Friday, March 2, 2007

Whatever Happened To 'Funny'?

Is it me or do most of the commercials stink these days? I mean...the stuff that they're passing off as 'funny' just doesn't cut it. For example...does anybody see the humor in a talking turtle being nagged by his talking turtle wife? Or what's with the guy who can't sleep being greeted at his kitchen table by Abe Lincoln....and a BEAVER?!? Are these suppose to be his 'dreams'? What? He dreams about Abe Lincoln and a Beaver! And what's with Smiling Bob...or whatever his name is...on the erectile dysfunction spot. We get it...he takes a pill...and he gets it. I can't imagine any woman in her right mind coming within a hundred yards of this grinning simp. Is this creativity in the twenty-first century?

You know, besides working in radio for longer than I'd like to admit, I owned an ad agency and I went on a lot of pitches (for those not familiar with the term, it's when an agency goes out to visit a client or potential client and proceeds to baffle them with their b.s.). Can you imagine someone standing in front of these clients and selling them on these asinine concepts? And what's even harder to believe is that some fathead client had to agree that this would be great stuff.

Granted, TV (and in some cases radio) commercials were, for the most part, never works of creative art. If you've ever met the 'creatives' behind the productions then you know that most are anything but creative. They're more into glitz than substance. They follow trends and rarely create them. The industry is awash with no talents making six figures who have more fun playing with their computer toys then working on the actual commercial content.

And whatever happened to 'funny'. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to laugh. With the exception of a handful of Doritos and Budweiser spots that ran in the Super Bowl, has anyone seen any gut wrenching commercials recently? And speaking of those Super Bowl spots....why haven't we seen much of them since? Is there a belief in the ad business that that kind of funny really doesn't sell? What nonsense.

Like traditional radio and TV...advertising is all wrapped up in statistics. They poll and test and 'refine' until every last vestige of true creativity is squeezed from the commercial. And what's with the research? Who died and said that they had all the answers? Sometimes I think that research, in and of itself, is the scam. It baffles the no-talents in the biz who don't have the intestinal fortitude to stand by their convictions. It also gives them an excuse for their failure; something that they can point to when their work tanks. They can say, "Well boss, I don't know why that didn't tested well!"

And most agencies just want to close the deal. So they capitulate and give creative ground for the sake of the bottom line. Meaning...they may pitch a great concept but if the client doesn't get it then they toss it and go to Plan know... Abe Lincoln and the Beaver...or the duphus wearing the Sun suit eating the sausage sandwich.

Advertising can be creative and profitable but the Presidents and CEOs of these agencies have got to point their businesses in that direction. They have to take the creative lead. They're constantly telling their clients or potential clients how creative their work is, but all you have to do is watch any commercial break to see how wrong they are.

It's a BIG industry flushed with huge sums of money and people who don't want to rock the boat. So I guess the truth of the matter is that we're going to see more of Abe, the Beaver, Smiling Bob, Mr. Sun and their friends. What a shame.

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