July 23, 2007


Honda Dealer Gets Into Ad Accident

Printing Gaffe Causes Every Scratch-Off Card to Award Grand Prize

By Jean Halliday

Published: July 23, 2007

It sure seemed as if Mr. Opportunity came knocking for residents of Roswell, N.M., last week. A lucky 30,000 of them received scratch-off tickets from their local Honda dealer that pronounced them all $1,000 grand-prize winners.

Except that potential $30 million payout was a printing error -- one that's forcing the agency behind the "Make an Offer" promotion to offer amends to would-be winners.

Jim Fitzpatrick, president of Force Media Group, Atlanta, said he knew within 15 minutes he had a problem with the Roswell Honda promotion his company handled. The dealership called him and said the first person who came in with a game piece last week had won the sole $1,000 grand prize, and called again 15 minutes later to say there were five more winners. [...]

For some reason, I imagine the next few hours were like that scene from Airplane, when Lloyd Bridges as Steve McCroskey says, "Looks like I picked the wrong week to give up sniffing glue."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:44 PM | Comments (2)

July 17, 2007

Mean What You Say, Say What You Mean

Boy, that would put politicians out of business. ANYway, a good little article from Ad Age's Eric Webber on the benefits of plain-speaking.

[...] The PR business is filled with some of the smartest, most innovative people I know, but they're too often overshadowed by the creators of language that only serves to reinforce the negative stereotype of the PR person as nothing more than an obfuscator.

I'm not saying that the local PRSA meetings have to become some sort of Algonquin Roundtable, but I do think it's time that we as an industry start holding ourselves to higher standards. We're supposed to be in the business of taking sometimes complicated issues and putting them into language that is easy to understand.

Instead, we're just as likely to take a rather uncomplicated message and put it into language so hard to understand that it ends up meaningless. More than ever, I think there is a need for style, wit and -- most of all -- clarity.

I once worked with a woman who had a habit of using the phrase "Which is to say...." For example: "The value is immeasurable, which is to say, it's hard to measure." That's an actual quote. Call me a simpleton (go ahead, I'm used to it) but if you are clear and direct, you only have to say what you mean once to get your point across. [...]

Of course, you could also take the Possumblog Path, which is to embrace the liberation that comes from realizing the complete and utter pointlessness of what you have to say.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:50 AM | Comments (5)

June 20, 2007

I have a suspicion.

Geico has been running ads on the front page of Yahoo! with their too-clever-by-half English yob gecko. I know you've all seen and heard the ads, but I believe I have stumbled upon something that points to a giant conspiracy, the exposure of which is bound to shake the insurance industry to its very roots!

I belive the Geico gecko is not really English.

[insert thundering dramatic minor organ chord]

Just look at this photo of him, shilling his goods:

geico ad.jpg

See it?

Look closer.

See what I see?

Of course you do--look:

geico ad enlarged.jpg

There's not one single English tea drinker in all of England who would be caught dead a) making tea with a tea bag in a cup, and b) LEAVING THE TEA BAG IN THE CUP!

It's obviously just some actor, and I bet if the truth were told, he's not even a real gecko.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:46 PM | Comments (2)

May 11, 2007

Hmm--that's something I'd not thought of before...

Just got a bit of lite spam (I've never told them to quit sending me stuff) from JC Whitney, well known purveyor of auto parts and accessories such as necker knobs and the Illuminated Chrome Plated Jester Hood Ornament.

The tagline on the e-mail?

"Mom Deserves Something Special!"

There followed a long list of things Mom would love to have, such as tire sealant, custom tailored nylon cut pile carpeting, 5 inch chrome plated mirrors--and the promise of an extra 10% off for orders over $75!

I wonder if my mom would enjoy a set of Cherry Bombs for her G35?

I think she probably would.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2007

Believe it or not...

...right now, right outside my window, are Sheryl Crow, Sofia Vergara, and Mariska Hargitay.

