Wednesday, July 20, 2016
What about Story Selling?
You've seen this guy.
He's in an odd TV commercial. One that has had America scratching its collective head for a month or so.
Chances are you can already hear the harpy voices of the song playing in the background. And almost feel his warm soothing touch as he pats you on the shoulder.
You might even remember the car he's in is a Volvo.
And for breaking thru the enormously cluttered world of TV advertising, the crew at the ad agency (frankly I'm swamped with work and I'm not even bothering to look it up) deserves credit.
But for the life of me I don't know what this commercial wants me to feel.
Here's what I do know.
I would have paid good money, maybe 100, maybe 200 bucks, to have been a fly on the wall when the team presented this work to the National Board of Volvo Dealers.
I'd throw in another 100 if somebody would have granted me permission to film the reaction. Trust me when I say there is nothing more entertaining than watching a bunch of advertising agency bullshitters trying to put one over on a bunch of sheet metal bullshitters.
"What the fuck is that? Are they going to a funeral? And who the fuck are these people? Why aren't we talking about the 27 airbags? The blind spot warning system? The intelligent all wheel drive? Play it again. Did I miss something? And what's with that music? Is that Bjork? I thought she was dead. Can someone tell me what the fuck is going on here?"
I've never found myself agreeing with a bunch of car dealers, who by and large have the aesthetic taste of a...er, what's the right metaphor...a car dealer.
But on this I'd have to concur.
It makes me for yearn for a simpler and, dare I say, smarter time. When we used the precious 30 seconds we were given on the national airwaves to make a point, to offer up something in the arena of persuasion, when we tried to actually sell our client's products. And not make short jack-off cinema pieces that would get booed off the stage at the Des Moines Independent Film Festival.
Little war story.
When I was at Chiat, I played a lot of pool with Jerry Gentile and Rob Feakins. We had a great pool table and we were not subjected to the ridiculous 24 hour check ins that hang above the heads of creatives like the sword of Damocles.
One time, my boss took it upon herself to chide me about my ever improving pool game.
"Shouldn't you be working on that new Nissan Altima spot?" she inquired.
Taking that as my inspiration and to prove a point about how creativity needs to flow freely, we quickly wrote a spot involving pool balls. We painted them with the same process and self-healing paint as the Nissan Altima. Then, using specially rigged motion control cameras that glided along the felt table we filmed the balls smashing into each other. The spot ended with a corny heavy-handed reference to Scratch. Get it?
Not a great spot (I can't find it anywhere on YouTube) but at least it made a point. And gave car buyers one more reason to consider an Altima.
I miss those days.
But once you turn 44 years old, there are a lot of things you start to miss.
Cue the sappy Bjork Music.