George Duncan

Marketing copywriter/consultant, author

Eyes straight ahead, mister

From Watch Your Ads – A media memo by George Duncan

Eyes straight ahead, mister

It isn’t often I laugh out loud at an ad, but Subaru did it with their ad showing a daddy dog and his significant other driving along in their Subaru. As he stops for a light, a very smartly clipped poodle prances across the intersection in front of the car. Daddy spots her immediately of course, and as discretely as possible, silently follows her with his big brown gaze. As Ms. Poodleoo reaches the right side, however, daddy’s head moves imperceptively to the right where he meets his partner’s gaze next to him and hears a low grrrrrr. Ah memories!

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Act now and get 35 water balloons in ten seconds!

Yes, practical jokesters, technology has come to the rescue. No more endless waiting for your balloons to slowly fill with water one at a time. Now’s new technology lets you fill 35 balloons in a single motion! Imagine! Now you can carry a packet of 35 balloons with you to school, work, church or wherever water balloons are sure to make a splash. Find a faucet, fill all 35 balloons simultaneously and it’s bombs away!

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Talk about my lawn, not your grass seed

A Microsoft ad wanted to point up the scalability of the technology they deploy to deliver events like Real Madrid football games to any device. The copy declares how their scalability “gives us the power we need to deliver…” No MS, no one cares about the power you need. They care about the flexibility they get to watch Real Madrid defeat Manchester United on their choice of desktop, tablet, iPad or iPhone. “Talk about my lawn, not your grass seed” is one of the oldest admonitions in marketing. Time you guys got some folks with experience working the copy.

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How to extract a child quickly from a hot car that is locked, windows closed

Police Instructor: Always break the window on the side opposite where the child is sitting.

You: OK, How do I break the window? That’s special glass. My hand or elbow haven’t worked.

P.I.: You probably have a jack handle in the trunk. Use that.

You: But if the car is locked, I can’t open the trunk.

P.I.: There is a handy tool available now that’s designed to break auto glass. You can get one inexpensively at most auto parts places. It fits in the glove box.

You: But if the car is locked, I can’t open the glove box, and I probably wouldn’t carry it in my pocket 24/7.

P.I.: Thank you. Have a good day.

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Would you like a sprig of parsley on those wages?

In an ad for Optima Tax Relief, spokesperson Alan Thicke tries to scare the hell out of his audience by enumerating all the horrors the IRS “could” unleash on you if you don’t pay back taxes. Especially tasty is his suggestion that the IRS could “garnish” your wages. So think about it. Would you like a sprig of parsley with those wages? How about a split radish or a lemon slice? Maybe he meant “garnishee” which comes just after garnish in the dictionary and has to do with copping your paycheck from your employer. But fear not. As I’ve written here earlier, most of the disasters described by Thicke and other such tax assistance services are pure baloney. The IRS has a debtors’ amnesty program available today that you could probably navigate with them directly without Mr. Thicke’s fee-based help.

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Beware false flags

There’s an ad for “Medicare Health Reform” running periodically on cable. In black and red type, it projects an aura of governmental officialese. However, the flyspec condensed text three-quarters of the way down cautions that Medicare Health Reform is not affiliated with any governmental entity. So be warned. Why would an organization deliberately project such a false appearance, if not to deceive?

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VW Jetta has a pair of ads featuring a pair of ladies of a certain age — twins no less – in loud and crass caftan-like dress harassing a young salesman in loud and crass tones that sound to me like vintage New Yawk. The scenes have mildly sexual undertones that just make me cringe. In one they play games with “year-end” and “rear end” as they admire a young man’s butt. “What kind of car do you like?” one lady asks him. “New or maaany miles on it?” And the car? What car?

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Just sayin…

Lie Down with Pigs

Much has been written these last few weeks about Donald Trump and his outrageous hijacking of the Republican primary race, including by me, most of it more effectively phrased than anything I could write. The latest – and most accurate, I believe – is an op-ed in the Sunday Times (7/26) by Timothy Egan.

Mr Egan’s take is that Trump – some are calling it Trumpism — is not only the natural result of the trashing of the Republican brand; he is the Republican brand. “Somewhere,” he writes, “we crossed a line – from our mother’s modesty to strutting braggadocio, from dutiful decorum to smashing all the china in the room, from respecting a base set of facts to a trumpeting of willful ignorance.” I might quarrel with his use of the word “facts” to describe Republican policy, since every fact I’ve ever heard them espouse was contradicted by either experience (trickle down) or independent statistics (the benefits of Obamacare). Other than that, Mr. Egan is right on target. From those starkly racist signs the Tea Party types carried during the 2008 presidential campaign and Congressman Joe Wilson’s insulting, “You lie!” during the State of the Union address to Michelle Bachman’s death panels and Steve King’s cantaloupe calves, nary a Republican voice was raised in criticism of any of this nonsense, thus sealing new levels of crazy into the Republican character.

Trump’s recent attack on immigrant Mexicans and John MCain’s heroism and Mike Huckabee’s trip to Auswitch are just the latest configurations of Republican crazy as they learn that the media will illuminate their every belch giving them free TV advertising at the expense of our precious Democratic process. Apparently, the so-called Republican “base” is ok with that. Add that to traditional Republican opposition to education, the social safety net, funding government through taxation, minority voting rights, women’s health, equitable pay policies and much more and I don’t know why an informed voter would ever elect a Republican to anything.

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Keep clickin’


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