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My father called me to complain, again. He's 82 and he's angry. "Son, I know you're in advertising and all that", he usually starts off, "but the ads I see today I wouldn't give you two cents for. They're stupid and they don't even tell you what they're selling!"
I explained it to him as best as I could. "Dad, it's OK, you're just out of the demo." "I'm out of the what?" "The demographics Dad, The key target audience for who they're trying to reach." "Well then who in the heck are they trying to reach?" He yells. "Must be boneheads cause those ads make no sense to any sane person."
Whether it's a beer commercial trying too hard to be funny, or like a recent FedEX commercial where Burt Reynolds sparred with a grizzly bear, I gotta admit that sometimes, Dad is right. I've been in the ad business for quite awhile now and know that in today's world, it takes a lot to get a business noticed. However I can't help laughing to myself when watching these ads, imagining the initial pitch to the client.
Secretary: Boss, those ad agency guys are here. Boss: What? Are they on the calendar? (disgusted) Oh all right, send them in. Young ad guy #1: Hello sir, and how are you today? Wow! That tie is whacked! Boss: It's what? Never mind. What have you got for our new ad campaign? Young ad guy #2: Oh this is so cool! Check out these story boards. Boss: (looks at the story boards puzzled, eyebrows creased in confusion). Young ad guy #1: OK there's no voice over at all! You just see a guy waking up in bed. Next, he rolls over and he realizes that he's in bed with the Burger King! Boss: He's what?? Young ad guy #2: Yeah! And then the Burger King, who's really this actor wearing the Burger King costume and a big plastic face with a frozen smile, reaches around and produces a Double Breakfast Crosandwich and hands it to the man who takes a big bite of it. Boss: (Now his eyebrows look like one unibrow as his cheeks glow red.) Young ad guy #1: Then they both share a laugh, pat each other on the back, and we fade to logo! Is that wild or what? It's going to generate huge numbers man! Boss: (Stunned then angry) I thought I told you guys to quit putting crack in the water dispenser!
See the problem facing advertisers today is the pressure to relate to the 18-34, 25-44 demos they so desperately need to reach, so they try anything they think will accomplish this and as a result, many people out of those key demos, don't get it. However, it dawned on me after my most recent birthday that sadly, I too have joined those ranks. So now when I watch an ad that even from my experienced perspective seems to make no sense at all, I just remind myself it's nothing personal. I'm just out of the demo.
Hal Eisenberg is an award winning copywriter, voice over talent and producer, as well as owner of The Eisenberg Agency, a full service advertising agency specializing in creative ads that get results. You can visit his web site http://www.eisenbergagency.com. Contact Hal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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