Writing in Color

By Ric Gonzalez

Let me first say that I drive a Toyota. Camry’s are dependable stylish and roomy. They have power windows, power locks, power seating adjustments and all the stuff other pricier luxury cars have. And I’ll also tell you that I like Miller Lite. Occasionally I’ll have an Irish beer like Harps or maybe a Rolling Rock. But most always I order a Miller Lite.

That said, I was getting dressed one Saturday morning and the TV was on in the background. I don’t even remember what station it was on. But then I heard a pleasant sounding voice-over. It went something like this, “Behind them…a snippy maître d’ and a wilting Caesar salad.” He pauses for a bit and I hear silence and maybe some light background music. I stopped shaving and stepped back to look at the screen. There sat a pleasant and attractive looking couple in a car. They looked 40-ish. She’s looking out her window and smiling. He’s driving and also smiling. It is a pleasant scene in a quite smooth riding and stylish vehicle. They’ve obviously just come back from dinner. There is a quick pan to the interior of the vehicle. Then the announcer returns and says something to the effect of, “ahead of them a… (scene changes to a dog chasing a cat in a nice home and a lamp falling). The scene changes back to the couple in their quite pleasant drive oblivious to the fact that their pets are having a territorial dispute. The announcer comes back with something to this effect, “But right now all that matters is the drive….”

Now. I’ve only seen this ad once. This is why I can’t quote it completely. But I can say that for the first time, I desired something other than my Toyota. It implied quite simply that my drive could be my pleasant escape. It reminded me of younger days, when just cruising with my girl in my fresh clean car was a great part of the evening.

When was the last time you and your spouse went out to dinner and enjoyed the drive as a pleasurable part of the night? The ad worked. I wanted that car. I wanted to enjoy my drive like that. Oh and the name of the maker and vehicle came on screen in the last five seconds of this 30 second ad.

Later that same day, I’m walking past the living room and heading for the kitchen. With my peripheral vision, I saw a commercial airliner in the middle of my TV screen and a big blue sky. Maybe it was the sound of the surf or perhaps our 911 sensitivity to seeing commercial airliners on TV that caught my attention. But I stopped. Then I heard a pilot speaking. “Attention passengers we are now cruising at 1000 feet above sea level…” The camera pans back and you see the back of a man and woman sitting on some chairs at a beach. They too are watching the airliner in the distance. The pilot continues, “We will begin serving beverages…now…” You finally see that it was not the pilot of the airliner speaking. The man had cupped his hand over his mouth to simulate the sound of a pilot. He reaches for a bottle (label not facing the viewer) and hands it to the giggling lady in the chair besides him. Then you see the label. Corona.

Man I loved that ad. I wanted to be THERE! That’s what I should be doing this weekend! The ad told me, that when I’m relaxing — really relaxing and unwinding — I need a Corona. And consider this. For the first 20 plus seconds you don’t know it is a Corona ad.

A few days later, I was sitting on the deck of Baby Acapulco, a popular hangout here in Austin, waiting for a buddy. The young lady came to take my order. I ordered some chips and their green salsa sauce. (Good stuff but you have to ask for the green sauce!) Realizing my friend was running late I went ahead and ordered a Miller Lite. I sat there under the umbrella enjoying the relaxing and leisurely Austin environment.

Then I turned around and called the young lady back. “On second thought…make that a Corona,” I told her. I had just gotten out of work. I wanted to relax damn it.

I chuckled to myself as I thought about what made me order that Corona. It was that :30 TV ad. Then I wondered how that ad might have been written by some radio station. Let’s see, at the average station, the spot might start with, “Next time you need to relax, try it with the cool crisp refreshing taste of a Corona,” or something like that. Notice how the clients name is said right away? The rep and the client like this. But does it make you want a Corona? No. That car commercial and the Corona commercial on TV used the majority of the front of the spot to pull me in emotionally; then they told me who they were.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever say the client’s name right away or that you should wait until the last few seconds of the spot. I’m just saying it isn’t always necessary to do it so quickly. I believe sometimes radio can be more visual than TV. It’s just that our words are too often “black and white.” We write in black and white because sometimes it is all the client or salesperson understands. Whenever the opportunity arises, when the client and the rep are open to creativity, we should try writing in color. Grab the listener’s emotions first, then sell them the product that will make them “feel” better.

So I raise a Corona to you my fellow creatives and make a toast. “Here’s to writing in color and to making them want to know who it is…before we tell them.”

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