Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Glory Days

Yesterday I spoke about the annual rite of the year end agency review.

It is by no means the only regular occurrence in the ad world. Particularly here in Southern California, where all the automotive companies are located.

That's right I'm talking about the Lexus December-to-Remember Sales Event. Perhaps you've seen one of their commercials with the $50,000 car topped with a big red bow.

Thanks to Facebook, I just saw a sneak preview of their latest version in this loooooong-running campaign. It's clear from the production values and the exotic locations, they sunk millions into the new spot.

I'm not here to pass judgment. But years ago, when I was running the Jaguar account for Y&R, we spoofed the red bow motif with a series of year end sales events of our own.

While we were shooting the pre-approved scripts, we had an idea for a simple one-take spot. We weren't sure the client would take too kindly to the subject matter, so we went all surreptitious on her.

During a lunch break we had an account executive keep her stalled in the Winnebago. We grabbed two of the actors on the set and had them stand by the Jaguar with the red bow. We told them the premise of the spot and took the lens cap off the camera.

We had it in the can in less than 15 minutes, just as the client was finishing up her dessert of lemon meringue pie. Each actor got a standard $600 bump in their paycheck. And apart from the minimal time, spent in post-production, the spot was virtually FREE.

Weeks later, we showed it to the Jaguar client(s), who laughed out loud and agreed that is was funnier than all the scripts they had watered-down and focused-grouped to death.

Possibly because it had that rarest of qualities, human truth.

They made us change son-of-a-bitch to jerk.

And then, they never ran it on TV.

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