Archive for the ‘TV Reviews’ Category

Here’s the Pitch – Squirrels on Scooters

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

My brother Steven turned me onto this spot from American Airlines and I thought I would share it here. I think this spot works for a number of reasons:

  1. Premise – It’s a simple idea: a film producer trots around the globe with her eccentric director scouting locations for a film. She’s exhausted, but because of American Airlines new international business class, she can enjoy some much-needed rest while traveling the world. In your own marketing and advertising efforts, keep your strategy simple and on point. Find that key selling point you can wrap a campaign around.
  2. Problem & Solution – Notice how the commercial sets up a need: busy world traveler wants some quality rest. The solution is the new international business class from American Airlines, which offers seats that can transform into a small bed.
  3. Characters – The eccentric, quirky film director is stereotypical, yet funny and memorable. Even in a thirty-second spot, characters are important.
  4. Pacing – The cuts are quick, but they don’t confuse the viewer. And they add to the humor in the spot. The style of edit should match the subject matter of the piece and support the mood you’re trying to achieve.
  5. Comedy – The movie is about Parisian squirrels who ride scooters. The premise of the movie is irrelevant to the overall strategy, but it provides the quirky comedy necessary to help the spot stay memorable.

And as always, feel free to leave your impressions on this commercial in the “comments” section.

ABC’s ‘Wipeout’ Hilarious

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

The summer months mark the time of year when networks trot out a lot of reality programming and game shows in an effort to keep viewers satisfied until the fall shows premiere. Historically I have found these shows a complete waste of time, but I think ABC scored big with the premiere of Wipeout, a game show that throws contestants through outrageous obstacle courses in an attempt to win $50,000. By no means is Wipeout an intelligent show that will enlighten our culture, but if you like to see people get knocked down, spun around, thrown down, and bounced around, then this show is for you. I laughed so hard through the first six minutes of the premiere that I spit out the chips and salsa I happened to be chewing at the time. The show’s commentators John Anderson (of ESPN) and John Henson (former Talk Soup host) add to the hilarity with their dry-witted comments. My only concern about the show concerns its longevity. Although the hosts promise variety in upcoming obstacles, one must wonder how quickly the newness of this premise will last. But for now, let’s enjoy the ride.

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Discovery Channel Impresses with ‘Great Wall’

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Television viewers over the past few years have seen an impressive surge in the production quality of many shows. A generation ago, shows were stiff and unrealistic. Historical specials were extremely low budget and featured reenactments filled with poor costuming, unrealistic locations, no special effects, and bad acting. However, in recent years, this has all changed.

In my opinion, the History Channel and Discovery Channel are at the forefront of high quality television specials with great production value. The investments made in creating these shows have certainly paid off and the result is a more cinematic experience, that both informs and entertains.

Take, for example, Discovery Channel’s latest historical special – a two-hour look at the construction of the Great Wall of China. Titled, Behind the Great Wall, the documentary educates the viewer on the culture of 16th century China and discusses the socio-economic and political climate that necessitated the construction. But the film doesn’t merely focus on reciting historical fact. It gives the story a human touch by introducing us to the key players in this real-life drama. We learn about their families, their homes, their lifestyles, and personal ambitions. We learn of the personal sacrifice it took to complete this engineering feat.

But the viewer isn’t forced to listen to a stuffy historian talk about these facts. We are taken to 16th century China through powerful reenactments that are as authentic as anything in a big-budget blockbuster. Armies on horseback. Hand-to-hand combat. Cannon blasts. It’s all packed into this very educational and entertaining documentary. I came away from the film with a whole new wealth of knowledge about Chinese history, but felt that I still wanted to know more. In the end, the film was more about the people than the wall itself and was somewhat anticlimatic. I was eager to know more about the features behind the wall that gave the Chinese army such great advantages over their enemies. In all, Behind the Great Wall is another fine example of the great programming on right now at Discovery Channel. You can catch this special again on February 2 at 6/5pm central.

Bottom Line: 3 out of 5 stars

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‘On the Lot’ Format Fails

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

I continue to tune in to Fox’s reality series On the Lot purely because I enjoy filmmaking. I also continue to tune in   hoping it will get better. Unfortunately, it has gotten worse. The ratings continue to slide and the reviews thus far are pretty negative.

My biggest problem with the show is the format. This is a show that aspires to find the next great filmmaker by encouraging original ideas and creative thinking. So what do the show’s producers do? They go out and blatantly rip off the format from American Idol. Does any one else see the hypocrisy and the irony here? The “Box Office Results” show was pitiful. All 18 filmmakers were out on stage with a Ryan Seacrest wanna-be talking with them about their experiences. Then you have the three judges, each of them sitting at the front of the stage dishing out advice and criticism. I fast-forwarded through all but about ten minutes of the episode.

For me, the as a viewer, the intrigue is not in the overly-hyped filmmakers-meet-the-judges, but in the process itself. I want to see more about the art and business of filmmaking. I want to learn more about how to make it as a Hollywood insider. I want to delve more into that world, but so far it’s just been a big disappointment.

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The Fist Bump Is Out

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

There weren’t really any commercials from this year’s Super Bowl that blew me away. None that would go down in the record books as being one of the greats, but I did want to share this one from Budweiser that I thought was one of the night’s best.

You might have a differing opinion of this commercial, but I thought it worked for a few reasons:

1. COMICAL – this spot was funny, but not in an overly contrived way. It was silly, but not slapstick. It didn’t try to force funny down your throat.

2. TIMELY – It’s relevant to our culture today and speaks to the fact that we all want to be a part of the latest trend or fad.

3. SIMPLE – When advertisers try to give the viewer too much information in a short amount of time, the core message of your ad is diluted and people get confused. But what’s more simple than this spot? It’s just a bunch of people slapping each other. And because it’s simple, the ad is…

4. MEMORABLE – Ever see a great commercial, but forget what product it was advertising? If you can’t remember the product, then it probably wasn’t a very successful ad. However, this product is easy to remember. Notice how they bookend the spot by focusing your attention on the product. At the very onset of the commercial, the advertisers establish what the product is and then return to the product at the end. That affords them the opportunity to downplay the product throughout the rest of the commercial and emphasize the gag.

As you create your own marketing strategies, don’t ignore other ads you see in print, on television, or on radio. Study them. See what works and what doesn’t. Then you will be better prepared to create your own successful campaign.