Wish I’d Said That

Once in a while, a commercial comes along that begs kudos for the writer. Like the one for the insurance company encouraging people to be prepared “for the ‘if’ in ‘life.'” That’s some writer’s “aha moment” in 5 words. You have that nice little “if” smack in the middle of “life,” plus the perfect concept for the subject. The design — interesting typographic variations of the word “life” with “if” pulled out — complements the writing beautifully. (Another writer’s dream — a designer who gets it.)

Hmmm, but maybe the “if in life” is not so perfect because I can’t remember WHICH insurance company it’s for.

I also appreciate the clever wordplay in the commercial for a cell phone company (I think AT&T) touting that it works where you do. I couldn’t get “Philawarepraguicago” out of my head if I tried. I wouldn’t have remembered the company name from the commercials alone, but I did see a billboard from the same campaign on my drive into town — way to market, AT&T.

And kudos to another cell phone company for the funny commercials where the kid talks “texting speak” and the mom translates (“IDK, my BFF Jill?”). I never would have known what any of that meant otherwise. Ditto with the cell phone commercials (what is it with these cell phone companies getting all the clever writers?) where the child and parent are arguing, but saying the opposite of what you’d expect. (“That’s so fair. You always get me everything.”)

I understand it’s a common problem that people remember the commercial, but not the product or company. (Those monkeys in the office — Monster? Career Builder?) One ad that does work on many levels (you easily remember the product name, how to use it, and what it’s for) is so universally annoying that the product’s latest commercials even capitalize on that fact. (“I hate your commercials, but I love your product.”) “Head On — Apply directly to the forehead.” Try watching The Weather Channel without seeing that one. Brilliant.

Jingles can be a great way to distinguish a product. If you watch “Two and a Half Men,” you know that Charlie is a jingle writer. Last week he was lamenting that nobody uses jingles anymore — they just set commercials to rock songs. How true. And kind of sad. No more “Jing-a-ling-a-ling give Roth a ring” or “You’ve got a lot to live, and Pepsi’s got a lot to give.” Ray Liotta’s character in Corinna, Corinna is a jingle writer as well, penning one for JELL-O.

Oh to have that talent. Imagine being able to play and write by ear at the same time! Maybe in my next life. (Where I also hope to be able to draw — I could be a one-woman marketing machine.)

In the meantime, I’ll just keep plugging away, hoping to write something that inspires a “wish I’d said that” in someone else.

For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can.
Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.
                                                         ~ Ernest Hemingway

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