Maraca Media-John O'Mara

Freelance copywriter and blogger, shakin' and rockin' it

Category: Blog (page 2 of 34)

Willy Wonka and Captain Picard rage against…everything!

What do Jean-Luc Picard, Willy Wonka, the Dos Equis guy, Ned Stark and Chris Rock have in common?

Their images are used in memes to underscore feelings of shock, outrage, sarcasm or condescension, often out of context.

Chris Rock is one of my favourite comedians. He’s sharp. Somehow I don’t think he gives a hoot about Baby It’s Cold Outside, yet his photo has been meme’d to suggest Rock thinks you are an idiot for being offended by that tune, and remaining a rap fan despite the many hoe and bitch references in hip hop songs.

Jean-Luc, care to weigh in?

“What the fuck…”

Thanks JP, we’ll get back to you.

This comparison is, in the words of another Star Trek character, illogical.

It suggests anyone offended by “what’s in this drink” is okay with “fuck that bitch.” Really? They’re in the same demographic?

Yes, the meme is intended to point out that rap lyrics are far worse than the wordplay of an old Christmas classic (that’s not even about the holidays) and yes, they can be. Every genre from rock and blues to heavy metal has had suggestive content but that doesn’t mean you condone every line.

HEY, YOU’RE CRAZY, BITCH!

I like Buckcherry. I was offended by Crazy Bitch. It was lazy writing. They were pandering and, rather than making an attempt at juvenile humour a la AC/DC or KISS, Buckcherry went straight to fucks, bitches and crazy bitches who fuck so good.

And they knew those words would be bleeped on commercial radio.

My problem with the memes is that many in the Facebook world will take them at face value.

Did you see what Chris Rock said about that Christmas song? Fuckin’ A!

So many…some are friends, others casual acquaintances…post and repost the most outrageous content and an OMG without having clicked on the link. They don’t have time to discover whether the source is legitimate, click bait or batshit crazy propaganda.

Gotta spread the word if only (or mainly) to piss off the snowflakes.

The Wikipedia entry for snowflake says that, while the term was coined to indicate an overly sensitive and easily offended person, well…get ready to slap your forehead, Captain!

WHAT THE…

Snowflakes can be found all over the political spectrum.

Those expressing disgust and outrage at the damn liberals over something they claim to be trivial (“it’s just a song, stop making a big deal of it”) are being snowflakes.

What say you, Willy Wonka? Oh there he is with that familiar, condescending “tell me more” expression.

HOLD ON THERE, GRANPA JOE!

In the actual movie scene, Wonka isn’t being sarcastic at all. He asks the children if they’d like to see “the most secret machine in the entire factory.”

Here’s an excerpt from the piece linked below.

“He responds with a gleeful ‘would you like to see?’ before pausing to look at the children. It’s that face, of barely concealed delight at his own invention, that was used for the meme.”

https://mashable.com/2016/08/29/gene-wilder-meme/#d6FWQEzp98qW

How about that, Ned Stark?

“One does not simply…

…take a photo out of context and use it to rage against whatever is irking you at this moment.”

Just don’t let on you know he’ll be murdered at the end of season one. That would put a damper on things.

ME: Can I buy you a beer, Ned?

NED: What’s in this drink?

ME: Why, the beer promoted by the most interesting man in the world!

Who was dropped from Dos Equis TV ads in 2016 due to the sluggish sales. The company felt the spots were focused mainly on Jonathan Goldsmith’s character and not enough on their product.

WELL, IT WASN’T AS HORRIBLE AS BUD

I tried Dos Equis a few times. Meh. Give me a Keith’s any day. The advertising worked on me with lines like this:

If opportunity knocks, and he’s not home, opportunity waits.

The flavour? Not so much. Bland, and far from the most interesting beer in the world.

I stayed thirsty…for a better pint.

I’ll end this blog with something that has offended me, which takes a lot of doing. I may be labelled as a snowflake but I don’t think every kid in soccer deserves a trophy so there!

Anyway, let’s talk about Captain Picard’s “what the fuck” memes. Star Trek: The Next Generation ran on network TV and the films were PG.

No F words allowed.

Picard was played by Sir Patrick Stewart, who began his career doing Shakespeare and, I could be wrong, might prefer classier ways for his likeness to be shared on social media.

 

Don’t kill your radio campaign with “what the client wants”

I started my radio copywriting career in 1989 and once overheard two reps talking about “What the client wants.”

“I don’t care if all he does for 30 seconds is say his name over and over,” the sales rep said, “as long as he pays his bill.”

As a business person you may be thinking, “I knew it! They just wanted my money and didn’t care about getting more customers through my door. Son of a…”

THAT WAS THEN

Granted, the mainstream advertising world was different back then. No internet competition, no Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, streaming services or satellite radio. You had two main options: radio and newspaper.

