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An ad without a home

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Barrett PhillipsAn ad without a home
by on Apr 1, 2009 at 6:49:28 am

Hi All,

Just like to introduce myself real quick - my name's Barrett and I've been a video/graphic design freelancer for a couple years and recently wanted to see how I could do creating a commercial without first being restricted with a concept. I decided to make a local or regional-type car ad with a pretty generic message (and a space for a logo and possible voiceover) in an effort not to restrict my potential client-base. I am aware that most local dealers tend to like the shouty ads so I knew it wouldn't be the easiest sell, but that's also part of the reason I chose their market, since I figured it might be a contrast of style that someone, somewhere might appreciate, even though it obviously isn't perfect. I drove around to a few dealerships to try and talk to people face to face but either found it difficult to get to chat with the ones in charge, or just being told the message didn't fit with their current marketing scheme (which was fair enough). Over the phone, I found most people I talked to generally didn't take me seriously (wouldn't bother checking the link) or I again couldn't get a hold of the person in charge.

Anyway to get to the point, I just thought I'd show the commercial to you guys in hopes that you might have some ideas for what I could do to get it into the right hands, if of course it's worthy of said hands ;-)

Heck, if anybody found it a home I'd be more than happy to offer a generous affiliate commission percentage were that situation to come about.

Here is the link to "Credit Detector":

On the tech side, the raw cut is in 1080P, exactly 30 seconds, all the logos have been removed and the music is original.

Hope you all like it, and thanks in advance!

-Barrett Phillips

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Mark SuszkoRe: An ad without a home
by on Apr 1, 2009 at 1:50:46 pm

Actors were okay. Shot looks nice. I see a couple of problems.
If you're going to set up the negative argument against rival dealers, you haev to have a positive alternative that's at least as strong, and a quick cutaway to graphics and narration may not be enough.

You're fighting uphill with a generic spot; effective spots are custom jobs that are narrowly targeted, so this comes off to the dealers you've pitched to as a backwards way to do the process.

Local car spots have these commandments:
-must be dirt cheap
-show lots of cars
-must be cheap
-say the name as many times as you can
-show more cars
-make it cheaply
-more name and logo
-did we mention the name enough?

Dealers generally are very impatient with anything "high concept" or dramatic. over and over again, what they pay for is meat and potatoes, "show the cars, say the name, repeat". The main variation is for the owner to dress up in stupid themed clothing and make a bad pun tied to some topical event or time of year.

Your main exception would be high-end luxury dealers, these will go for a slightly softer sell and want a high-end, polished look. But still thye don't go in much for skits and bits.

I think what you have in the demo would make better traction as part of an ad for credit unions and local banks and S&L's hawking car loans. You might consider a re-write to better fit that market.

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Mike CohenRe: An ad without a home
by on Apr 1, 2009 at 2:04:20 pm

One of my college internships was at a local Cable advertising office. When purchasing ad time on the local cable system, dealers got $250 worth of video production, which is basically nothing. They sent us donuts provided by the car manufacturers, so the 10 second hole was filled with a pan of the car lot and the name and address of the dealer with some VO. That is what they wanted, probably still is.

I have seen the odd higher end local car spot, but they are somewhere between the corporate donut and a Monster Trucks commercial (lots of shouting).

Our local Ford dealership in Waterbury CT for years had their own homegrown commercials featuring the cute kids of the owner saying cutesy things. I'll bet those got a lot of customers onto the lot. Now those cute kids are probably in college and will one day work for their dad and buy cheaply made car commercials.

From what I've read, dealers are dying in droves, and they make very little money on the cars they sell, so paying for a spiffy car commercial is a long shot.

Your ad is nice, but looks like a Free Credit commercial, but without the singing pirate! Hate those commercials by the way, but I bet who ever is making them is making out, because the website does not actually offer anything for free, it is just a tease.

Good luck.


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Todd TerryRe: An ad without a home
by on Apr 1, 2009 at 2:31:38 pm

Decent spot. Looks good. BUT....

Marks observations are all correct....

I'll made a couple of additions....

Not to quash creativity or rain on anyone's parade, but this is going to be a VERY hard sell to car dealers for a number of reasons. We do tons of automotive, so we have a little bit of experience to go on here....