Well, not actually them, but great big pictures of them on the side of a tractor trailer.

Seems the "got milk?" folks are in town for a stop on their nationwide tour, but regrettably I will be unable to attend the festivities, seeing as how they have not yet perfected Diet Coke flavored milk.

I would be more than willing to visit, however, were Sheryl, Sofia, or Mariska actually here, maybe handing out samples or signing autographs or professing their undying love for slow-witted semi-arboreal North American marsupials.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:45 AM | Comments (15)

March 27, 2007

"Chaos", eh?

Well, whatever. It's interesting anyway--a long article from Ad Age's Bob Garfield talking about the disintegration and reinvention of the way people sell soap and razor blades to a mass audience. I barely understand any of it [okay, none of it], but it's still fascinating reading, and disturbing, too.

There seems to be quite a bit of happy chirpy sounds from Big Media types, but for some reason it sounds way too much like what you would imagine the conversation to be like, had the bewhiskered moneybags directors of the Amalagamated Federal Whale Oil Company and the Columbia Whale Oil Lamp and Whalebone Corsetry Company decided to rename themselves Pollyanna and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, donned pretty red sunglasses, and traipsed arm-and-arm through the graveyard whistling all the way.

In other words, they must be high from licking small-dog-sized Australian cane toads, or giddy that no matter what happens, they've got a nice buyout clause in their contracts.

As a consumer, I couldn't care less how these guys try to get me to buy something, but I can tell you right now that just because it's in a slick magazine or on TV doesn't mean anything. For better or worse, the Internet makes it a lot easier to shop and compare, and bad product will have a much harder time getting anywhere, and even bad product makers know better than to spend money where it'll do them no good. Again--eh, whatever. I just hope the guys in the article were simply lyng through their teeth about how pretty and shiny things are, and when they go back to work they're at it hammer and tongs to survive. Desperation tends to clarify things for folks.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:52 PM | Comments (4)

February 21, 2007

News You Can Use!

"Our message is that it is not a good idea to try to stuff a cat in a bag. It's a matter of common sense."

Well, obviously--unless it's sedated first, of course.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:22 AM | Comments (4)

February 14, 2007

Just seen.

An ad for Academy Sports and Outdoors:

The line "The Perfect Valentines Gift for Him or for Her" with a small graphic of a gift card beside it. Underneath, the tag line, "It doesn't get any sweeter than FREE shipping."

I thought about this for a second and I have to admit, it does sound pretty good. So I decided to get Reba some free shipping this year.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:02 PM | Comments (4)

January 29, 2007

Anyone want to hazard a guess...

...as to when one of these companies will sponsor a NASCAR team?

Just remember this: "a $6 billion market."

That, my friend, is a lot of money to spend on your nasty bits.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:07 PM | Comments (5)

January 19, 2007

"Professional" is our middle name!

Although I'm still not quite sure why I should care.

Saw a pest control truck on the way into work this morning with that tagline all over it, and it made me wonder why "'[insert name]' is our middle name" is considered to be all that informative or noteworthy or special or indicative of greatness. Most people, after all, don't go by their middle names (although I do)--in most cases, it's just there as a placeholder or there so we'll recognize the person being talked about on the TV is a criminal, who always have to have a middle name.

Anyway, if "professional" is so important, why not make it your first name. Or, maybe be like Cher, and make it your only name. Or if you insist of having a middle name, make all three of them "professional."

Or maybe I just need to keep my eye on the road and quit looking at pest control trucks.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:22 PM | Comments (4)

January 09, 2007

Wow, that's lame.

I don't read much, but from what I have managed to absorb, Time magazine's decision to honor me (and you, and you, and all of you, and you, too!) as its Person of the Year has been greeted with either hostility or indifference, with even the most kind remarks being tepid in their endorsement of the idea of the shiny plastic mirror-covered non-story.

Apparently, there is no idea so lame that it can't be ripped off by others who can't quite be convinced of the feebleness of the initial idea.

