Christmas All-Time All-Stars – WIF Pop Culture

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 People Who Helped

Define Modern Christmas

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Christmas All-time

 

All-Stars

Advertising HOF – WIF Consumer Corner

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Advertising Campaign

Hall Of Fame

It might seem hard to believe for many people, but commercials are a cherished part of the pop culture landscape. As much as viewers are willing to pay extra fees to stream movies and television shows without ad breaks, commercial compilations are still extremely popular on YouTube and catchphrases from them are as likely to enter the zeitgeist (“Where’s the beef?”) as anything from the best programming. The sheer amount of market share or public interest that they can generate when they’re done right is staggering. The commercials here might not be some of your favorites, but for the companies behind their creation, they were golden geese. Sometimes that was the case for years, or even decades.

 10. GEICO Cavemen

In 2004 the auto insurance giant GEICO aired a commercial where the joke was that an announcer said saving money with their insurance was “so easy a caveman could do it!” This offended the caveman that was working with the crew for the shoot as a boom operator, causing him to yell “not cool!” and storm off the set. As the concept of political correctness was at the time, and continues to be, a hot button issue, the small joke struck such a chord with audiences that variations on the premise of easily offended, urbane cavemen were made by GEICO for the next three years even though the initial plan for the campaign was to only make three commercials about offended cavemen.They became such runaway successes that in 2007 Joe Lawson, the writer that started the whole phenomenon, joined forces with directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck to sell ABC on a series for the cavemen. The series was not a hit with critics or audiences, but it was still much more than a one-off joke that you’d expect to be skipped or fast-forwarded through could ever reasonably hope for.

9. Erin – Esurance

In 2004, with a fairly meager budget of $60,000 (in an industry where commercials average about$350,000), a marketer named Kimberly Brewe hired three independent animators to create a female agent for auto insurance who fought thugs on rooftops and infiltrated secret headquarters. Within five years she had been featured in 30 commercials on national television and made the up and coming Esurance a household name even though there’d been no brand awareness of Esurance before that ad campaign.

Esurance received actual fan mail for the character almost immediately after test broadcasts were made in Sacramento. It was a strong indication of just how much the cartoon character connected with audiences since, in 2004, action heroines were more of a novelty. Unfortunately, some would argue that she ended up connecting with audiences a bit too much. Foremost among those making that argument would be Esurance itself, whose management cancelled the character in 2010 when it was learned that she was a popular character in online pornography.

8. “It’s Only a Movie…”

Wes Craven’s 1972 debut film Last House on the Left is one of the most influential, if not really celebrated, horror films ever made. It was a mainstream success with more graphic, disturbing content than almost any film from its time and ushered in a wave of more intense horror movies, even though it’s so badly made that Craven disowned it after moving on to hits like
Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. What really made Last House on the Left a hit was its memorable ad campaign, with a trailer that told the audience that to avoid fainting they would have to tell themselves, “It’s only a movie, only a movie, only a movie, only a movie” while showing relatively little footage.As film critic Joe Reid explained, it was an especially effective ad because of a combination of sheer confidence in telling the audience that they’d need to “distance” themselves from the action onscreen to be able to keep watching it at all, and the lack of information about the plot left audiences more intrigued. Shame it couldn’t have been used in the service of promoting a better movie.

7. Carl’s Jr.’s Racy Ads

In one of the highest profile examples of the notion that there’s no bad publicity in advertising, Carl’s Jr.’s sexually provocative Super Bowl ads began in 2006 with an ad featuring Paris Hiltonwashing a car and quickly got more ridiculous. This promotional campaign has been a boon for supermodels such as Kate Upton and Charlotte McKinney, who owed much of their subsequent careers to pretending to eat burgers in a suggestive manner or while dressed in very revealing ways. It’s also been a source of considerable irritation for people who believe the ads demean women.

