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Bouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.

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Simon RoughanBouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.
by on May 3, 2013 at 12:46:04 pm

Hello Everybody.
As I have stated in past, I produce TV Spots here in Germany. Often I must act as an agency as well as a producer, and because our sales department aren't exactly the most creative group of people, I thought I would bounce a few spot ideas around here, as I value the opinion of those with perhaps a bit more experience. Mark Suszko (among others) has been helpful in the past with such requests, as has Mr. Terry, who I know works in the same area. (Todd, I hope that wasn't me you were referring to in that last thread, I always try to remember to thank people for responses.)

Anyway, down to business. We have a customer who has a company that delivers Magazines to Dentists, Doctors, Accounting firms etc, anyone who has waiting rooms. They also deliver to private houses, and they want more business in this area. They also have a few bucks to spend. They haven't said exactly how much, but I can assume by the last spot that they had produced that it is not so little. The last commercial they had done, was from one of our competitors who has a Red One, but not much know-how. Therefore, nice pictures but an incomprehensible story. In the briefing, they told me they wanted something with a young couple, something memorable, and preferably funny, edgy and perhaps a little bit sexy. I always like to bring at least 3 ideas to the table, to give the customer a bit of choice of direction.

Here are the three ideas I have come up with. Whoever can be bothered, please read through and tell me what they like, and don't like, and why. All critiques and suggestions are most welcome. I have written the Ad Copy in German. Its really not so elegant when translated into english, but it goes something like "Delivery and collection in the whole region, also to you at home. "COMPANY NAME", inexpensive, convenient, and uncomplicated." Spot will be 30 seconds, with a 10 second reminder.

1. Come To Bed Honey

Woman is lying in bed, waiting for her husband to join her. she is erotically posed, and the scene reeks of passion. Man is in the living room, busy reading his magazine. She keeps calling "come to bed...are you finished yet?" etc. When he is finally finished, he comes into the bedroom expectantly to find that she has given up waiting, and is engrossed in a magazine herself, and is no longer so interested. We finish on a shot of his disappointed face.
Logo Animation, web address with ad claim.
Both are lying in bed side by side reading magazines. They look at each other, throw the magazines away and dive under the covers.

Both are lying in bed side by side reading magazines. They look at each other, throw the magazines away and dive under the covers.
Logo Animation, web address with ad claim.

2. Enter The Dragon

Man and woman sitting at the breakfast table. We hear the doorbell ringing.
XCU from both sets of eyes, as they stare intensly at each other, aka Sergio Leone.
Music changes to hectic paced jungle beat, and both jump up and storm towards the doorway. Then entails a full-on martial arts extravaganza through the door and down the hallway.
Cut to the delivery man at the door, looking worried and confused at the bangs and crashes coming from the house.
Back inside we see various fighting shots, blocked punches and kicks, smashing furniture, etc etc. An end scramble behind the door, as the woman finally gets the better of the man, and opens the door victorious. She smiles and takes the bag from the confused looking delivery man.
Logo Animation, web address with ad claim.
Both are sitting back at the table. She is reading a magazine, and has a small pile beside her. He reaches for one, and she super fast "kung-fu" style slaps his hand, and says "when Im finished..."

Both sitting at the table. She is reading a magazine, and has a small pile beside her. He reaches for one, and she super fast "kung-fu" style slaps
his hand.
Logo Animation, web address with ad claim.

3. Changing Perspectives

Man and woman sitting on couch in living room reading magazines. Background is a green screen, with the enviornment keyed in.
She opens her house and garden magazine, the background changes and they are sitting in
the middle of a beautiful manicured garden, we hear birds singing etc. He picks up a motoring magazine, and opens it up. The background changes again, and they are sitting in the middle of a motor show, with new model car on a turntable behind them. She then picks up a travel magazine, and opens it. In the backgrond, the scene changes to a street scene in paris and as she flips the page, it changes (with a page turn transition) to a desert scene.
He looks over to her, and then picks up a Playboy. In the background, we see an erotic model in langerie dancing provocatively. She looks behind, then grabs the magazine out of his hand and closes it. The background goes back to the living room scene.
Logo animation, web address with ad claim
Both sitting on the couch, shes looking at him dissaprovingly. He looks at the camera and wiggles his eyebrows while grinning.

man and woman sitting on couch in living room. He picks up the playboy again, and opens it slightly. For a second we see the erotic background again.
Once again, she grabs the magazine away from him, and scowls..
Logo Animation with ad claim.

So, what do you think? I'm sorry about such a long post...
Thanks again everyone for taking the time to help a complete stranger around the other side of the world.
Aint the internet grand?

The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Bouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.
by on May 3, 2013 at 2:27:38 pm

I liked number 2 and 3.

Number 3 will be expensive to shoot with all the various full-set backdrops, unless you scale it back to skip the green screen and just pop-in a costumed actor and one or two props for each magazine title that appears in the same original set.

Both of these spots could be entertaining, but you might want to step back for a minute and consider, more deeply, the overall strategy you're trying to execute.

