20 December 2011

A Child's Christmas in Ad-Land

The job of ads is to embed itself in your psyche (a Media Buyer told me a broadcast ad isn't really absorbed 'til you've been exposed to it 22 times.)  And once there, so often they remain, undisturbed until one day, by chance, they're awakened and revived.  Perhaps by some Ad writer in a blog. 

Here are a few Christmas ads, retrieved as much from my cranial storage locker as from YouTube.  Like so many others- maybe even you- I can sing along, and recite the script word-for-word, some four decades later.

Pop-O-Matic Trouble  *Sigh*  To return to a simpler day when the suffix "O-Matic" carried enough heft to win consumer buy-in.  Washed out colour and a yucky audio track won't encumber the rush of memories lashed to this spot.  If you know it, I'll give six-two-and-even you know it verbatim.

LITE BRITE  I wouldn't have bought the '45, but again, I remember every note, and every word.  As, I'm sure, do all my former Grade 4 classmates of Pleasantville Public School.  Bonus points for working "outa sight!" into the lyrics, man.

HOT WHEELS  I cannot tell a lie;  I don't remember any Hot Wheels ads. (Hmmm.  And they don't seem to have had a jingle, like other spots cited here.  Interesting.)  But I know this:  in my world, your status was tied directly to your Hot Wheels car collection.  (As a member of the Hot Wheels club, I was issued a collector's edition Boss Hoss Silver Special, thank you for asking.)

ACTION JACKSON   Wasn't my brand.  But again, the jingle is Krazy-Glued to the floor of my cranial attic.  My guy was busy making life safe for democracy... on the Moon:

Major Matt Mason  With a jet pack operated with strings that became instantly tangled.  And rubber arms and legs kept in shape by a subcutaneous wire which, like a subcutaneous clothes hanger, would eventually snap when bent back and forth too many times, causing the limb to stick out permanently in some strange direction. (One day, when I reach my own personal expiry date, and a team is sorting through the goods in my rambling estate, tossing to the furnace items too small, even for Kijiji, one will pause to reflect upon a Major Matt Mason action figure with a wonky arm- my own personal Rosebud- before dispatching it into the flames.)

These vintage ads, revived on YouTube, are to the TV generation what the coveted pages of the old Eaton's catalogue were to generations past. 

11 December 2011

The Age of Persuasion... is over.

Today marks a fond farewell to the five-year run of The Age of Persuasion on CBC Radio.  In more than 100 half-hour documentaries, AOP explored the countless ways marketing and advertising have infused themselves in every aspect of 21st Century life.

I should stress that it was not CBC's decision to conclude the series.

It was time.

The Age of Persuasion struck a resonant chord:  more than a half million listeners tuned in each week to CBC, and to WBEZ Chicago, who picked up the series in 2011.  That's a larger audience than that which tunes into Peter Mansbridge on The National.  (Pardon the momentary outburst of hubris.)

It prompted a bestselling book of the same name, published in Canada, the U.S., and soon, worldwide in a Chinese-language version.

The series was designed to celebrate great marketing (which, at best, is artful relationship-building), and to condemn bad marketing (which constitutes an embarrassing majority of today's marketing messages). It challenged listeners to abandon the old "us" and "them" mentality about consumers and advertisers, for we are all, in the end, practitioners of persuasion.

From ashes to ashes, beautiful things always grow in their place.

For the moment, won't you join me in a fond tip of the glass to The Age of Persuasion.

The idea that became a brand unto itself.  

05 December 2011

The Persuasive Power of Reacting

Have a boo at this wonderful TV spot for Kohler.  Then meet me below, and we'll talk.

First, let's scratch the 'who is that guy?' itch.  The fellow playing the architect is veteran character actor Wolf Kahler, perhaps best remembered for having his face melt in the climax of Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark.  

That out of the way:  what a spectacular way to sell faucets.  Casting Mr. Kahler to play a credible, world-renowned architect, and the beauty shots of the architect's breathtaking workspace, give the premise a credibility.  It's easy to believe this is a place of upscale art.

Then, the switcheroo.  The woman reveals that she wants a house built around her swank Kohler tap.  Not ha-ha funny, but rather, lightly audacious.  

But that's the buildup.  Everything- and I mean everything- about this spot hinges on one moment:  the architect's reaction to the woman's request. 

Has it shown the architect buying in-  instantly worshipping the faucet- it would've been over-the-top.  Had the architect's jaw dropped and eyes bugged out, signalling that the idea is absurd, it would take on a vaudevillian feel.  Either fate would cause the floor to open, and the idea to drop into the shark-infested pond where almost-good ads meet their maker.  Or at least their maker's maker.

Instead, the architect's reaction is non committal.  In other words, the very reaction an architect would given when presented with a viable challenge.  In the silence you can hear the tumblers clicking between his ears.  "Design a house around a faucet? Hmmmm."

At some unspoken level, it suggests that Kohler faucets belong in a conversation about upscale design.

A fine bit of brushed-nickel branding, this.