Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

02 February 2010

TV Commercials - The Good and Bad and the Really Great

As you know, I am fascinated by television, especially the commercials. Most of them are crap, of course, but when they're done well, they are awe-inspiring.

I honestly don't watch a lot of tv. When I do there are many things that catch my attention, both good and bad. And oh, there is plenty of bad! The current series of AT&T "3G coverage" commercials are dreadful. The guy they have in them is extremely annoying. Kit-Kat's new spot is just god-awful - the one where they bite, crunch and break the candy bar to the beat of their legacy, "Give me a break" jingle. Ugh.

Back in October, I lambasted Mass Mutual Insurance for their unoriginal, uninspired, and unimaginative overuse of Donovan's "Catch The Wind" song, which had already been used more effectively in two other commercials. We needn't rehash that mess.

On the other hand, there are some really good commercials. Target stores always has unique and innovative commercials. This past Christmas, they ran one for their electronics department. A father is trying to hook up a video camera to their big screen tv, which he has crouched down behind. His three sons are in the room, and one of them has the video camera zoomed in on the father's butt, which is displayed larger-than-life on the tv. The father keeps asking if they see anything, and the boys say no. Check out the kid on the couch with his face buried in the pillow. Even the mom is in on the fun. A wonderful, hilarious 15-second spot!

Speaking of good commercials, one of the best ones I've seen is for Travelers Insurance. Bear in mind, Travelers' logo has always been a red umbrella. Knowing this, the commerical makes more sense.

The 60-second spot is amazing. We see random scenes (mostly outdoor) on a beautifully clear day. They're almost still-life shots - there's hardly any movement within them. However, the camera pans slowly and continuously, never stopping, giving the spot a laid-back, slow-motion feel. As they cut from shot to shot, we start to see a bunch of floating red umbrellas - gradually at first, but they increase in number. Music is playing, a mid-tempo, pretty, piano and guitar thing. A male singer begins...

If you got worries
Then you're like me
Don't worry now
I won't hurt you...

The umbrellas settle onto various objects: the sorts of things that Travelers covers.

Finally, 47 seconds into the spot...almost at the very end!...the sponsor's voiceover begins. Very quietly, the appropriately deep-voiced announcer says, "When it comes to protecting the things you care about, leave nothing to chance. Travelers. Insurance for auto, home and business."

See for yourself.

The song is called "Worries" by a 29 year-old folk singer by the name of Sean Scolnick who calls himself Langhorne Slim. Letting them use his song for this commercial may possibly be the best thing Scolnick could ever do for his career.

I've watched this commercial over and over. Maybe it's not quite as good as the one for the VW Cabriolet I'm so fond of, but to me, the Travelers spot is just outstanding: simple, effective, memorable - a great combination of images and sound to get their message across without beating you over the head with it. Kudos to Travelers (and their ad agency) for putting the effort into making such a wonderful commercial.

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