To start with, your client is fighting an uphill battle: delivering and picking up hard-copy paper magazines in 2013 is anachronistic in a world of e-books and cloud-delivered content. And for people that DO still like hard-copy magazines, they already subscribe directly, so where's their incentive to switch? This sounds like a company and a service that is near the end of it's practical existence, so one of the things your spot has to sell is WHY this is NOT an outmoded idea. If you can't communicate that idea clearly in the spot, they may be entertaining, but they will fail in generating sales.

My other point on the strategy is, I don't think you should be combining the appeal to professional doctors and dentists's offices with an appeal to home consumers. These two demographics are not similar enough for any meaningful synergy. Thus, you're diluting your message by splitting the attention and the sales points you're trying to make. Do one spot specifically for waiting rooms, and a different one for the home-owner.

For a spot aimed directly at the Professional waiting room market, I would do something like this:

Patient arrives at dentist's waiting room. It is full of historical figures from several years ago, or people wearing fashions that are out of date. Any conversations the patient has or overhears sound like they've taken a trip back in time. Our voice-over narrator comes in and explains that your customers hate stale-out-of-date magazines in their waiting rooms, but you can keep your business fresh thru this special service, etc. etc.

Frankly, this spot would work better in a direct-mail campaign, or as an insert ad in trade magazines read by doctors and dentists, rather than over broadcast TV, but that's a separate discussion.

Back to the domestic home-owner campaign again: so, in your scripts, what is the overall subtext, the point to it? Remember, you're supposedly making a value proposition: you're showing why getting paper magazines is still useful, and why paying a third-party intermediary to collate and deliver/pick up these magazines is superior to direct subscriptions. As entertaining as script 2 and 3 are, they don't yet tell that story to me.

Don't fall in love with your creative imagery before you do the sales homework. Then you're warping the sales message to fit into the creative narrative you love.

Concentrate first on a SUCCINCT argument for the value proposition, then apply the creative framework to how you tell that story.

For some hints on the overall process, please look over some of our "Save This Script!" episodes, right here on the COW. They talk a bit about how this kind of strategy works. The most recent one, number 4, in particular.

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Simon RoughanRe: Bouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.
by on May 3, 2013 at 3:13:54 pm

Wow, thanks for the fast reply Mark. You're quick off the line!
Everything you've explained is true. I've already been over a lot of this with the customer. Concerning the waiting room business, that is already sewn up by this company. They want to concentrate on private homes. I also had concerns about the fact that the medium (hard copy magazines) is a dying one, but I don't imagine it's a sound strategy to tell a client that his business is on the way out ;-)
Their advantage over normal subscriptions is the price. Its much cheaper through them.
The main strategy behind the spots, is just to get the name out there, in a memorable way. I tried and tried to incorporate some way of bringing across how cost effective the service was, while keeping in line with the rest of the brief they gave me. But they don't want a sales pitch as such. I mean, what the hell does dancing babies on roller skates have to do with mineral water? Although I hate that spot, I can still recite the product name, so it's successful.
BTW, for the green screen production, I work at a TV station, and have a big studio with a saturated lighting rig at my disposal. I thought about just buying good quality stock footage for the backgrounds.
Thanks for the support and the criticism, and I will read the "Save the Script!" episodes over the weekend.

The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Bouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.
by on May 3, 2013 at 4:09:29 pm

I'm going to throw a couple of ideas at the wall to see if any of these stick...

How about a montage of scenes of the home's front door opening, the company's delivery-man is at the door just like a postman, but handing off the branded packaging to the husband and wife in each 4-to-7-frame shot, as they are dressed for different careers and activities, each radically different from the next. This will range from scuba gear to gardening and sports gear and racing suits etc. (Your major expense in this spot is all the costume changes). Voice-over narration says that thanks to the magazine company's lower costs, you can afford to keep up with dozens and dozens of magazines, to cover all your interests, for less than you ever imagined. Now, your interests are free to be explored.

Some advantages in that approach are: the delivery man is in the shot with the branding the entire time. It makes it plain that you can get a LOT of magazines with a lot of variety. You only have one location, a front door stoop.

Here's a follow-on idea that will re-cycle some of that montage footage:

Open on a rented local hall, decorated with signs that make it plain this is a local trivia tournament. A huge crowd is already in place when (dramatic music sting) A very unassuming, nerd-like man enters, and all activity ceases as every eye in the place turns to see him, reacting as if this was a wild west bar and the worst gunfighter of all has just entered. A few voices come through in recognition:
"iI's Hans...
"Hans is here!"

The trivia players all resign their tables in disgust and depart en-masse. Now you see signs in the background that Hans has won the contest a record number of times, a RIDICULOUS number of times... because:


What's his secret? What makes Hans unbeatable?

Cut to rapid montage of deliveries to his front door

the many magazines he gets each week covering all his varied interests. etc etc etc

A variation on how to shoot this is to just montage three or four instances of Hans being declared the trivia winner, victory upon victory upon victory, each time the crowd is smaller and less enthusiastic, until the fifth time he raises his trophy in victory and looks about, the room is mostly empty. Everyone has just given up because Hans is unbeatable.

