Ad Space – See the Special Man!

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Frankie & Johnny’s Furniture

The Promotion:

The Pitch:
With nooooooo problem!

Local commercials don’t have the resources of the big, national ad campaigns. They can’t afford animated mascots or musical numbers or celebrity endorsements. Most of them can’t even afford actors; instead, sales clerks and snowplow drivers will suddenly find “appear in commercials for our business” added to their job descriptions.

One of the few things local ads have going for them, something money can’t buy (and a lack of money can’t take away), is enthusiasm. They may not have the slick salesmanship of the big dogs, but they can sound positively ecstatic about what they’re selling. They can talk about their latest promotion with all the passion of a convert telling you how they got religion.

And that’s something that only works in these small, local ads. If a big corporation like Apple or Pepsi put so much intensity into their messaging, then the sheer artificiality of it, the knowledge that it was all planned out by rich execs in board rooms, and the lines delivered by actors paid thousands or millions of dollars for their performance: that’d put a lot of people off.

But when the owner of an area business appears on camera with a handful of their employees, trying their darndest to get you excited for what they have to offer, there’s a certain sincerity to it. Oh, they’re almost certainly not as passionate about their product as they pretend to be. But they do genuinely, desperately need this ad to work.

If Budweiser spends a million dollars on an ad campaign but sales don’t go up, their stock price might dip a small amount and maybe someone in marketing gets in trouble. But if a local furniture store spends a few thousand dollars on a commercial, then whether it works can mean the difference between prosperity and closing their doors for good.

That sharp, personal investment makes the intensity of local ads feel justified.

In that context, the folks in this Frankie & Johnny commercial getting so manic doing their sales pitch? Not really that unusual. What makes it stand out is that only half of them are bringing that energy. The other half speak in such bored, flat monotones … it feels like, before filming, everyone was given either a sedative or a stimulant, and they just filmed the results.

That, plus attempts at four different catchphrases, and the eternal mystery of the Special Man, makes for a local ad that stands out from the pack.