Thus, we have Ad Age's proclamation of the Ad Agency of the Year as...

The Consumer.

Yes, YOU! And ME! Now we have TWO things to put on our resumes!

Anyway, in the spirit of things, I hereby announce the Blogger of the Year as YOU!

The Scientist of the Year?


Truck of the Year?


Horse Breed of the Year?


Planar Lattice Walks in Restricted Regions of the Year?

That's right--YOU!


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:14 PM | Comments (8)

December 05, 2006

Yummy spam.

Every once in a while I'll read it, just for the entertainment value. This one was for something akin to Hai Karate--

"Once women smell your [brand deleted to prevent even more spam] Pheromones they will jump out of the plane to you."

Well, a) I already have enough women, thank you, and b) if I didn't have any, I really don't think I'd want one who was a big pile of mush after jumping out of a plane to me.

"Women will stick to you like flies to honey if you use [same brand, same deletion] Pheromones."

Again, it might sound good to someone out there, but the idea of a woman becoming attached to me and dying a slow horrible death as she tries to wriggle free from my sticky sweet embrace isn't really all that romantic. Especially if she's got great big compound eyes and bristly hairs all over her body.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2006

You all probably already know about this...

...but I don't think I ever recall running across this site before, and it's a treasure trove of mid-20th Century advertising images, from the unexpectedly elegant to the frightfully hideous, and the downright disturbing.

(H/T to Black and White)

OH, and from a related site, this.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:57 PM | Comments (2)

October 04, 2006

I suppose this means...

Express Oil picks new ad agency

...the death of Otis the Possum. (Backstory here, and here, and here, and here.)

I suppose it was good while it lasted--a possum out there mixing it up with the other corporate icons and such. Aside from him being more ratlike than possumy. And aside from the whole idea seemingly arising from some ad guy's fever dreams from that wild time in Ensenada. And aside from the fact that it just was dumb. But still--possums don't get a lot of attention in the advertising world, so maybe it will give other possums a boost for future ad work.

My only hope is that they at least have the decency to send him on his way to the big ad mascot home in the sky in an appropriate way.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:07 AM | Comments (3)

August 03, 2006

Did You Look At Your Garters This Morning?

Was perusing the Library of Congress' American Memories website, and found a silly bit of mid-1920s social commentary about advertising.

"All Wrong" by Richard Connell is a short piece of farcical fiction which pokes fun at posters on New York City's subways. The author shows how subway ads stimulate feelings of fear and social insecurity in those who read them.

You can start reading it here.

I'll admit I had never heard of Richard Connell before, but according to his Wikipedia entry, he was quite the well-known sort, and was even nominated for an Academy Award for his story that was used for Capra's Meet John Doe. In fact, he wrote a BUNCH of stories--it seems his 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game" was the most enduring, though. Eight different movies used it, the latest being Lethal Woman in 1989. 1987's Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity sounds like a good one, too.

Anyway, I have a meeting to attend now, so all of you amuse yourselves with the amazing variety of stuff out there.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2006

Pizza Delivery Guy!

Subtitled, The Law of Unintended Consequences

Remember the first part of the week when I recounted the story about having to give the Papa John's delivery girl directions to the house? NO!? Hmph!

Well, I DID write about it, and I got to thinking about it afterwards. "I wonder," I said to myself, using the little quiet voice in my head, "if there's a way to suggest to them that they print out some maps to the customer's house along with each order?" Of course, all the other voices had a BIG uproarious laff at my quiet voice's expense, but the quiet voice got together behind their backs with my fingers, and they went off and found that there is indeed a customer feedback section to Papa John's website.

Of course, there is the obligatory dash of cold water, i.e., reality, before you get there:

Unsolicited Ideas

Thank you for your interest to share an idea for a product or service that you believe would be beneficial to Papa John's. Please know, however, that it is Papa John's company policy not to consider unsolicited ideas from anyone other than our corporate employees, franchise owners/employees, and our supply partners.

