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Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

Casting – it makes all the difference

In Agency Biz, Uncategorized on December 26, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Perhaps you’ve seen the new commercials for Ally Bank. The campaign features a sleazeball presenter using various verbal ruses and omissions to trick children as they try to play with various toys; the point is that even kids know what is and isn’t fair – why don’t banks?

It’s a good idea; but  the performers are what really make the spots work – especially the kids, whose sense of innocent indignation is perfect. (Maybe it’s not acting, but that’s beside the point.)

Another campaign that does a good job of casting is the AT&T wireless spots.  The “mom” in the spots is wonderfully believable in her facial expressions and mom-like insistence that her family use, rather than waste, their rollover minutes – a unique AT&T benefit. Her most frequent target – her teenage son –  is equally well played with eye rolls and other typical teen reactions.

You can probably think of some spots that you didn’t like because of poor casting or performances. But more importantly, there are many thousands more that you simply don’t remember because the casting choices were nothing special, or didn’t quite click. (Perhaps if Wendy’s hadn’t recognized the memorability of Clara Peller, it would be a lot further down the fast food pecking order right now.)

I should know the importance of casting from my own experiences. My sample reel contains an inexpensive spot, filmed in Columbus, Ohio, for a small tax preparation service. The spot is far better than it deserved to be, thanks to a wonderful performance by the lead actor.

At the other end of the spectrum, however (and certainly not on my sample reel) was an ill-fated attempt on behalf of Jack-in-the-Box Restaurants (one of my first big-name clients) many years ago. I was certain that Read the rest of this entry »

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Fun event a real “low note” of the holiday season!

In Uncategorized on December 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

The holidays bring many, many traditions.  Classic Christmas movies are on TV and live performances of “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol” are plentiful. Choral groups put on their festive seasonal shows. But Saturday, I enjoyed a performance that set a very low tone – hundreds of them, actually – as the Music Department at the University of Nebraska at Kearney put on a “Merry Tuba Christmas.”  The “Low Brass” section of the student orchestra was joined in the effort by musicians from the surrounding community who played the tuba, or euphonium, or any of their deep-voiced partners in mirth.

It was quite a sight…and quite a sound….as they led the audience through several holiday favorites. The crowd was invited to sing along, and many in attendance did — although who the heck would know??!!  The merry musicians, numbering more than 50 and ranging in age from 12 to 82, seemed to be having a good time tooting away (musically speaking, of course).  Some wore colorful scarves, others Santa caps, but  all made a major contribution to the holiday spirit. (The Christmas cookies and hot chocolate after the show were an extra-nice touch.)

It’s just hard not to smile when you hear a tuba. It really put ME in the spirit. Good thing for my colleagues that my accordion is such a long way away at the moment….

Pearl Harbor vs. “Black Friday”

In Uncategorized on December 7, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Around this time – especially with a war going on in the Middle East and the annual reminders of Pearl Harbor – we think about soldiers, and the prices that they and their families pay. Then we get back to planning our office parties, playing our video games, and arguing about how we pick a college football champion. And yes, even pontificating on our little blogs, as if each of us and our opinions were so darned important. 

It occurred to me that if we are really serious about honoring the memories of those who died (and the sacrifices of those who served or are currently serving) we should give a little more thought to how we spend our time, as measured against those sacrifices. We are quick to offer thanks for the protection of “our American way of life.”  But it would be nice if we used more of the freedom they bought for us on things they would be proud to have dedicated, and sometimes given, their lives to protecting.

Were they defending our ability to have family moments, reinforcing the bonds between parents, children and siblings? Or the right to obsess about getting to the mall at 5 a.m. on a certain day to save money? Were they protecting the fun and team spirit of playing and watching sports, and winning or losing as a team? Or wasting hours of contentious blather about how much we “need” a college football playoff…or what a rich and famous golfer does with his time….or what coach – himself a human being — ought to be fired from his job, in our so very knowledgeable opinions?  Americans uniting for worthy causes, or Americans Read the rest of this entry »

At least it had a “mini-bar.”

In Just Thinkin', Memorable Marketing on December 2, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Okay, I’m afraid I’m going to have to go “Andy Rooney” today and talk about something that gets…and probably deserves…little attention. You often hear jokes or quips about “stealing the shampoo” from the hotel, or people who seem to live off the little individual-serve amenities that come with stays at most hotels.

I empathize with hotels. I know those little things can’t cost much, especially in light of the lofty room rates. But put yourself in their position. What is the best way to show guests a good, comfortable stay, but minimize waste along the way?

This issue reappeared on my “radar” recently when I was making a long cross-country drive, and was determined to rest for the night in the least-expensive accommodations I could find, short of parking amidst the semis at a truck stop and sleeping in the car.

Well, I found an inexpensive one, all right.  (All relative, of course…it was still painful to think of the other things I could have done with the money if I had driven straight on through, instead.) And I won’t go into detail about the place itself.  I’m not a snooty person, but I assume bullet-proof glass is there for a reason. 

Anyway, when I approached the sink in the guest room, I was a little surprised to see a postage stamp. When I turned on the light, I noticed, of course, that it was really the bar of soap! (I’ve included a picture of it, with my cell phone for size reference.) And it’s thin enough to fit through the coin slot in your average piggy bank. Read the rest of this entry »