Sick and Tired Commercials

I was home sick with a cold last week, and I watched a lot of daytime TV. Saw a lot of commercials. What was really unusual, though, was that I actually paid attention to the commercials. I was so sick, I didn’t even feel like grabbing the remote to mute them.

It was not a pretty picture. Without exception, none of the advertisers had any business at all running commercials. We are talking about hour after hour of universally forgettable, blend-in, me-too spots. I was actually groaning at the television (I wanted to yell, but my throat hurt). All those dollars wasted. All that effort squandered.

Attention marketers: If your spot doesn’t make people laugh out loud…or stop what they are doing and stare…if your spot is not going to be shared on YouTube…then please, please, PLEASE, do not make a TV commercial at all. Just don’t. That goes for print advertisements, billboards and any other mass advertising, too.  (Except for the YouTube part.)

For what it costs to make and run that ad, think about how many people you could reach out to via social media. How many ads you could run on relevant web sites. How much direct mail you could do. How great an event or promotion you could have run and how much press coverage you might have gotten.

As I lay there, feeling sick, I thought back to the first commercial I ever wrote, over 20 years ago. It was for cookies, and the client was so excited when it was done. It looked and sounded like a commercial, and they’d never done a commercial before. It was professional. Well lit. Cozy. Just like the competitors’ commercials. It did nothing for the brand, because it was exactly like every other cookie commercial out there. I’d mention the brand, but it hasn’t been in business for 19 years.

We had shown dozens of storyboard concepts. Some of them were absolutely great. They were all killed. They didn’t “feel” enough like a “commercial for cookies.” A year and a half later, our main client contact was scooping ice cream at the Jersey Shore.

In this uncertain time, when everyone with a job is afraid of rocking the boat, it is worth remembering that the greatest risk any advertiser runs is “playing it safe.” Blending in. And disappearing. I’m just saying.

– Adam Schnitzler, CCO and Founding Partner, The S3 Agency

Adam Schnitzler
Adam schnitzler

Chief Creative Officer & Founding Partner @ The S3 Agency

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