CEO Andy Puzder claimed that the publicity brought by the commercials saved a fast food companythat, before the sexual ad campaign, was on the brink of bankruptcy. Puzder also pointed out that the ads are no more graphic than the covers of magazines. Whatever the truth of that, in March 2017 Carl’s Jr. so completely changed their marketing campaign that they made a commercial explicitly denouncing their previous advertisements. Allegedly the change in direction was because Millennials are more concerned by the healthiness of their food than they are titillated by relatively tame commercials when the internet exists.

6. Verizon’s Test Man

There may be no statement that seems less likely to launch someone to fame than, “Can you hear me now? Good.” Still, in 2002, cell phone coverage was limited enough that being unsure about getting reception depending on where you were standing was a sentiment the average telecommunications customer understood. So when Verizon began airing commercials that year featuring Paul Marcarelli just repeating that same question and answer over and over in a variety of locations to illustrate how thoroughly Verizon was allegedly expanding its coverage, people responded to it in a big way. USA Today reported in 2004 that the campaign had aided in a 10% boost to Verizon’s customers the first year and a 15% one on the second. It even was credited with dropping their customer turnover rate by over 25%.

For all that, it was a very mixed blessing for Marcarelli himself. Since he was famous almost exclusively for asking the same question over and over (despite being a successful screenwriter) inevitably people on the street hounded him over it for years, even at a funeral. In 2016 he went over to the rival telecommunications company Sprint in commercials that claimed that basically all carriers offered equally good services. It must have been very gratifying for him to be allowed to say anything other than the same six words.

5. Maytag Repairman

It’s amazing how long a simple joke can play out in the world of television commercials with very minor variations. In 1967, Jesse White played a senior repairman for Maytag appliances dressing down his trainees. The joke of the commercial was that they never got any work in their jobs because Maytag products never needed to be repaired. It’s at least good for a smirk, but audiences so enjoyed it that White played the part 60 times over the next 22 years. The role later went to Gordon Jump, famous for his role on WKRP in Cincinnati and that one episode of Diff’rent Strokes in which he played a pedophile. Yeah, that happened. Jump played the role of the Maytag Repairman from 1989 until 2003.

Somehow, interest in the Maytag Repairman built back up until the character was resurrected, played now by Colin Ferguson, who you may recognize as the star of Eureka or from his role on The Vampire Diaries, and who took up the mantle in 2014. A study by the Maytag company found in 2011 that 85% of those surveyed recognized the character and 18% considered him one of their favorite characters, demonstrating just how much the simplest ideas can be the most successful.

4. The Most Interesting Man in the World

In 2006, Jonathan Goldsmith was hired to promote Dos Equis brand beer. He didn’t so much play a character as he embodied a persona: A man who was the embodiment of worldliness, sophistication, and experience to such an absurd degree that his life experiences became wordplay (e.g. the commercial’s narrator saying that “his two cents is worth $37.”) He went truly viral on sites such as Reddit. Thousands of posts were made of an image of him with text superimposed over it that paraphrased his catchphrase “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” The campaign meant four straight years of growth for Dos Equis, including one year where it shot up 26%.

Touchingly, Goldsmith was able to parlay his internet appeal for very noble causes. In 2014, he reached out to Reddit, among other sites, to promote efforts to remove landmines from Cambodia. Other charities he has supported include Free Art for Abused Children and the tiger protection group the Sabre Foundation. Maybe this doesn’t make him the most interesting man in the world, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

3. Speedy the Alka Seltzer Boy

You might think an anthropomorphic Alka-Seltzer tablet or a customer with indigestion would be the ideal mascot for the antacid. Indeed, one commercial featuring a man yelling “Mamma mia! That’s a spicy meatball!” spawned an enduring catchphrase. But Alka-Seltzer’s first approach was to make a cherub-faced, red-headed child named Speedy in 1952. By the time the character’s initial run ended in 1964, he had been featured in 212 commercials and appeared opposite such stars as silent film legend Buster Keaton, rendered both in 2D and in stop motion.