It’s not that great ideas cannot come from our valued customers. Each year, however, Papa John's receives thousands of unsolicited ideas for products and services. Due to the mass volume of these unsolicited ideas and the business challenge of determining what is truly a “new” idea versus a concept that we already have in development, being tested, or previously considered, we must adhere to our strict policy not to accept or review any unsolicited ideas that come from outside our system.

As a result, we must decline your invitation to review your idea, and hope you can understand and appreciate our business reasons for making this company decision. We do, however, greatly appreciate your interest in Papa John's.

Not being one to take "no" for an answer, nor, for that matter, being all that great at understanding plain English, I figured it couldn't hurt to go ahead and make my suggestion anyway.

So, I wrote and told the highly condensed version of the story--I ordered online, liked it, but found it odd that the driver had to call for directions, and suggested they might like to explore some way of printing out maps to go with the order so it's easier on the driver. Punched the Send button, and promptly forgot about it.

Nothing quite like short term memory loss!

IMAGINE MY SURPRISE, when Chet the E-Mail Boy checked my inbox this afternoon, and found that I had been sent a response to my suggestion!

From: [Name redacted ]@papajohns.com
To: terryoglesby@gmail.com
Date: Apr 12, 2006 1:11 PM

Subject: Re: Feedback acknowledgment

Dear Terry,
I apologize for the inconvenience as you shouldn't have been called for directions. I am forwarding your comments on to the appropriate personnel for their review. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience.
[name and title redacted, although he's pretty high on the food chain if you go by titles ]

DANG! Although I REALLY was impressed someone from the company wrote back, I wasn't angry about what happened, and didn't want to get anyone gigged for calling me. Especially since she was cute.

IN HASTE, I sped a reply back to him trying to keep the home town team from getting mad at ME and spitting on any future pizzas I might order from them:

No problem at all--it wasn't really an inconvenience for me and I
found it rather humorous, and the driver was very apologetic for the perceived trouble to me.

On the other hand, it does seem like there's an opportunity to better integrate online mapping with your ordering system. Maybe even something you could exploit in ads--hapless Domino's driver blundering around looking for an address, while the Papa John's crews happily scoot straight to the house using handy customized maps that are generated when you order online.

ANYway, I wasn't upset, and hope that the local folks don't get too much of a thrashing.

Yours, etc.

ANNnnnd promptly forgot about it.

Nothing quite like short term memory loss!

BUT, not two minutes later, that electronic pizza guy was BACK, and this time with this:

From: Same Guy
To: Terry Oglesby
Date: Apr 12, 2006 1:43 PM
Subject: Re: Feedback acknowledgment

I like the idea with the Dominos driver and think I'll pass that on. It would make for a good ad.

Name Redacted
Title Redacted
Phone: redacted
Fax: redacted

WOW! Got an actual phone number!? Now I'll call him when my pizza's late!

Now then--this is obviously kinda neat, especially if this takes off and becomes a big hit and makes all the other pizza joints look bad. Just as obvious, I needed to be sure I looked after my own interests in this matter. It is, after all, all about me. So, just to show what a shrewd negotiator I am, I sent this along to my new buddy:

Just remember--if the powers that be like the idea, I want free pizza FOREVER!
(Only joking--sorta.)

And promptly forgot about it.

Anyway, it would be cool if they did do something with my idea. I've even got the slogan for them: "Papa John's--Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, and BETTER DIRECTIONS!"

Now then, if I can just figure out a way to get Cornatees into their delivery menu...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:19 PM | Comments (6)

March 16, 2006

A Commission!

I knew if I kept hinting at it, someone would finally hire me for my incredible architect skills!

Dr. Jim Smith, well-known professor (although not quite so much as Roy Hinkley, Jr.), made the following suggestion:

[...] Having trouble with the internets thingy today-- especially the mu.nu world. Also the nap slowed me down-- I'm learning that real good. I might even open a Dr. Jimbo's Nap and Laziness Center. If I added beer drinking I think men would like me better 'n that ol' Dr. Phil.

