George Duncan

Marketing copywriter/consultant, author

What do an investment advisor and a standpipe cover have in common?

From Watch Your Ads – A media memo by George Duncan

Q: What do an investment advisor and a standpipe cover have in common?

A: I don’t know either, but they both appear in the recent Charles Schwab ad. “Dad” is telling “son” about the ins and outs of investments, explaining that the broker charges him money to manage his investments and gets paid whether investments go up or down (approximately.) The kid is asking “why?” To which the dad realizes he has no answer. In the middle of all this, there’s a shot of some guy – presumably the broker – spinning the cover on a standpipe. Huh?

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Thank you Kathleen Carmody!

When asked a question about her deliberations as a juror in the recent Theodore Wafer murder trial, Ms. Carmody actually replied, “Yes”–a good ole fashioned “yes”! Have you noticed that no one says “yes” anymore? It’s “absolutely” – four syllables instead of yes’ lonely single. Or “that’s exactly right.” Or they repeat what the other person said as a form of agreement:

Did you go to the store?

I did go to the store.  

My favorite theory is that a simple yes, has the effect of turning control of the dialog over to the other person. Can’t have that, can we?

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Oh, Tina, you’re such a hoot

Sorry, Amex, but your ad featuring Tina Fey just looks stupid to me. What’s this “what’s your 20” nonsense? She gets 20 shots at using the card before the Amex police arrest her? What’s your 20 in police dramas means “where are you?” And all the kiddie stuff she’s buying is cute – must have been her concept – but hardly represents the Amex brand. But then I didn’t get a lot of the stuff on 30 Rock either.

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Where would we be without Miller Lite?

Forget the Lion King. The circle of life begins with Miller Lite. At least that’s the message of a current ad where two people are drawn together by the brew, get married and “hubbada, hubbada, hubbada,” (no kidding) out pops YOU!  As Bill Maher said, if Miller and Budweiser want to own the world they at least should learn how to make beer.

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Back to the 50’s!

The current Expedia ad features a bunch of “summertime” shots, right out of a 1950’s photo album. Is that smart?

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Breaking the 4th Wall

As a long time amateur thespian, I find Showtime’s practice of interrupting episodes of their new hit, “The Honorable Woman” for out-of-character comments by the actors on their roles, how they handled this or that moment, etc. In theater it’s called breaking the 4th wall and although both Willie Shakespeare and Frank Underwood do it quite successfully, I find Showtime’s version an annoying distraction from what’s a pretty good drama.  C-, Showtime.

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Hi Performance, huh?

As roads and highways become ever more clogged, and we spend more time at 20mph than at 50, several car manufacturers are stressing max performance in their ads. Lexus, Nissan, Jag-u-ar, even Ford (remember the woodies?) are putting the pedal to the metal on oddly empty roads, racetracks and for Ford, off in every direction presumably to save the world from something. Where the hell do they think we’re going? BTW, that Infinity guy is a menace on the road. Avoid him.

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Good to Know

Just to prove that the whole world isn’t going to hell in a handbasket, kudos to Berkshire Hathaway for their excellent tag line, “Good to Know.” Projects trust. Certainly something one needs more than ever in real estate transactions today. No thanks to Morgan Stanley and “Citi”.

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Soapbox Time

The seeds of the domestic violence now besetting the NFL are, in my view, sown in high school by hundreds of football-crazed communities all across America. In those cities and towns, varsity football and sometimes basketball players are lionized as local gods and as gods, they regularly lay their just claim to the sexual favors of all too compliant young women who equate promiscuity with status – thereby beginning the debasement of women early along with algebra – as parents and community leaders look the other way. The dynamic continues into college with 20% of women being raped, date and otherwise. And probably not by the debate club president. Women’s response appears to continue well beyond college with, for example, Janay’s apology for getting her face in the way of husband Ray’s fist – and the 50 or so women who showed up for the next game wearing Ray Rice jerseys, as a way of giving the rest of us the finger. I’d say pay attention to the kind of adulation your community is bestowing on your high school athletes, but recently 60 Minutes aired a segment on NFL recruitment of grade school kids. You know, like age 12, so maybe we have to look further.

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