But the character seemed to keep coming back. In 1980 he was featured in a commercial for the Winter Olympics. Then the character was rebooted in 2008 because he was “retro cool.” Oddly, the publications the ads were featured in were skin magazines Maxim and Playboy, which don’t feel like the most natural fit for this kind of character.

2. How Many Licks

If you are a television viewer of a certain age, it’s pretty much impossible for you to have not seen this cartoon commercial that first aired in 1969. In the initial, minute long version, a human boy walks up to three animals and asks them how many licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop before being told to ask the owl. As you know, the owl licks it three times, then bites it before concluding the answer is “three.”

Instead of being remade or having spinoff commercials, the cartoon itself was so popular that rather than remake it or do variations, it was merely shortened to just a turtle and the owl and then rerun for decades. The silly central question was so firmly imprinted on the public consciousness that several colleges, such as New York University, and independent study groups found time to determine the answer for themselves. The current accepted answer is approximately one thousand.

1. Honda’s Cog Commercial

Not many commercials have ever instilled a sense of wonder in viewers. In 2003 Honda pulled it off with an elaborate commercial for their Accord model that featured a very elaborate Rube Goldberg machine that had audiences everywhere saying, “that had to be fake.” But the truth was that aside from digitally cutting two takes together, it was completely live action. It just happened to take six months of planning and a week-long shoot with a staggering six hundred takes to get every extremely precise reaction right.

The doubtless extremely frustrating work paid off handsomely when the commercial quadrupled Honda’s web traffic and tripled outreach to their contact center. This was in no small part because there was so much controversy over whether the commercial was done for real or not that Snopeshad to write an article vouching for it. But good luck convincing any company to not do something like this with CGI today.


Advertising HOF

– WIF Consumer Corner

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 233

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 233

…Matchmaking is rampant… on either end of the Milky Way…

“We are going to have the biggest wedding that Houston has ever seen!”

“Have you told Mom?” He speaks of the former First Lady of the United States of America, now Director of Programming for The Space Channel. “And I bet Braden doesn’t know his ranch is going to be overrun?”

“No, but she hasn’t told her parents either.” Equal opportunity ignorance.

Gus McKinney has struck relationship-gold in the person of a bright, talented, drop-dead gorgeous, and most importantly girl of a fine Irish family.

“I don’t know about the McDonalds, but I know Francine will be thrilled; she introduced you to Mindy, correct?” Matchmaking is rampant… on either end of the Milky Way.

“Yes, on that same Christmas Eve evening, only at the Space Channel party, not the one where Maddox blew a gasket. She was about ready to leave when I got there, but Mom was hanging on to her for dear life.”

“Yeah, all of the sudden you disappeared from the great Galvy bash. You missed Braden doing karaoke.”

“I took a call from Mom at midnight and I promised I would drop by, she told me there was someone she wanted me to meet. I thought they wanted to interview me about the test flight.”

“S-n-e-a-k-y, I bet will be hearing that story for forever!”

0200 has made it daily appearance and this time it is Gus who insists that he should hit the hay. He has two things to dream about:

  1. A safe flight out to planetoid Pluto and back
  2. Mindy McDonald will be waiting when he gets back

THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 233


page 274

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 173

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 173

…Roy Crippen usually avoids questions asked during the chaos of travel, but he cannot resist this shot at a GLOBAL NETWORK news-byte…

Before Roy can ask if he can use that last line in his upcoming speech, the casino doorman has the rear hatch open, unleashing a flood of LED flashes from the waiting photojournalists. Of all the things that are hard for Roy to get used to, this moment is it. The transition from private to public, in the blink of a squinting eye has that movie star feel, when he actually considers himself a director.

Again, his image-shaping partner proves her value. Years in front of camera and mic has prepared her for this time in the sun, making sure it rubs off on Roy, even if it has to be applied daily.

Despite having survived the failure/destruction of Space Colony 1 {and the subsequent loss of two dear friends in the process}, the hard-fought nominating battles, and the withering attention, his demographics are favorable and polling numbers are on course with a bullet.