I thought this sounded pretty good (although I don't know any man who really likes Dr. Phil), and after suggesting he could outfit the place with La-Z-Boy recliners (in keeping with the theme of the joint), my client wrote back with this:

Could you design us a functional but comfortable building that would appeal to men-- I assume some women would be clients but not many. I like modern but I saw your screed on upkeep and this is a center for the study and propagation of advanced laziness. You could be the first test case if I could get you to realize that come Sunday morning, the sun will still come up regardless of what you did the day before.

Well, obviously that last part is just flat wrong, but as for the rest of it, let's do a little exercise and see if we can program--


Okay, first thing--locationlocationlocation. I have always thought that all that land in the medians of the Interstates would be the perfect place to put a building. Easy to get to by car (seeing as how laziness precludes walking anywhere), scenic, soothing sounds of traffic flowing by, no neighbors to come by and borrow stuff when you're right in the middle of a good dream, regular yard maintenance by state highway department crews or prison inmates, and occasionally neat stuff falls off of trucks and rolls into your yard.

Next, the building envelope--although Dr. Jimmy thinks I have an aversion to modern architecture, I don't really as long as it weathers nicely without having to be fixed and pestered with all the time. I figure a nice plain unfinished concrete framework with big expanses of self-cleaning glass. The concrete doesn't really need regular upkeep, and the glass lets you look out and see the great outdoors without actually having to get up and go outdoors.

Inside, there will be a ground floor parking garage, with elevators at each parking space to gently whoosh you up to the main level, where robot attendants will pick you up and carry you over to your favorite armchair over floors that are nice and smooth and easily cleaned by fleets of Roombas. After you've settled in to your chair--which will be equipped with a mini-refrigerator, individualized climate control, and a built in computer terminal/television/radio/rocket launcher--you may lean back and enjoy not doing anything productive.

Now then, since I'm lazy and don't want to do anything else on the project, you're all free to offer your own suggestions for additional features.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:51 PM | Comments (5)

December 07, 2005


Coke to launch coffee-infused Coke Blak

Obviously, Pepsi will come up with something like Pepsi Noir. Then Coke will add lime. And Pepsi will add hazelnuts and lemon. And then Coke will offer a fully sugarnated version called Coke Blak Power. And then a diet version called Coke Blak Light. And then Pepsi will offer Pepsi Coffee-free, with all the flavor of coffee, but no actual coffee. And with the great flavor of cherry-vanilla. Then Coke will come up with Sprite Arabica Blast Thirst Quencher with Mango Chutney and Walnut Hulls. And then Pepsi will counter that with Uncoffee 7-Up with Eucalyptus and Echinacea.

I hope.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:06 PM | Comments (4)

November 21, 2005

What would you like to wager...

Nike Corporate Jet Makes Safe Landing

...that there's already a television commercial in the works?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2005

Things I am tired of...

1. Hand held cameras. In EVERY. SINGLE. COMMERCIAL. You know, the black and white indy Super 8 documentary film genre should have long been dead by now. I know the whole idea is to give it that Barton Fink Real Live People Feeling, but, enough. You can buy cheap cameras now that compensate for all that weaving and bobbing, and to sit there and go out of your way to bounce the camera around for stupid commercials for carpet cleaning or life insurance is pretty ridiculous. There are crack addicts who can hold a camera steadier than some of these commercials. It's distracting, and meaningless, and beyond cliched, and I want you all to stop it right now.

2. Animated bugs for various bodily maladies. I am tired of every single drug now being given vaguely anthropomorphic disease avatars to fight--we've got them for toe rot, for fart gas, for boogers, and the most recent one I saw was for migraine headaches. Heaven help us if they start up with little animated bugs for sufferers of the clap.

