Local Advertising 101

Imagine for a minute that you’re taking the car in for a brake job. Would you stand in the service bay and tell the mechanic how to do the work?  Alright, an electrician comes to the house. You go in the basement while he’s rewiring the circuit breakers and give him some pointers, right? Ok, how about this: you go out to dinner and join the chef in the kitchen and explain how to cook your meal.

No. Not unless you want him to spit in it while you’re not looking.

You would never do any of those things —so why is it that clients have no problem telling experienced producers and writers how to create advertising?

Most local TV spots are bad because the customers think they know more than the professionals who are there to help them. Then, once the Larry Tate Effect kicks in, what you get is some very bad advertising.

You know the spots. There are big sweeping pans of the store/restaurant/office, shots showing the front of the building or the sign, and people shaking hands (car dealers, insurance, real estate). Worst of all they are cluttered with too many ideas.

Don’t blame the people at the TV stations. All they usually get for being honest with a client is yelled at by some account executive or manager. They don’t make enough money to put up with that.

So here’s some advertising advice: if you hire someone to make a commercial, explain to them what makes your business special, accept that the spot should only be about one thing, and get out of the way.

I promise that you’ll get something more effective.

6 thoughts on “Local Advertising 101

  1. On the other side of the equation, I’ve worked with very talented, award winning creative directors who see the clients brand as an impediment to their beautiful advertising.

    I am specifically thinking of one example where they made the clients logo laughably small, lest it junk up the ad.

    The client had to hem and haw and put up with a lot of guff to increase the logo size by maybe 10% – and honestly it was still small.

    Sometimes it is less about creating advertising and more about displays of who has the power in the client-agency relationship.

  2. Oh, absolutely.

    Some ad agencies are arrogant beyond belief —and their beautiful work is often as bad as the cheapest local commercial.

  3. > The client had to hem and haw and put up with
    > a lot of guff to increase the logo size by maybe
    > 10% – and honestly it was still small.

    I’m no fan of creative arrogance either, especially the sneering variety.

    But try this. Many orgs have an unhealthy logo fetish. Almost all of the timeless classics are no more than the company or product name presented in a distinctive way. I mean, the goal is a durable mnemonic, a subconscious bookmark in prospects’ and customers’ brains. What could be more effective than your freakin’ name?

    Yet the typical logo is a vain, coded graphical statement of “vision” or “mission” or “mood” or some other nonsense, with weak lines and weaker colors, that’s highly recognizable to insiders but totally ignored by prospects.

    So it’s possible that the annoying ad-kid who insists on minimizing your superhero talisman is actually onto something, but lacks the social skills to tell you what you need to hear: “Your logo isn’t doing any work for you, and you’re too proud of it. We should absolutely display it in your ad, for continuity and to make sure we don’t needlessly sacrifice any good will that _some_ prospects _might_ attach to it, but we need to make sure this piece gets your message out clearly. Believe it or not, at this point in the development of your market presence, the logo carries very little signal and in fact generates noise. So we should treat it like the ornament it is, and get on with the straightforward business of selling you and your product.”


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