A Commentary on Bad TV: Who’s writing this stuff anyway?

Filed in Advertising by on August 20, 2011 3 Comments
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Did you ever watch a television commercial and wonder, who wrote this stuff? I do. Every day.

I watched Al Roker (ala The Today Show) on-camera for The Office Depot open with, “Who helps businesses and kids succeed?” Really? The Office Depot help kids and business succeed? Are you giving away school and office supplies for free because you’re a commodity retailer and customers can buy what you sell from any competitor, a grocery store, a drug store or by bulk at Costco. And are you tutoring or offering free consulting because that’s what kids and businesses need to succeed, not another pen supplier. And the close - “Life’s good when the kids are happy!” Really, Al? Really? Lipton Iced Tea details their three simple ingredients (two if sunshine is not an ingredient) in a spot as the Terminator-Tea girl catches a ride on a Vespa through downtown rush hour traffic to the zen-like close of, “You are what you tea.” Really, Lipton? You are what you tea? It’s either a failed not-so-distant reference to “you are what you eat” or some kind of secret girls that drink tea coded message that (in my humble opinion) drops the ball on an otherwise simple message of “our tea is 100% natural”. Gasoline retailer Valero closes on, “Down the road, and down the road of life.” That doesn’t even sound right – did they use Google Translate for the English version? You’re a commodity product, fellas. Thinking about the kids education or a retirement property in Boca is not going to get customers to your pumps, especially not at $4.35 a gallon. It’s location, location, location, and these days, only when I’m running on empty. (Side note: the video is no longer available on YouTube and has been removed from their web site. Perhaps someone from corporate has finally seen it?) I clicked thru a few channels to find the Better Marriage Blanket spot open with, “It’s the problem in the marriage bed that no one likes to talk about. Maybe that’s why the call it… silent, but deadly?” Now granted, you’re trying to sell a blanket with a built-in military-grade carbon filter, but citing playground fart categorizations is the best copy solution for introducing features and benefits? At :43 seconds they bring it home with, “You owe it to your marriage to try the Better Marriage Blanket. It makes a great wedding or anniversary gift, too.” It’s good to know marriage counselors have this new tool in their arsenal (pun intended). And do you register for this when you get engaged or is it one of the things friends from the office go in on? Please. The elevator door opens to deliver, “Hey, Mr. 1-800-Dentist, what’s the best way to find a dentist besides calling 1-800-Dentist?” Admittedly they get the client name in twice before he sneaks in “no one screens dentists like we do, or does more to help you find a perfect match” but the opener is so “it’s opposite day” that the other 24-seconds makes it difficult to follow along (who’s on first, and why do you keep getting in the elevator when you see that creepy girl?) let alone remember your differential advantage. This is how you talk? This is what you want me to think about when I think of your products and services? This is the smartest thing you and your people came up with? Doesn’t anyone read this stuff out loud before they approve it? I read aloud everything I write, and perhaps this is where this rant is going: Listen to yourself. Read your commercials out loud. Ask yourself, would I speak like this if I was personally selling this product or service to someone I knew? It helps me hear how a commercial is going to sound from my client to the audience, how these words are going to work together, and how these sentences deliver the message we need to communicate. Or how they won’t. Commercials that over reach rarely reach their market (that’s why they call it over reaching.) The Office Depot’s “Life’s good when the kids are happy” is an over reach from the store on what they can deliver – office supplies, not a happy life. And the only thing Valero can deliver down the road is a fill-up at the next exit. Commercials that emphasize tag lines that are category specific help the category, not the product. Lipton may bring awareness to iced tea, but nobody is recalling “you are what you tea” in the grocery aisle. A commercial that uses language that their audience won’t does not start a conversation. The Better Marriage Blanket presents an already niche product to a fraction of its prospects because of the childish reference and poor copy development. The larger opportunity was to maintain the user dignity through the commercial, and to make it acceptable to talk about the product with the decison makers and influencers without losing self-esteem. Figuring out what to say is one thing. Figuring out how to say it using television and reaching your communications goals is quite another. Learn from these commercials, and the ones you see like these, to insure your campaign communicates well. [/ismember] [nonmember]

Did you ever watch a television commercial and wonder, who wrote this stuff? I do. Every day.

I watched Al Roker (ala The Today Show) on-camera for The Office Depot open with, “Who helps businesses and kids succeed?” Really? The Office Depot help kids and business succeed? Are you giving away school and office supplies for free because you’re a commodity retailer and customers can buy what you sell from any competitor, a grocery store, a drug store or by bulk at Costco. And are you tutoring or offering free consulting because that’s what kids and businesses need to succeed, not another pen supplier. And the close - “Life’s good when the kids are happy!” Really, Al? Really? Lipton Iced Tea details their three simple ingredients (two if sunshine is not an ingredient) in a spot as the Terminator-Tea girl catches a ride on a Vespa through downtown rush hour traffic to the zen-like close of, “You are what you tea.” Really, Lipton? You are what you tea? It’s either a failed not-so-distant reference to...
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About the Author ()

Kevin Popović is a communications expert, featured speaker, and author of '20YEARS Communications: 20 Leaders, 20 Questions, 100's of Lessons.' After more than 30 years of professional experience, he helps business leaders make smart decisions about communications. In 2010, "KP" was ranked #43 in Fast Company's The Influence Project measuring the "most influential people online." In 2014 he was ranked as one of the "Top 40 Digital Strategists in Marketing" by the Online Marketing Institute.

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  1. The Ideahaus Editorial Calendar – August 2011 | Ideahaus® | August 24, 2011
  1. Roddy Gibbs says:

    I’m a social member of ideahaus, but I still can’t access the article in it’s entirety.

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