Q It Up: What was the last commercial you heard or saw that left an impression on you?

q-it-up-logo2Q It Up: Can you recall a recent commercial that left an impression on you, either good or bad, on radio or TV? Why do you think it left an impression on you? What was it about the commercial that you liked or disliked? If you disliked it, how would you have done it differently? Please add any other comments you might have.

Ryan Drean [ryandrean@gmail.com], www.ryanontheradio.com: The spot that really stood out to me and was pretty effective was the car commercial where the guy is just sitting there talking about the other car company (Hyundai) commercial which says if you lose your job you can bring the car back. He then ponders the day on which you come home and say “Hi honey, lost my job, lost my car...what’s for dinner?” It was good to me because it instantly invoked humor AND fear at the same time. Of course they also have their plan where you get to keep your car and make no payments for a while. Which helps ease the fear part and leaves me with some nice needed humor. The writing is simple so I think for this spot it was all about the idea. It was put forth at the exact right time and in the right demeanor. It was in direct conflict with a competitor, which I am usually not a fan of doing, but this really worked for me because it was such a logical point to be bringing up.

John Mangan [John.Mangan@cptc.edu], KVTI: The “Pure Michigan” tourism campaign – radio and TV. The radio spots are better than the TV because the word images are very powerful.

Andrew Frame [andrew@bafsoundworks.com], BAFSoundWorks, Lehigh Acres, Florida: Hard question to answer since we’re the biggest cynics on the planet when it comes to commercials. The first thing that comes to mind are the auto insurance spots for Progressive and Allstate, starring Stephanie Courtney and Dennis Haysbert respectively.

Progressive takes the quirky approach, and Allstate takes the lifestyle approach. While both are usually quite well done, neither makes enough impact to make us want to pick up the phone and spend any significant time with a person who speaks poor English.

The “Jared” diamond store spots are incredibly shallow and annoying, implying that a man is a schmuck if he doesn’t buy a diamond, and a double-schmuck if he “paid too much”. We really don’t need some rich white folk giving lifestyle advice while people are dying in South Africa and other pitifully-poor places to dig these things out of the ground.

One that had us both on the floor was from Heineken. At a party, the women all go into a walk-in closet loaded with shoes and dresses, and proceed to fall over themselves in idiotic bliss. Then from the other side of the house, wailing drowns them out, and we find the menfolk having the same reaction after walking in to a huge cooler full of Heineken.

We won’t drink the beer, but we’ll still watch the ad when it comes on.

Joel Moss [JMoss@webn.com], WEBN, Cincinnati, Ohio: One spot running here in Ohio, and I think produced by the Ohio Department of Transportation, not sure. This :30 second visual is among the best TV spots I’ve ever seen. Premise: driver pulls up to an intersection, stops... looks to the left, then to the right... and proceeds through the intersection at which point a motorcyclist immediately slams into the driver’s side of the car. Air bags, glass, the sound, impact sending the driver to the passenger’s side, while being restrained by belt. It’s so startling that the first time I saw it I actually sorta gasped. Totally took me by surprise.

The message: be extra cautious re: motorcycles... they move so quickly that it’s fractions of seconds that the bike will be completely out of your left side peripheral vision, then into your car. So look left, right, and then check back to the left to make sure. I normally do the ‘triple take’, but having lost two friends in the last 12 months (one of whom was an air talent on ‘EBN for 20 years, Mr. K, to motorcycle crashes), I’m thinking about that spot when I approach a four way stop.

Other than that spot, the baby spot (Grey Advertising, I think) for E-Trade is absolute gold, featuring the digital mouth animation and the voice for the toddler [I’ve since learned the voice is that of the director/writer of the spot(s)]. One thing I’ve never been able to ‘hear’ is that anamorphic thing where you assign human qualities to inanimate things...or, cartoon characters. I think it’s a unique skill. But, the youthful hip voice they’ve assigned to this baby in the E-Trade spots... really funny, clever, well produced. I’d give it a prize if I hadn’t lost all my money using E-Trade. Did you know media stocks suck right now???

As far as really funny/compelling radio: maybe the series of random game show premise spots that Netflix runs non-stop. The initial spots were funny (to me) because they were just so absurd, Monty Python-esque. Q: If pie is in the sky, where’s cake? A: A distant meadow....

Blaine Parker [bp@slowburnmarketing.com], Slow Burn Marketing: I was driving to work one morning, and heard a commercial that went something like this: “I was hiking through Katmandu when I came to a small village. I saw a building with a red triangle hanging in front, so I entered. I sat at the bar. The bartender asked me what I was seeking. I told him, ‘True enlightenment.’ So he handed me a pint of Bass Ale and the branch of a cherry blossom tree in full bloom.”

This is not the literal, verbatim transcript of the commercial. That is only what I can recollect. I only ever heard the commercial once. That was about eight years ago. But it still seems like yesterday.

It stuck with me because it was so unexpected. Understand, I am the target demo. I think Bass Ale is a fine product and am predisposed to use it. But going in, I didn’t know it was a commercial for Bass Ale. And the surprise was so extraordinary, that commercial has stuck with me for the better part of a decade -- despite hearing it only once.

I’m willing to bet they did research, and the results showed that drinkers of Bass ale considered themselves to be adventurous, offbeat and active -- fancying themselves deep thinkers and men of taste. (I doubt this would have had as much appeal to women at large.) Somewhere along the way, this piece of copy evolved.

It also incorporates a vivid and unexpected use of an image -- the single oldest registered trademark, the Bass Red Triangle.

Being sticky, surprising listeners, and saying things in unexpected yet relevant ways are all important. Using language unpredictably, crystallizing thought, and invoking distinctive imagery that “surprises Broca” (thank you, Roy) can have an extraordinary impact on the audience.

Scotty Papek [Spapek@prodgods.com], www.prodgods.com: TV spots. It’s been really interesting seeing how companies are trying to position themselves these days. Have you noticed the car companies taking hit at competitors? It’s desperate. Me personally, I don’t believe in telling people what we do. I believe in demonstrating what we do.

Here are a couple at the top of my list:

 3. Canon has a tremendous spot demonstrating their Eos camera lineup.

 2. The most interesting man in the world (Dos Equis). It cuts through, doesn’t take itself serious and screams cool.

1. And the new Palm Pre webOS -- new Sprint commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-tRHNElTo4

The concept of how a product fits into people lives always looks good on paper. It is extremely hard to execute it in a short amount of time. This particular spot moves with a little humor and incorporates everything in Sprint’s character diamond.

I was pissed that Sprint’s commercial was cooler than my stupid iPhone’s.

Mitch Todd [Mitch.Todd@siriusxm.com], Sirius XM Satellite Radio: The Budget Rent-A-Car campaign where boardroom members would brainstorm on ideas to improve service, then they would cut to the eventuality of the idea where in reality they would go horribly awry.

The “scented candles” one comes most strikingly to mind, when businessmen are driving a luxury car with aroma therapy candles, only to be lulled to sleep and veer horrifically off the road.

They were funny, relatable and most importantly, I remembered who the client was. I prefer image campaigns personally, and I felt that was effective and memorable.

Frank Scales [fscales@emfbroadcasting.com], K-Love & Air 1 Radio Networks: TV: Denny’s Grand Slam “Nannerpuss” -- debuted on Superbowl.

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