Your competitor was on the local station so you felt the need to combat him or her and, even if you weren’t convinced radio worked (it does if you do it right), you gave it a shot.

Get Maraca Media writing for you, email: johnnymaraca@rogers.com

If your campaign failed, there’s a good chance the rep and creative team did want you requested and, unless you had writing experience, that resulted in spots that were ignored by the listeners.

Suppose you dined at high-end steakhouse and asked the server to have the chef pour chocolate sauce on your strip loin, just before serving it. I know, crazy.

But it’s “what the customer wants!”

THE FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE

And that, sadly, is why so many radio ads are all about the client and don’t get the job done. The rep asked for your input and you struggled to come up with copy points.

“Um…we’ve been in business 20 years…friendly, personalized service…we’re open 7 days a week…”

“Great,” said the rep. “I’ll give this to our writer.”

“Oh, can I add our website, follow us on Facebook…and our phone number.”

Yikes, the friggin’ phone number. Unless the last four digits are 50-50, or super easy to remember like…

feel free to sing it, longtime Toronto radio fans…967-11-11, phone Pizza Pizza, hey hey hey…

 

NEVER INCLUDE YOUR PHONE NUMBER IN A RADIO AD.

It’s 7 seconds out of 30 that should be used instead for persuasion, with a well-crafted script that intrigues, entices and explains the benefits of your products and services.

“What if I repeat the number? They do it on Howard Stern’s show.”

Then you’ve wasted 14 seconds. And you’re not selling boner pills or paying for 60 second ads that play after High-pitch Erik, Tan Mom or Sour Shoes.

Nobody is sitting by the radio with a pen & paper in hand, just in case there’s a deal so amazing they just have to call right now. Chances are they’re checking Facebook or feeding the cat.

Or driving. We want their eyes on the road!

Most people have the ultimate phone book at their fingertips. It’s called Google. Anyone without access to Google is likely in a nursing home, or still uses the actual phone book.

Suppose you sell flooring. Why would anyone need to call you if they’ve never set foot in your store?

“Hello, Jiffy Flooring.”

“Hi, do you sell carpet?”

“Yes.”

“Brown carpet?”

“Yes we do.”

“Great, I’ll be right over!”

“WELL, I’M NOT A WRITER”

So, the lesson is, don’t let the radio station put you on the spot by asking for ideas. You’re not the writer. Explain the benefits of what you sell, why it’s the best choice (other than cliches about the lowest prices and biggest selection) and what customers like about you.

A decent rep will draw that out of you.

A good writer will suggest ways to reshape what you’ve provided and ask followup questions. He or she will translate tech talk into relatable info and trim the fat.

“It’s winter and…this Christmas (really, not next Christmas?)…spring is just around the corner and…”

BACK TO THAT ORIGINAL “I JUST WANT THE COMMISSION” REP

Sure, you can have the announcer say your name over and over to fill 30 seconds because it…

Gets your name out there!

It’s not enough to just get your name out there.

As Dan O’Day said in a seminar I attended several years ago, when this not-so-well regarded man was still alive, Osama Bin Laden’s name is “out there.”

Maraca Media can create scripts for your business or station. Get started by emailing John:  johnnymaraca@rogers.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long live the public library!

“Who goes to libraries anymore?”

That question was posted on a Wasaga Beach news and commentary Facebook page,  adding to a long thread about the downtown plan and a proposed new location for our library.

The current one (pictured above) is tiny. Not “so small you have to go outside to change your mind” but cramped. The aisles are narrow and you’re constantly having to say “excuse me” or turning sideways to let a fellow reader pass.

The biography section is uncomfortably close to the computer station. I’m always back to back with a seated patron who’s taking advantage of free Internet. There are times when l feel like the manager of a call centre.

I’m not checking out whatever you’re checking out, honest!

YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’LL FIND

Despite all that, our library has a surprisingly good collection.

Since transitioning from radio employee to freelance writer, my morning routine has included a lot more reading time, from bios and self help books (like how to be a successful freelance writer) to popular fiction.

I always have a novel on the go.

Wasaga Beach lacks anything resembling a bookstore. Chapters is 45 minus away, in Barrie. You can only purchase books at Walmart, groceries and drug stores. Their selection is severely limited. Best sellers from the same 10 authors, or so it seems.

Then again, I’ve read almost every Stephen King story and few authors have been more popular than the man who gave us The Shining, It, Carrie and dozens more.

WHY THEY SELL TONS OF BOOKS

I’m not knocking Dan Brown, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, David Baldacci and others who top the best seller list year after year. They’re all masterful storytellers who keep us turning the page to find out what happens next.