3. This stupid obsession with car makers trying to make it seem like EVERYONE drives their vehicle. Latest iteration being the stupid commercial with hulking sleeveless wonder Toby Keith, who stops his intro "Built Ford Tough" song after only a few notes to announce that someone driving a Ford truck has left his lights on. The auditorium clears out except for the two gay redneck guys who had been pestering him in an earlier commercial about his "frame." (wink wink).

Anyway, what exactly does this really mean? That Ford truck drivers are so completely idiotic that they ALL leave their lights on? That the person who noticed the lights on couldn't at least narrow things down by noting the color and license plate number? That someone's lights being on is much more important than a Toby Keith concert? (Well, that one I might be able to buy.) It is a mystery. But I wish they'd stop it.

Of course, it's still not as illogical as the Toyota commercial where apparently everyone in the store seems to have parked their Corolla in a no-parking zone. Grr.

4. Finally, whoever is up on the 6th Floor using a hammer drill on the floor, I'm growing weary of that. The noise is highly annoying, and I keep hearing stuff falling on the backside of the ceiling tiles.

Okay, I suppose that's it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:49 AM | Comments (2)

July 14, 2005

Apparently, everything makes you fat...

Food makers warned on high-fat snack ads.

Who knew advertising even had fat in it!? I always figured that at least the print ads would have fiber content going for them.

Shows what I know.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:34 PM | Comments (2)

May 23, 2005


I don't know how many of you might have noticed it, but the last post I did about Otis the Driving Possum received a comment from none other than Norb Stracker--THE Norb Stracker of the world-famous Kansas City supergroup, Simply Weasels!

Norb fills us in on a few details of what transpired with the music for the ad, and as an added bit of information, gives us an autographed photo of Otis AND his acting bio! WHY IS THIS NOT ON THE EXPRESS OIL CHANGE WEBSITE?! It is a mystery.

But, I do understand now where that flat Midwestern tone of Otis's comes from--his bio says that although he lives in Birmingham, he was originally from Chicago. Of course, people from Chicago sound like people from Chicago and not like other Midwesterners, but I suppose the years down here have knocked some of the edges off his voice.

The whole bio is kinda cute--I assume the ad agency did this as part of their character development, but it sure would have been NICE TO HAVE INCLUDED SOME OF THIS IN THE ADS!

Anyway, many thanks to Norb for dropping by and taking a moment to leave a comment and for the helpful information--helping to further clear up the Mystery of Otis!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:18 PM | Comments (1)

May 19, 2005

Let's just hope they don't enlist a giant possum puppet.

Wendy's to Focus on Irreverence in New Ads

That's nice. Although, some might question the choice of wording:

Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Still searching for an effective advertising message since the death of founder and pitchman Dave Thomas, Wendy's International Inc. on Thursday served up a new series of ads that replace his folksy appeal with a hearty side of irreverence. [...]

In one of the TV ads, which begin airing Wednesday, a woman dunks her head in a fish tank and a man drinks from a sprinkler, both apparently searching for relief from the restaurant's spicy chicken sandwich. A voiceover says, "If you can't stand the heat stay out of the chicken." [...]

Ahem. Well, alrighty, then, if that's what you want. But I think the double-entendre potential is not NEARLY so rewarding as was, "Where's the Beef."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2005

Otis Speaks!

Yes, yet another meaningless critique of a minor regional television spot featuring a large non-human mammal. The Express Oil Change, Giant Not-A-Rat-But-A-Possum campaign has a new commercial! Which I think is better, but only because we are told the name of the beast is Otis, and we get a little information from him about why he takes his car to Express Oil.

Otis (whose name we knew beforehand only by a very deliberate search on the Internet through various ad biz sites and some lucky guessing) has a nice little conversation with one of the technicians about car care and bumps knuckles like the best buds they are. Otis has a very mild, Midwestern tone to his voice--which means the weird rap song of the other commercial "I'm Gonna Get My Oil Changed (Today)" is not intended to be Otis singing.

