Category Archives: commercials

Bookin’ funny


I found myself laughing like an idiot by the end of the new spot, helplessly ceding my critical faculties to a dirty twist on nameonics.

The :60 commercial is really 2 spots in one. The first 40 seconds are a mildly amusing if dutiful execution of a planner insight: travelers are terrified that the hotel they book online will turn out, upon arrival, to be a disaster. This worry is exacerbated here in the U.S., where our Draconianmarket-driven economy allows for far fewer vacation days than in Europe.

In the last 20 seconds, however, the spot goes crazily off the rails, with the VO announcer yelling : “It’s booking marvelous! Look at the booking view!” and so on, like a sportscaster at an English soccer match who’s had a few too many pints but is swearing faster than the censors can bleep him. Having spent a lot of time in the company of Scottish fishing guides who say “fooking” at least 3 times in every sentence, the riff had a special relevance, but I think it’s pretty hard not to get the joke.

It’s booking stupid and sophomoric. It also gets my vote for Next Big Advertising Meme. The spot comes from Weiden’s Amsterdam office, which explains a lot. I saw it on FX’s “Justified” which also explains a lot: a network for guys with grown-up discretionary income but the sensibilities of 14-year olds. Perfect.

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All out of proportion

Live sports, broadcast in HD, seen on a properly configured HD TV, is a visual treat. Watching commercials dropped into that broadcast: much less so. Last night watching the Yankees game I saw, in one commercial pod, the following:

–a spot letterboxed vertically and horizontally

–a spot stretched to fit 16:9

–a spot in 4:3 with vertical letterboxing

While TV manufacturers are busy hawking the next technology–3D–advertisers and their agencies and production partners are still coping with HD and widescreen.

Like Afghanistan, there are no good options, only bad and more bad. Consider: if you finish your spot in cinema (widescreen) 16:9, viewers with regular (4:3) TVs will see it horizontally letterboxed. If you finish it 4:3, viewers with widescreen TVs will either see it vertically letterboxed or stretched like Super Putty to fit the screen.

Wait, you say. Widescreen is here to stay, and so is HD. Maybe, but remember: that big beautiful 1080p screen needs to be properly configured and provided with HD signal. The first is beyond most people’s capability and the second is rarer than you think. Why do you suppose all those TVs in bars, gyms, banks and lobbies have their Fox talking heads all looking unnaturally wide (and Rush even more so)? Because no one set the controls. And all those Law & Order episodes cha-chunging away till for the rest of time? Low-def, baby.

The interesting thing (to me at least) is: no one outside the business even notices. First, because it’s a commercial break and who cares, and second, because in a world of Flips, grainy videos and 2-inch screens, production issues don’t matter much.

But take it from me: if you’re selling a weight-loss product, you do not want your client seeing her commercial with everyone in it looking like a double-wide trailer because it’s been stretched to fit the screen.