Walmart can’t devote much space to books, and these days even flea markets have fewer vendors offering paperbacks. Over the years I’ve found many books at the Elmvale Flea Market. The pickings there were pretty slim during the summer of 2018.

Danielle Steel? Of course. She’s as perennial as bargain bed sheets, Harley Davidson t-shirts and cheap sunglasses, oh yeah!

David Mitchell? Not likely, even though Stephen King recommended “Slade House.”

So, guess where I found this one?

My local library.

For free.

Okay, you are required to take them back after 3 weeks (with the option to renew online), but we are so fortunate local libraries still exist.

And just a few blocks away!

Sure, I’ve ordered dozens of titles from Amazon but, even with the discounts that come with an annual subscription, that’s at least $10 spent on a book that will eventually collect dust.

My current, totally free checkouts are “Slade House” (I’m a third of the way through it…highly recommended), Rachel Kushner’s “The Mars Room” and this one by Naomi Klein.

It’s not fiction but a guide for surviving Trump, which makes it as scary as anything Mr. King could imagine.

Three great reads, for free.

The construction of our new, bigger and better library could be a few years away so that will mean many more hours of squeezing past my fellow story-loving residents, and trying not to appear like I’m hovering over those internet users, but so what?

Long live the local library!

 

 

 

Wasted words in a radio ad: “Mention this ad and save…”

 

In a 30-second radio commercial, you only have 75 to 85 words to persuade listeners that your store is worth visiting, or merely to plant an idea in their heads for future reference.

Never, ever include what Dan O’Day calls a radio coupon.

“Mention this ad and save 10% off your purchase,” or “Say you heard this message on (radio station) and receive a free gift.”

Ooh. A free gift! Cancel that appointment, you’ve got a store to check out!

During my nearly three decades as a copywriter, I’ve had this horrible script idea sent my way many, many times. I cringed, pleaded and fought against it! No, don’t make me include that line!

WHY NOT?

Experienced writers and sales reps know why clients do this.

It’s a test.

That car dealer, hardware store owner or salon manager isn’t convinced radio ads work and hey, here’s a great way to see if anyone actually hears mine!

Roy Williams, the Wizard of Ads, suggests using a loss leader approach and wrote, “Don’t confuse the loss-leader strategy with couponing. Generally, coupons appeal only to the lowest quality of customer. If you’re going to offer a bargain, do it openly. Your best customers–the relational ones–will be offended by the idea that some customers pay a higher price than others.”

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/159392

Randy “R.J.” Eldred is one of the top selling reps at Bayshore Broadcasting…has been for over 30 years…and R.J. has the ideal response to this all-too-frequent client request.

“Be one of the first 10 customers through the door and get $100 cash!”

The client is stunned. “I can’t do that!”

“Well,” R.J. says, “That’s the only way they’ll mention your ad.”

SO WHY DOES IT NOT WORK?

Customers are afraid they’ll encounter a teenager at the checkout who says, “What ad?”

It makes them feel cheap. It makes your business sound cheap, and desperate.

Consumers are bombarded with sales messages on radio, in print and online. Radio listeners don’t always tune in to the same station every day.

Your ad is an intrusion. They’re waiting for the weather, or the next song. Some fans are extremely loyal but many bounce along the dial from station to station (especially during those long commercial clusters).

Go back 30 years ago, just prior to my first radio job. I heard an ad that mentioned a tuneup special at the local Goodyear service centre.

I called them. Asked if their tuneup deal was still being offered. Sure, they said.

But…

I found out later that the radio commercial had been for the Firestone dealer.

It all worked out, and I ended up writing ads for both businesses.

WHAT MIGHT WORK INSTEAD?

Well, the $100 cash idea would be pretty much guaranteed to get the desired response but you’d go broke.

Does your dog or cat hang out at the store? “Say hi to Rex the bulldog!” If a new customer asks about Rex, bingo!

“Ask Bob about the salmon he caught.”

“Ask Dagny (just met a very charming Dagny so that unusual name is fresh in my head) about her trip to Mexico.”

At least you’ll be suggesting something they can relate to or feel good about, and being a well-liked business goes a long way in getting repeat visits and turning newbies into loyal customers.

THE BEST BET IS…

Forget any kind of “mention” or “ask” elements and focus on what does work. An opening line that intrigues the listener and addresses a problem or concern, followed by who you are, how you can solve their dilemma and why you’re their best option.

That takes repetition. Obviously I hadn’t heard the Firestone message often enough so all I remembered was the special.

Listeners recall bits and pieces and, according to the Wizard of Ads, need to hear a spot at least three times in a week for it to fully form in their minds.

Give your campaign time to do that!

Then, after a year, see if your sales figures went up compared to the previous year. Don’t put your writer or rep to a test that’s guaranteed to fail in the short term.

Be patient.

Mention this blog to a friend and you’ll receive…

my gratitude!!!!!!!!

