Who in their right mind would shoot this?
Often we need to forget about profit and teach a client that something just isn't right about what they want to do.
What would you do if a client came to you with a request to produce this commercial?
Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
Who in their right mind? Hopefully, not me. But if I were faced with the (possible) following from a client, who knows?
"Look, it'll be fine, it's a great idea, shoot it or I'll take my business to somebody who will."
"You're getting paid anyway, now just shoot it."
"We're shooting a dozen of these today, I'll look at it when we're done and probably we won't use it"
and the winner for me is ... "If the television station doesn't like it they'll say so and we'll use something else."
There is no "way to peace." Peace is the way.
I would give them all of the reasons why this is a horrible idea, and let them know that I care about their business.
I consider myself a strategic partner with my clients, not just a video company. That being said, I would tell them that this is in extremely poor taste, and I would think long before committing to creating this spot. Sometimes it's not all about the money.
Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
Not defending it per se, but just making the observation that there are local companies who make bad-taste commercials the foundation of their brand.
Used car dealers are the obvious examples, but I have in fact known a number of furniture stores to do the same along the way. Seinfeld did a whole episode about this kind of thing -- the King? What was he king of? I forget....
There were a couple of realtors in South Florida in the early 90s, when I was also doing real estate video. They were a pair of little people/dwarf twins -- my apologies for any archaically offensive language there, not at all intended -- but man oh man, they completely embraced it. One indelible image was one of them describing roomy drawers in the kitchen, sliding one open -- and there was his brother asleep inside it, wearing an old fashioned sleeping cap and gown. "Hey, I'm sleeping in here!" The other one turned toward the camera, deadpanned Jack Benny style, and slid the drawer closed, as if to say, "See what I have to put up with?" This went on for 30 minutes a week. You better believe that people remembered it. Keyes Real Estate. I'm never going to forget, I guarantee.
Obviously not the same thing as having twin towers of mattresses falling over, but it's 20 years after those brothers, building on Beavis & Buttthead, Howard Stern, the whole Sunday night line-up for Fox cartoons, Jackass, the Comedy Central roasts, on and on -- intentional offensiveness is the order of the day. This isn't in the top 10 worst things I've seen or heard this week. Probably not in the top 20.
I guarantee that they showed this to a lot of people who laughed as hard as they did when they were making it, and that there are plenty of folks laughing even harder at the outrage over it than they are over the commercial.
All of which begs your original question of course. ARE people who intentionally aim for bad taste and offensiveness in their right mind?
And not to suggest that you're wrong to be appalled by the tastelessness. I'm just saying that they knew it was tasteless, they knew that people were going to be horrified, and they went for it wholeheartedly.
I'm also thinking of the 60s and 70s when people made movies, songs, etc. HOPING to be banned, to get the free publicity. We've just now moved to the point where people can reasonably expect to have it both ways -- an endless cycle of outrage and mockery, leading to a pile of publicity that they could never have paid for in their wildest dreams. They're gonna be laughing all the way to the bank.
I hope it doesn't sound like I'm happy about this. I'm just not surprised, either.
Update: the backlash in viewership was so severe, the mattress company has closed and gone out of business.
I would not have done this spot: like Greg, we have almost a fiduciary responsibility to protect our client from stepping on their own... whatever. A former boss came to me and asked me to edit a highway safety spot using footage of a pretty graphic real car accident with fatality: chopper aerials of a driver thrown out of a tumbling car sans seat belt, the car then rolling over him, squish. I said I didn't think a station would let this pass review, but I wasn't going to be the enabler that tested that theory. Boss shrugged and re-assigned it to another guy, outside our office, who dutifully cut it. I don't know that it aired, but I was willing to be fired over that, had it come down to it. Though I was pretty sure the union would have had my back.
Somebody out there is always willing to stoop to do these things. But you know, for the life of me, I can never remember them being proud enough to put it in their reel or submit it to a contest. They don't, AFAIK, get great promotions out of doing this dirty work either. So you gotta wonder: is it worth the damage to your brand, your professional reputation, to do stuff like this? I can only think of one genre' where such editors can end up and still find work afterwards.
[Mark Suszko] "Update: the backlash in viewership was so severe, the mattress company has closed and gone out of business."
Nope. They plan to reopen in the coming week with new employees. The owner claims the ad was run without him seeing it, and he's fired those involved. The website is still online with no mention of any of this.
As I suspected originally, this is a store known for outrageous ads. I'd encourage you to check their Facebook page for examples, except that there's enough pretty foul stuff to not really make it worth your while. There are HOWLS of protest from Facebook commenters going back a very long way, for offenses of a pretty remarkable variety, including some suggestions that the NBA should be suing them. I don't even want to know why.
And as I also suspected, there are a lot of comments telling those offended to get over it, it was a joke, blah blah blah.
Without meaning to sound all "What is this world coming to?", this is lamentable in every direction, but ultimately far LESS offensive than almost anything I've seen on the news in the past few weeks, and almost redeemed by its self-knowledge of its own ridiculousness.
In fact, their whole approach is ineptitude that's supposed to be endearing, and in some ways almost is (as commenters note on other less offensive ads), but there's really not much to be done with local, family-owned businesses bent on commoditizing bad ads other than not doing them.