Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Amateur Hour Again

We at The Grey Lodge recently agreed to do a very high profile ad. I'm not spilling the details yet, but I'll say it's somewhere I never, ever expected to be able to advertise in. This is major league stuff for us.

Usually when a small company contracts to do an ad, the media company's art department helps with the creation of the ad. They have the in-house expertise that most small companies don't. The Grey Lodge, like many companies, started off very bare bones. I was president, janitor, and most jobs in between. I don't clean the bathrooms anymore, and am getting used to delegating things. We've been doing small print ads for years now. Sometimes I submit an ad ready to go. Sometimes it's a back and forth. I give clear direction and they do good work. This being big league stuff, I felt I should go with the professionals.

So I sent their art department some (mixed-case) text with our basic messages and some photos I had been working on for release 2010 of I sent the text with caveat that while those were what we mostly had to say, it probably should be pared down for the ad. I offered to do a first version for them to clean up professionally. They said what I sent already would be sufficient. What they sent back was this:

I was having a rare bad morning last Friday and was in a mood when I got the email. I'm no advertising expert, but like all people today, I have been exposed to advertising since I was born. Thinking people from their lifelong experience know what advertising impacts them and what doesn't. I'll be blunt and say that ad is shit.
  • The green logo on a green background, WTF?
  • All capital letters? It's ugly, and while technically readable is so jumbled, nobody would want to bother to read it. Nobody has to read your ad, you need to make it appealing so they want to. We are so overexposed to advertising, we ignore as much of it as possible. That text is definitely stuff I would ignore. Even if it interested me, it looks like a chore to read.
  • It's not even clear who the ad is for, "Grey Lodge" only being in the logo.
  • The largest thing is the phone number. We're a bar and restaurant; we don't really want people to telephone us. We don't have operators standing by, we have bartenders who are hopefully busy with actual paying in-person customers. We do however want people to go to our Website, which packed with info, and which people can look over at their leisure. Of all the things they choose to highlight, they pick our phone number?
After seeing what "the professionals" thought was acceptable, I decided to do it myself. I kept their layout, which looks good, but I expect is probably boilerplate for them. Below is my version. I spent about 8 hours on it, using only basic software tools. With more professional tools and experience, I could have done it much faster.

I was given some great ideas from friends. For the most part, they and I were on the same page. There are many good ideas that I couldn't use. I believe strongly that with ads, less is more. I think this ad finds a balance between less and more.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Where I Add the Conan/Leno Chatter

It's not like this hasn't been talked about enough already, but my perspective as a 40something man who is mildly successful in his profession I think gives me something to add. Though you will be the judge of that. And it's the Internet, a few more words, more or less, won't make a dent in it. At least I hope not; if I broke the Internets, I'd never hear the end of it.

Jay Leno seems like a very nice, likable guy. A bit bland but nice enough for those who like that sort of thing. From the beginning my thoughts as a middle-aged guy were "man, Jay is being a dick". The video below shows he's also something of a pussy. Jimmy Kimmel really rips him several new ones and in Leno's own house! Though to be honest, I don't know what a better response to Jimmy Kimmel other than just sucking it up would have been. I really don't. I do know a wiser person wouldn't have been in that situation to begin with.

So NBC promises the Tonight Show to Conan O'Brien 6 years ago and time came to keep the promise. Instead of going out with a bang, going out on top, Jay decides he wants to stick around, so NBC gives him all 5 weeknights at 10pm to do a show that is sort of exactly like the Tonight Show. NBC did it out of greed, noting that the Jay Leno Show, while paying Jay very handsomely, is much cheaper to produce than 5 hours of dramas a week. Leno seemingly didn't do it out of greed. He is famous for saying that he has never spent any of his hundreds of millions of Tonight Show dollars. He still performs regularly and lives very large off that. A five night a week prime time Jay Leno Show was a screwing to Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show, which now had to compete with the Jay Leno Show for guests and viewers.

NBC didn't really care that Jay Leno Show wasn't all that successful. It was still more profitable for them than 5 nights of dramas. However their affiliates which make most of their money from the 11 o'clock news were very unhappy about the loss of lead-in viewers, and many of them threatened to show other programming. So NBC had to react. They tried to eat their cake and still have it, giving Conan little bit of a shit sandwich, though a shit sandwich that still came with a $20 million a year salary. Conan responded perfectly. He's the cool guy, smart and funny, while Leno is a failure and sort of a dick and now, thanks to Jimmy Kimmel, a pussy too.

What Jay Should Have Done
In hindsight, the best move would have been to go out on the Tonight Show with a huge bang, like when Johnny retired. Jay could still do his constant performing for senior citizens; I guess he tours old age homes, I don't know. His Tonight Show swan song should have been a giant must-see month-long event, going out on top, like a beloved champion.

At the time, the 10pm week-long show seemed like a worthy gamble for Leno. It was an interesting response to a now very different environment for network television. Of course if you are going from 5 nights a week at 11:30 to 5 nights a week at 10pm, it's not really much of a transition, not worthy of a huge bang. Maybe his leaving the Tonight Show was a big deal; I don't know. Leno bores me so I didn't pay much attention to it - I might be middle-aged but I'm not a senior citizen yet.

But hindsight isn't fair to judge by, though we can fairly judge the here and now. What Leno should have done when NBC pulled the plug on the Jay Leno Show was to go away gracefully - make some jokes at his own expense and then go home and jump around in his money. He had a good long run. He had nothing left to prove, let it go. He missed the opportunity to go out on top, but he could still retire with grace and class.

Now he just seems like a dick (and a failure and a pussy). Jeez man, you got the rest of your life, do something new. It's better to go out with them wanting more than to overstay your welcome. I'll shut up now.