 

 

Tay Tay and the lost power of persuasion

I’m getting carpal tunnel from the frequent clicking of the “hide” button on Facebook posts and scrolling past offensive memes and links from questionable sources.

Yes, I’ve composed political posts to express my frustration that the other side doesn’t get it and holy hell, if they only read my linked article they’ll see the light!

No. They won’t.

And, on the flip side, no, I won’t click on such posts.

So, why stay connected with folks who cause me to hide their posts? Maybe I think they are well meaning or just basically decent people who don’t share my views.

You do not want to be persuaded. You are set in your ways and thanks to social media, all you see is content that supports your views and attacks the other side.

Trying to convert anyone is a waste of key strokes. At least in terms of politics. Post another cat video. Give me your review of Bohemian Rhapsody.

I thought it was entertaining as a tribute to the music of Queen but as a biography…um…not that great.

Then again, what seems to bring the greatest satisfaction to keyboard warriors is being about to gloat over the enemy’s bewilderment and failures. Your guy lost, you idiot! How does it feel being such a loser?

COMING CLEAN

Okay, the photos and links below are slanted liberal because I have always voted Liberal or NDP. I grew up in Toronto and my first MPP was Stephen Lewis in Scarborough West. He set the bar so high for what I felt an elected representative should be and when my Dad was unemployed, Lewis met with my Father to help him out.

Dad found another job and I don’t know if Lewis played any kind of role in that, other than supporting his constituent, but I do know Joseph O’Mara thought the world of Stephen Lewis.

So…

If you’re conservative you may have called them “libtards” or dismissed them as no-nothing Hollywood elites and clueless singers.

Fair enough.

I find it harder to enjoy Cat Scratch Fever because of Ted Nugent’s political views. Love his music, the man…well, let’s move on.

SHAKE IT OFF, TAY TAY

Taylor Swift endorsed the Democratic senate candidate in Tennessee.

He lost, leading Stephen Colbert to say that Tay Tay didn’t have much sway sway. Good on Taylor for speaking out and trying but even a pop superstar couldn’t change political stripes or convince fence sitters.

If you follow Rob Reiner on Twitter you’ll get tweets about his movies but, to paraphrase his character from This is Spinal Tap, you’ll get more, a lot more.

Mostly anti-Trump rants.

As a small L liberal and someone who still feels like Trump’s election was just a bad dream…a really awful nightmare worthy of Stephen King (more on him later)…I have cringed, nodded, cursed and gnashed my teeth along with Reiner.

But he’s preaching to the converted.

Somehow I don’t see Republican supporters in Tennessee saying, “Hey, the director of ‘When Harry Met Sally’ can’t stand Trump, maybe I should rethink this!”

Katie Herzog wrote this terrific piece for The Stranger.

https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2018/11/08/35235992/why-do-white-women-support-republicans-because-they-are-republicans

The main point she makes is, Republicans will vote Republican based on their long-standing beliefs and the idea of women supporting each other based on gender alone is not realistic.

“White women are not a monolith. We don’t all know each other. We don’t all go to the same church or yoga class. Some of us, in fact, don’t go to church or yoga at all. 

And now, without further ado, not so constant reader, the master of horror fiction, Stephen King.

I’ve read almost every King novel and, as is the case with Rob Reiner’s tweets, I enjoy King’s constant ridiculing of his President. I mean, it’s Stephen Fucking King, why wouldn’t his tweets be awesome?

And again, preaching to the choir.

Whether it’s Tay Tay, Rob Reiner, George Clooney or Uncle Stevie (as King sometimes refers to himself) the reaction from the right is to be less of a fan or even boycott the artist.

“Clooney’s a dam libtard and he was a shitty Batman, too.”

George wasn’t well suited to be the Caped Crusader but even a super hero can’t change minds, especially closed ones.

TRU-DOPE

So, the next time you post a meme calling Justin Trudeau an idiot or think I should read a piece from an overly-conservative website or an out-and-out nutjob commentator or blogger, I’m hiding it.

If it is from a Facebook group that has “pride” at the end of its name, I’m hiding them as well. Stop pestering me with conspiracy theories and opinions masquerading as news.

I’m a journalism graduate. A big supporter of the media and that includes reputable conservative-leaning publications like The National Post and Macleans.

There’s a huge difference between a right wing paper or magazine that still employs dedicated, fact-checking journalists and educated pundits and the batshit crazy sycophants and propagandists at Fox News.

You aren’t going to change my opinion on politics. I won’t change yours, or even attempt to do so.

I’m not saying you should stop posting and ranting. It’s your right. You feel the need to vent and you’ll get plenty of support from like-minded individuals.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some animal rescue videos to watch.

« Older posts Newer posts »
%d bloggers like this: