The Commercial of Destiny

In my life, I have written a lot of different things–jokes, movie scripts, video presentation scripts, newspaper columns, blogs–but if you were to break down my existence into what I wrote the most these days, it would probably be commercials.

It’s a passion and while a lot of copywriters (one of my many hats) can slip into a mode and start writing the same thing, just with a different sponsor inserted, my “that was great but what are you going to do now?” radio training keeps me always looking for that next thing.

Truthfully, sometimes a new thing is just a tweaked version of an old thing.  But when you’ve been around this long, you have a lot of different things running through your head.  You just reach into the back, try to find something that hasn’t been used for a while and bring it out.

It’s not easy when you’re asked to write something really, fresh, creative and, oh, “I need it in an hour” but again, I defer to my radio training.  Having an account exec come in and say “I need a spot, written, produced, approved by the client and on the air in half an hour” wasn’t that unusual.

So, the other day, Car Toys decided they wanted to try and boost sales over the weekend. They would offer additional discounts, even on TOP of prices that were already on sale.  OK, on the surface, that’s a pretty big limited time offer.  So, I made a playful, but pretty direct 30-second commercial.  Wrote it up, got ready to send it off for approval….and then, remembered: “Wait…it’s supposed to be a 60-second commercial!  I was 30-seconds short!”  And that’s when it dawned on me.  The beauty of a 30-second commercial is that you’re concise, it doesn’t demand too much on the attention span, and it’s an efficient way to get out an easy-to-understand message.  Why not state that 30-second concept and then use the 2nd half of the spot to playfully point out the offer again?   After all, radio commercials can be heard or ignored, they’re just a part of our background and it takes a lot for one to grab our attention.  But this was a real departure and might be a hard concept to sell.  So, I recorded a demo of what it would be like and it was sent off to the Car Toys brass.  In no time at all, they said, “Go for it.”

The copy was sent off to our very talented voice guy, Mike Madeoy, in Hawaii.  We sent both the script and my demo, to give him an idea how playful I wanted that second half to be.  Mike has always been the ultimate pro and taken it one step further and this time, he knocked it out of the park.  He decided at the end to have his dog bark at the end and respond to it, “That’s right, Zeus”.   We got the voice, Scott Burns put his masterful production touches on it and it went off to Car Toys for almost instant approval.

The amazing coincidence–among those approving it, one of them had a dog…..named Zeus.

You may have already heard the commercial, but if not, here you go.

We took a chance and it seemed like this commercial was destined to be on the radio.  Right, Zeus?

Tim Hunter


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