“Mr. Crippen,” yells an aggressive young female CNN reporter who manages to ace out her more considerate colleagues. “What is your reaction to Sylvia Freelove’s claim that you bullied the President into those deadly attacks on United Korea and Talibanistan?”

Roy usually avoids questions asked during the chaos of travel, but he cannot resist this shot at a GLOBAL NETWORK news-byte.

“To tell you the truth Miss,” the moving mass stops moving to hear his rebuttal, “I had not heard that one and it is that kind of misinformation I am determined to put an end to. Ask the Joint Chiefs if I managed to bully them first?

“And wasn’t it Ms. Freelove’s boss who took all the credit for the idea, only after it was obvious that the United Korean Peninsula was behind the Space Colony calamity? Or that he is leading the charge against Space Colony II? Space Colony II will be a reality when I am elected.”

“Then what about your conciliatory stance toward Korea? I don’t understand the disconnect?”

Candidate Crippen launches into a spontaneous analogy.

“I had/haven’t seen my cousin Harold, a nasty spoiled city boy, who came to visit my family’s house one summer….

… READ THE REST OF ROY’S  HEARTWARMING STORY TOMORROW…


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 173


page 209

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 147

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 147

..When it seemed like he wouldn’t let her go, his European Police Siren ringtone lets the whole area know that he has an incoming call. Upon seeing the I.D….

“Thank you and good day.”

Francine backs away from the podium, turning toward a stage left exit, when a cry comes out from the crowd, “Miss Bouchette!!! Is it true that you left KHST in Houston in violation of your “sweetheart” contract?” He must be a friend of her former fiancée.

Nowheresville USA from Kasey Musgraves

This voice is antithetical to the previous 30 queries, antagonistic, from the middle of the mulling transcriptional troubadours. She was going to ignore the provocation and continue on, but chooses not to retreat from the cowardly question asked when the lights have been doused and attentions have shifted… by someone she recognizes.

“If I am not mistaken Mr. Loyd, with one L, weren’t you under contract when you left Nowheresville, Arkansas for the greener pastures of the Dallas market six years ago?”

The man’s self-righteous grin is inverted to a frown as he slithers toward the door, while other reporters in the know inherit his smile. Pockets of applause erupt from those remaining to witness Francine’s rapier wit.

In the wings, Roy exhibits delight for Francine, fully aware of the awkward position he has asked of her. She is more relieved than pleased, but accepts his warm embrace.

Image result for police siren gifWhen it seemed like he wouldn’t let her go, his European Police Siren ringtone lets the whole area know that he has an incoming call. Upon seeing the I.D., “You’ll want to take a seat for this one.”

He makes the caller {the President} wait five rings and clears his throat, preparing for a preemptive strike lobbed all the way from the Hawkeye State, “Your Press Secretary delivered a real snow-job at that presser, which was nothing more than an advertisement for funding of a second space colony, Director Crippen. I think they would be more interested in the incompetent handling of the New Mayflower Incident!”, Pedro “Pete” Sanchez blusters in his best  back-seat bravado!

“Mr. President Sir, we are talking about a clear matter of self-defense and protecting the World Space Consortium’s investments from the jealous actions of rogue nations.”

Francine could not possibly guess what Roy is about to tell the leader of the free world, of all people.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 147


page 181

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 129

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 129

…The Air Jamaica aircraft lifts up and away from the seaside airport, not being a very long flight, they barely get above 20,000 feet

20000 ft by Photojournalist Rdiger Nehmzow

Old Francine

— “Do you possibly have an open seat somewhere — you know what I mean?” she points and whispers to a flight attendant to escape her sweaty human sandwich. “What is the holdup Miss?”

Old Francine would have thrown an absolute fit and shouted her way off the plane, accomplishing absolutely nothing except drawing undue attention to her disrespectful derrière.

New Francine

“We are under a security alert, something going on to the west, sort of like a red light in the sky.” A loaded passenger plane sitting on the taxiway for two hours is borderline cruel and unusual. “We just had a single window seat, 3A open up, why don’t we move you up?”

