Commercial Success

Excerpt from: {see} Digital Magazine - Issue #8
Published: November 4, 2009


It's late. You're on the couch in a hazy pre-sleep recline and flip through the channels when you see one of those horrible commercials that only shows in your town. You know, the ones with the brightly colored graphics and some cheesy guy fumbling his way through a terribly dated attempt at rap. You know you shouldn't be watching it but you're mesmerized by the sheer awfulness of the music / clothing / haircuts / acting / graphics / cinematography.

These commercials are so bad they're good, and if you asked around, you'd find tons of people who share that guilty pleasure of watching those local commercials.

By now you've probably heard of I Love Local Commercials, the online contest where businesses get a local commercial that is so bad it's good. It's a lot of fun and people around the country are nominating their favorite small businesses for free commercials. You may not know that these commercials can have a serious impact on a business's publicity.

These days, videos get passed around online like candy, and the ones that people pass around the most are the funny ones. Even if your business doesn't get picked to become a Rhett&Linkommercial, you can still use personality to get publicity and bring in customers. Here are a few lessons to take from the MicroBilt/Rhett & Link I Love Local Commercials campaign that you can use in your marketing.

  1. Sponsor smart: A local brewery sponsoring a little league team might look questionable, but who says you need to sponsor something that already exists. MicroBilt sponsored I Love Local Commercials because it is in line with MicroBilt's goal of supporting small businesses. In our local brewery example, why not bring something new to the table that shows personality, like an all-male wet T-shirt contest where contestants are judged based on the quality and quantity of their chest hair. That lets people know that your beer is about good times and not taking yourself too seriously.
  2. Kill the messenger: Nobody speaks for your business better than you. You don't have to make a fool of yourself, nor should you bully your creative team into letting you be the star of the show, but using real people who really care about a business is a great way to show your business has personality. As Rhett McLaughlin said while recording the now famous Red House Television commercial "Everybody tries to parody a commercial and they end up using actors to do it and it's obvious."
  3. Tell the truth: One of the first Rhett&Linkommercials features a Cuban Gynecologist who is now an Auto Salesman. That's not something they made up for the commercial. Truth is stranger than fiction. Telling a good story that engages people with your business can seriously pay off.

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