Anyway, this seems like it would have been a better commercial to have debuted the character, mainly because we at least get to hear his name, and that he can talk. Still, however, there is no backstory about the horrifying industrial accident that transformed a mild-mannered chemical plant worker into a giant marsupial, nor why it was determined that a possum is the best choice for clutter-breakthrough.

AND, probably worst of all, there is absolutely no leverage for the character. The corporate website has no mention of it, and there are no stuffed Oti (with bendable prehensile tail and opposable toe thumbs) in the customer waiting area for little kids to beg for--PLEASE MOM TAKE THE CAR TO EXPRESS OIL CHANGE SO I CAN GET AN OTIS!--no guys dressed in Otis costumes standing on the roadside beckoning travellers to come get their oil changed, no interviews on local television, no "Meet Otis Day" at the grocery store. Hey, if you're going to do something, do it right. Swing for the fences, you know?

I do hope in future commercials we find that there is a Mrs. Otis, and that they have a big litter of babies, and that Otis brings in the car one day and the babies are all hanging by their tails from one of those clothes rods you hang across the back seat. That would be pretty cool. Although, given the climate of the times, some moron would probably complain that the babies weren't buckled into an approved child safety seat.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:56 AM | Comments (2)

May 13, 2005


You remember my little screed the other day about the giant Express Oil rat? Of course you do. Or not.

Anyway, someone came Googling by around 9:30 this morning, looking for rat express oil commercial. Possumblog was the first returned result (yay for me), and then I got to wondering if there might be some other searches that would come back with Possumblog. I typed in possum "express oil" , and in an astounding bit of Internet serendipity, saw a blog for a young man who is an actor.

And guess what?

He had tried out for a part as one of the technicians in the commercial! AND THE SOLUTION TO THE MYSTERY (or, at least, it starts to become more clear)? It IS supposed to be a possum!

Read all about it here, where our actor says he ad-libbed a bit with the director:

[...] I had to play straightman to a little possum. His name is Otis and he's a longtime customer who wears a hat, smokes a cigar and deftly maneuvers a car. [...]

The director asked if I thought Otis' meticulous attention to detail was overbearing.

"I don't mind if he points out things that need attention. It just makes my job easier. Strange, though. Possums aren't really known for their eyesight."

And to the question of whether Otis gets special treatment.

"Please, I'd treat anybody at Express Oil with the same 5-star quality service as Otis. Of course, possums have litters of 6 to 10, so I look at that as a continuing customer base. If they all survive."

I am not certain why they chose an animal as their new spokesthing that has a violent history with the automobile industry. [...]

Heh. Indeed. And kinda similar to my thinking before.

But, back to this character of "Otis." So, he IS a possum, but he's supposed to wear a hat and smoke. Well, the commercial didn't have him smoking, and I'm sure the ad agency (about more, in a minute) probably didn't think smoking rats clinicked well. But you know, if you're a possum, you're living on borrowed time anyway. I think they need to let him be a woozy Dean Martinesque martini-supial out for a good time before he bites the big one. But even if you live on the edge, car maintenance is still VERY important, you know.

Anyway, if you look at the storyboard photo that accompanies our actor's notes, you see that in the top handdrawn picture, Otis is the size of a regular possum. He's tiny--he's there in the bottom right corner, next to the crudely drawn Jimmy Tech. (Geez, I could be making a mint.) In any event, he's no giant rat.

BUT, what of this Otis fellow. Who thought up this gem!?


In moments, I found this excerpt from the May 3, 2005 edition of AdWeek:

May 03, 2005 -Jim Lovel

ATLANTA Luckie & Co. is launching a new television campaign for Express Oil Change and Service Centers next week that will introduce Otis, an opossum, as the company's spokescharacter, the shop said. [...]

[...] "In a category where we are outnumbered and outspent, our goal was to find a way to break through the clutter and the obvious choice was with an opossum," said Brad White, the independent Birmingham, Ala., shop's executive creative director. [...]

[...] Campaign spending is undisclosed. [...]

