Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The worst commercial I ever wrote

Occasionally I will use this pulpit to critique other people's advertising work. I don't do it nearly as often as I'd like (let's face it there is a lot of crap out there) because I still have to work and put food on my table and bagging on potential employers is just not good business sense.

The other reason is, I don't want people thinking I walk around with the attitude that "my shit doesn't stink." Because it does.

Big time.

Many moons ago, when I was a Creative Director at Chiat/Day, my partner and I were put in charge of the homestore.com account. The CEO of this fledgling company fancied himself the next Bill Gates, and he might have been, had Bill Gates been a sleazy, underhanded snake of a man without a shred of personal integrity. Mr. Gates is now giving away billions of his dollars to starving children. The former homestore CEO is now sitting in a federal prison for stock embezzlement.

We had proposed a great campaign for homestore -- which is now realtor.com with all the real estate listings in the country. The campaign was all about Americans who live in unconventional housing. It was a great way to demonstrate the broad spectrum of American individuality and how that is expressed through the homes we chose to live in. Eventually the campaign became a documentary, Home Movie, that aired at Sundance and went on to a national theatrical release.

But the homestore CEO didn't think the idea was big enough to launch the company. He wanted something epic. And, like many who walk into the Chiat/Day building, he wanted something like Apple's "1984."

And so to get to produce the work I wanted, I had to write the spot I didn't want. 

Despite Joe Pytka at the helm, despite the beautiful landscape and cinematography, despite the million dollars of production value, the spot is a bloated dud. The music is wrong. The tone is wrong. The concept is wrong. Mind you I had a hand in the production, so I take full responsibility. But at the end of the day, the homestore CEO got the epic he wanted -- an epic turd.

The only good to come from the entire debacle was the Media department telling us there was very little inventory left for 60 second commercials. So the spot aired for three weeks in 1999. With very limited rotation.

I wince every time I see it, so if it aired once, it was once too many.

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