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