New Francine asks for the attendant’s name, “I will be writing a letter praising your service to Air Jamaica, thank you.”

Just after staking her claim at the front of the jet, the calming voice of the Captain fills the cabin, “Good afternoon passengers of Air Jamaica Flight 217 nonstop to Related imageHouston Texas. We will be taking off shortly and we thank you for your patience. The stewardesses will be handing out complimentary beverages.”

“If he weren’t the oldest pilot in the fleet, I would be offended.”

“At least he didn’t call you an airplane waitress…I’ll have a vodka rocks please,” Francine relates her similar story of having been introduced, early in her career, in a pre-sweeps station promo, as anchor-girl Francine Bushel.

The jet aircraft lifts up and away from the seaside airport. It is not a very long flight and they barely get above 20,000 feet, but the view from her window is nonstop fantastic, with Cuba fading into background of the azure Gulf-blue waters and the familiar soil and foliage of the Gulf Coast states rising to the north.

Like tiny islands, oil drinking platforms dot the water below, but one in particular seems to be the hub of activity. She reaches down to her carry-on to retrieve her trusty pair of field glasses, every good reporter has one, and gets a 20x power view of the action. She pulls back, rubs her eyes to make sure she isn’t seeing things, the one thing being the familiar blue & white paint scheme of Roy’s helicopter; blades idling, atop the one acre pedestal. There are a good thirty-odd people mulling about, many of whom belong to that huge Coast Guard cutter lashed to the side.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 129


page 159

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 115

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 115

…And here I pictured you as a pale, wimpy science freak the first time I talked to you on the phone…

Image result for lawrence welk bubbles

 

Today’s Episode brought to you by Lawrence Welk

— When sleep finally comes to her and him, it is deep and long.

In the dim light of day, Roy untangles an arm that has been wrapped around Francine like a twist tie and looks for his PDA to see if he had set the alarm. His device reads 9A which opposes the noon-like high blue sky. He chooses to trust the earlier time, so no need to rush cuddling time.

Tick-tock-tick-tock and ten o’clock causes him to stir. His restless movement alerts his bed-buddy, who prevents his escape by employing the old kiss-tummy-to-neck trick. It works.

“And where do you think you’re going mister?”

The acid test for beauty is the morning wake-up. Without makeup, jewelry and clothes or shower, contacts and hair gel, is the way God intended adult men & women to see each other. Francine is a solid A Image result for grade athrough Roy’s eyes and Roy rates an A-, because he sleeps like he is weightless {all over the place}, but that is why the king-sized bed was invented.

“We are burning daylight and we don’t want people to get the wrong impression.”

“We are on vacation, the rest of the world can be damned,” she brags, playfully running her fingers through the hair on his chest, yes chest. “How is it you are so tan?”

“I have a small boat on the Gulf; go out after Red Snapper and Groper on Saturdays.”

“Two aircraft and now a boat that I suspect is not a skiff. What else don’t I know about your life?”

“I play http://www.ExpertScrabble.com with Braden and I enjoy long walks in the desert.”

“And here I pictured you as a pale, wimpy science freak the first time I talked to you on the phone.”

“I also play tennis and golf and love God.”

“I adore tennis have taken a couple of golf lessons and a 38 footer stocked with bait ‘n beer is my idea of a great weekend.”

“That is God, tennis, and beer ‘n bait in that order. I drive up to Lakewood Church in Houston when I’m in Texas.”

“I’ve been there back in the Osteen days, but with my weekend schedule I have trouble squeezing in time for God.”

“And when you’ve been up in space, it is hard to think about anything else but
God.”

The more she learns about Roy Crippen the more she is impressed. She doubts that there is a more well-rounded man in the United States of America, and she is trapped on this deserted desert island with that very man—well not so deserted or arid.

 


THE RETURN TRIP

Image result for deserted island artwork

Deserted Island by Jacek Yerka

Episode 115


page 142

 

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