1) It's not what most dealers want. Most simply want to scream louder than the other guys. Doesn't make it good, doesn't make it right, but that's what most want. Like Mark said, the exceptions are high-end dealers. We actually do do some non-screamer spots (black and white, beauty shots, classical music) for Landrover, Jag, and BMW dealers, but they are exceptions (and high-end dealers are not likely to want "no credit check" type spots). Car dealers want in-your-face buy-this-at-this-price spots.

2) You are likely approaching the wrong people. We've dealt with dozens of automobile dealers, and invariably no matter if they are a huge dealership or just a small mom-and-pop, at least in our experience they all use advertising agencies. When we do automotive work, it is always for an agency, never for the dealer itself. So, you can talk to the dealership until you are blue in the face, but it's their agency that you really need to be talking to.

3) Dealerships aren't prone to wanting to do "image" spots. They almost always want a "price/product" spot with a specific offer in them. We've done some image spots, but they are defnitely in the small minority.

4) They won't pay for it. Car dealers are notoriously cheap when it comes to paying for advertising production. They live and die by co-op spots.... that is, they only pay a portion of the air time and production, and their manufacturers (be it GM, Chrysler, Lexus, whomever) picks up the rest of the tab. There are VERY strict regulations and restrictions as to what makes a spot "co-opable," and this one is simply not going to be... and couldn't be made so.

Again, good effort, but I think this particular one is going to be a hard sell. Like Mark said, I think you are approaching the wrong type of client, because automotive is such an unusual beast.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Mark SuszkoRe: An ad without a home
by on Apr 1, 2009 at 4:26:49 pm

Do try to pitch it to a bank or credit union though. They don't advertise as often, but car loans thru them might be a good fit for the skeleton of this spot you have here. Making the car dealers look skuzzy plus making the bank look warm and fuzzy could play well with that client, especially in the current economy when they need to get scared people to start buying big expensive things again.

Your angle is that wherever yo go for the car, get your loan from xyz credit union, with better terms and better service "so you can drive the hard bargain".

(send your commission check to me via Ron Lindeboom)

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Barrett PhillipsRe: An ad without a home
by on Apr 3, 2009 at 1:03:33 am

Thanks Mark, Mike and Todd for the feedback!

And great idea on the bank/credit union angle, I'll be sure to let you know if I can get hits. I guess I just had misconceptions about the local auto dealer industry - there were some great ads done around here about a year ago (Johnson Automotive Badger ads if you're curious; they're on youtube I think) but it turns out they were done by the Martin agency who do lots of national spots at least in the US like the Geico ones, so I'm sure it was a very special scenario.

Just out of curiosity, are there any industries that you have found who have a tendency to lend themselves to a lot of creativity in their ads (I guess the reverse of car dealers) or are they all just dependent on who specifically you're dealing with? I'd like to be able to do some ads to try and take advantage of the fact that my overhead is going to be far lower than the typical crew and can afford to charge less, but I'm just not sure really who I should target in further pursuits (speaking of industry and also if I should go for local, regional, or national ads).

Anyway thanks again for the help guys, I really appreciate it!
Take care,

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Todd TerryRe: An ad without a home
by on Apr 3, 2009 at 3:08:15 pm

Hard to say, Barrett... it just depends on the market, and the individual clients.

Sadly, MOST clients tend to shun anything too "out there." I often watch great national spots that really went out on a limb, and wonder "Just how did that sell that crazy idea?" Crazy meaning great, just outside the norm.

Now and then though you'll find ones that let you stretch your brain. And sometimes they are unexpected. Strangely enough, our client that allows us the most creativity is a credit union. They are a gigantic and frankly kind of stuffy financial institution, but their marketing department lets us do almost anything we please.

Couple of examples... they wanted some spots to run specifically during some of the baaaad nighttime soaps that were briefly on the CW network, and to appeal to younger people. So we came up with these purposely-bad-acting fake movie trailers, with the late great Don LaFontaine...

We also did a campaign for them where each spot had cartoony hand-drawn and rotoscoped elements.

But they are not the norm... almost all of our other banking clients (and we have several) are very stuffy and traditional.

So... to take the long way around answering your question, there really is no good answer. You just have to beat the bushes until you find a client that lets you have a little fun.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Brendan CootsRe: An ad without a home
by on Apr 4, 2009 at 3:40:23 am

"Just out of curiosity, are there any industries that you have found who have a tendency to lend themselves to a lot of creativity in their ads?"

When you find that industry, let me know...

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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