...unbeatable because of the flood of knowledge he gets thru all his magazine subscriptions

In an epilog shot, a challenger appears in the backlit doorway of the hall. The challenger has a branded packet of magazines in hand from the same service.

To be continued...

You could milk this rivalry idea for several more follow-on spots, as the two mortal combatants challenge each other with obscure fact after obscure fact. Make a story arc out of it, maybe....

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Simon RoughanRe: Bouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.
by on May 6, 2013 at 8:19:30 am

Thanks Mark. I find the first idea with the many different kinds of people opening the door to the delivery man a good one. Do you mind if I develop it a bit further that it fits more with the customers brief?
The second idea with the pub quiz scenario is a bit too complex, but entertaining all the same. They don't really have pub quizzes as such here, so the concept might be a bit hard to grasp for them.
Thanks again for your input

You know I'm born to lose, and gambling is for fools, but that's the way I like it, baby. I don't want to live forever!

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Mark SuszkoRe: Bouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.
by on May 6, 2013 at 2:41:04 pm

I did not know that trivia contests were not a popular thing in Germany; I would have thought they'd be big.

Go ahead and use any of what I posted that can help you.

Here's a variation on your first spot idea:

Weekend and the couple is casually dressed for home lounging. Suggestive romantic teasing music rises in background. Scenes of the man and woman reading in separate locations of the home but giving each other somewhat suggestive and playful glances across the room over the tops of their respective magazines. They move to different rooms like the kitchen and den, etc. but the glances continue until the woman abruptly gets out of her chair and walks to the bedroom. Cut to foot of the bed, the blankets stirring, and both actors heads.upper bodies appear under the blankets, still clothed, (more or less) with magazines they are reading side-by-side under the covers.

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Bill DavisRe: Bouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.
by on May 3, 2013 at 8:51:14 pm

Back up.

You've created scripts for what appear to be BRAND RECOGNITION spots.

This type of advertising can certainly build brand awareness, but it's typically NOT designed to drive potential customers to any type of immediate profitable action.

If the client's goal is to drive subscriptions - then you MUST find a way to make THAT the central "take away" idea of any spot you air.

The ad will cost hundreds or maybe thousands. The advertising placement will likely cost 10 (or 100!) times that.

Literally, a busty model in a T-shirt with the Magazine Name and a voiceover w/super that says "50% off new subscriptions for the next 200 web visitors" is MUCH more likely to net results than anything you're doing with fancy "relationship visuals" that have little or nothing to do with the core objective of driving new subscriptions.

Define the action goal that the ads must produce FIRST - then relentlessly judge every single aspect of the ad through the lens of whether it helps - or doesn't help - achieve that action result.

To do anything else is advertising malpractice, IMO.


Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.

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Simon RoughanRe: Bouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.
by on May 3, 2013 at 11:46:12 pm

Thanks Bill, you've also given me some things to think about. For example, advertising malpractice is a new term for me. You also have a lot of good points. This is why I made this post. Time after time, I'm put into the position of having to do the work of an agency, as well as a producer. I have a BA in communication studies, but naturally I have trouble to cover all the bases. At an agency, they can have a team of people sitting together for hours on end, working through the types of points you bring up, whereas I'm expected to just pull great ideas out of my beautifully sculptured posterior.

I have had a brief already from the client, and they have given me a direction they want to go in. They really just want a brand recognition spot. In my opinion, and I have the customer so advised, that for such a service/product, a 30 second TV/cinema spot is not enough to cover the information you would need to sell the subscriptions, without being dry and boring. The spot would be sucessfull if you just sparked enough interest to get web hits, where the nitty-gritty information can be read and absorbed at leisure.
A real person does the selling. In most cicumstances, a short TV ad can do nothing more than make someone aware that the product/service exists. Thats my opinion about TV advertising, anyway. Have you honestly ever in your life taken note of a telephone number from a TV ad, and made a call?
Thanks again for taking the time to reply,

You know I'm born to lose, and gambling is for fools, but that's the way I like it, baby. I don't want to live forever!

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Greg BallRe: Bouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.
by on May 3, 2013 at 9:59:52 pm

I like the first spot best, but instead of them diving under the covers at the end to suggest that they are about to get it on, they slide out of the bottom of the covers with more magazines in hand.

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Simon RoughanRe: Bouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.
by on May 6, 2013 at 8:14:00 am

Thanks for the feedback. Originally I had it ending with the couple just reading, but then I thought perhaps it gives the impression that too many magazines in the house ruins your sex life!

You know I'm born to lose, and gambling is for fools, but that's the way I like it, baby. I don't want to live forever!

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Tom SeftonRe: Bouncing Ideas Off Experienced Heads.
by on May 6, 2013 at 3:32:20 pm

Shots of different aged couples sat at home reading. Suggestive looks, eye flirting, rubbing of feet. They are reading GQ/Cosmo/sexy/fashion styled magazines with sex tips on front cover.

Woman suggests bed. Both agree.

She walks out followed by husband. Cue kissing.

Magazines are dropped onto sofas with quick cuts between different backgrounds. Each magazine flops open to reveal your clients magazine hidden inside?

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