocent college football players into doing the same goofy move as they are introduced at the beginning of a game.
We didn’t do any of that on the radio and my television appearances consisted of a smattering of small parts. I wasn’t the star so I never got introduced. Maybe I’m just out of touch. Well, I mean you know, I am getting old. What do you kids think? Let me know in the comments and keep your pencils handy for the next post. We’ll be making fun of advertising. Oh boy! I can’t wait. Share on social, tell your friends, click the RSS feed button and as always, go forth and do clickwise. TTFN
You probably think this post is about you, don’t you? Well, I’m not Carly Simon and this post is not about you. It’s about the other guy. You know…the one that never gets back to you. Everybody has a pet peeve and as you may have guessed, one of my most hated and biggest pet peeves is people not getting back to you. Granted, if I’ve left a message about life insurance or a multi-level marketing scheme then fine, I understand you not returning my call. I would even applaud your discretion but if I have a reasonable expectation of a response then it is just plain rude for you to not get back to me.
Most of the time, the people that are not returning calls, emails or texts are in an office that is packed with equipment that is specifically designed for communications. They are sitting at a desk with a fax machine, telephone and computer right there in front of them and they even have a smartphone in their hands. Those are great toys. Play with them!
And don’t try to tell me you’re busy. Everyone is busy. I used to fly for a living. During those times when I was executing an instrument approach to minimums in heavy weather then yes, I was too busy to return your call. I can tell you though, I would get in touch with you once I was back on the ground.
Great thinker that I am, I pondered what could possibly cause some to ignore those who have tried to contact them. A couple things came to mind. There are certainly people with issues that preclude their ability to process things like you or I do. They just really don’t remember and are like the absent-minded professor or it just doesn’t register in their brain that proper social protocol dictates that they acknowledge others and respond.
Those who are deliberate in their failure to respond however, have no valid reason. Some falsely believe they are demonstrating or wielding power over those that are waiting for a response. Similarly, they may be attempting to create the impression that they are important and in great demand by withholding or delaying access to their time and attention. Others have never developed the ability to say no and are simply afraid they may be asked to do something or buy something if they respond to someone who contacted them. Come on people, grow a pair. It’s OK to say no.
There are even those who hide behind their voice mail so they can, at their convenience, pick and choose who and what to deal with. When you reach their extension you will hear their recorded voice, "I'm sorry I can't come to the phone right now. I'm either helping someone or out of the office." NOT! What they really mean is, "I'm sorry you called. I'll fit you in later when it is convenient for me, if at all."
And don't get taken in with this one either. The person answers the phone and says, "Oh, I am so glad you called. I really want to spend some time with you on this but I was just leaving the office. If you can call back next Tuesday I will be able to spend more time with you." I was a linguist in The Air Force and I can translate this one for you. What they actually said was, "I am so pissed at myself for answering the phone. I promise it won't happen again." Yeah, you'll never get through to that person again.
Of course, it's possible that I just may be out of touch and could be wrong about all of this but at least I got back to you on it. What sayest thou? Tweet, like, share, subscribe, comment, give ‘em what for and above all…enjoy! Now go forth and do clickwise. TTFN
Well, OK, if you insist, I'll do a blog. Here you go. Are you happy now? I didn't really want to do a blog and resisted as long as I could but was dragged kicking and screaming into the blogosphere against my will. Although, now that I think about it, it might not be so bad. I can say whatever I want, make fun of all the things I really like to make fun of and maybe even promote a couple of things that deserve promoting. (You know, like the books I write and other neat stuff.)
You know, I'm actually starting to like this idea and I think you'll have fun and enjoy it too. We'll talk about aviation, my books, advertising, travel, the finer things in life and anything else you want to throw in by way of suggestion in the comments.
The title "Clickwise" is from my upcoming YouTube channel. The idea is that what is discussed and shown will offer some guidance as to what is good, worthwhile, interesting, useful or just plain fun. It will be reviews, news and how-to's that will help you navigate the confusing keyboard of life. Enjoy! Subscribe! Comment! Share! But most of all, enjoy! And with that, I beseech thee, go forth and do clickwise. TTFN