The obvious choice to break through the clutter is with a possum, eh?

"Breaking through the clutter," (which sound an awful lot like Comin' Through the Rye) is laudable. But how do I know this is a possum named Otis? It's not anywhere on the Express Oil website, and it's not mentioned in the ad. You know the only way most of the people who might be wondering about this commercial are going to know it's named Otis?

Through blogs like this!

Is that REALLY the way you want to control your message?! Why not have the possum with his own little website? It would make it a darned sight easier to figure out, and there could be things for kids (like little stuffed Otisessesses), and car care tips, and funny possum lore, and MAYBE SOME EXPLANATION OF WHAT'S GOING ON. And it's inexpensive, compared to teevee spots.

To go back, though--what, exactly, makes a slow-witted, nocturnal, semi-arboreal, omnivorous scavenging marsupial the ideal candidate for breaking through the clutter?

What sort of clutter are we talking about? You come in, you get your oil changed.

You know what would help your message? If your client's stores were clean like they used to be when they first started in the business. If they wouldn't try to convince me EVERY TIME I COME IN that my transmission fluid is discolored and burnt up. That when they do safety checks, and I KNOW I have two bad tires, if they don't just check the box saying "Tires Okay." That their A/C technicians don't look at everything with a bewildered look as if they've never before laid eyes on a car before. If "Express" meant 10 minutes, like it used to mean, rather than twenty. Or thirty.

Mystery mammal, for what it's worth, solved. What remains mysterious is if you're being outspent by your competitors, why waste so much money on something so entirely inscrutible.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:32 PM | Comments (3)

May 10, 2005

Speaking of big ugly animals...

Got another commercial that gives me the heeby-jeebies. It's for Express Oil Change, a regional quick-oil-change outfit. They're good folks--we usually take our cars there, and it's generally pleasant. (They used to be more conscientious, though.) Anyway, they generally have pretty innocuous commercials. For a while there, former Miss Alabama and Miss America Heather Whitestone was a spokesqueen for them, although I never quite understood why. But, she's pretty, so who cares.

But here lately, there's something else ENTIRELY.

A rat.

Not a little rat, like Stewart Little, but a gigantic, the-size-of-a-small-child white rat. Comes tooling down the road hanging his head out the driver's window of a full-size car, pulls into the Express Oil Change, drives into the bay, nods pleasantly to the attendant, hops out dressed in a red sweater and khakis, looks carefully at oil being drained, is a big helper and hands a guy a wrench, nods and agrees some more with another guy. And the entire time, not a single person seems to have a moment where he says to himself, "HOLY MOTHER OF EARL, IT'S A GIANT WHITE RAT DRIVING A CAR!"

I mean, such things around here are USUALLY enough to get the offending rodent beaten to death with a shovel or a bad case of lead poisoning from the wrong end of a 12 gauge, but all the oil change guys are just blithely acquiescing to the demands of their giant rodent overlord.

And I just have to ask myself, "HuhWHAT?!"

It's a puppet rat, and not a particularly cute one like Stewart Little (it actually looks more like a possum--which might have some ironic appeal since possums are usually the ones on the bad end of anything dealing with cars), and he's not handled particularly well by the puppeteers or production company or whoever, and he doesn't talk in a cute cartoon voice like a Muppet--he's just a big derned mute rat.


What does this say about Express Oil Change?

That regular car maintenance will turn you into a yellow-toothed plague-carrier? Is it supposed to be a sly pop-culture reference to the late Ed"Big Daddy" Roth's immortal "Rat Fink" character?

Or is there someone so smart out there they've managed to hoodwink a client with some storyboard idea about a furry fun character--you know, like Mickey Mouse--who can drive--you know, like Fozzy Bear, or that cute gecko--and he has to get his oil changed, because that's what oil change places do, and, and...

Boy, it's a stupid commercial.

And darned disturbing at 5 a.m.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:04 PM | Comments (11)

April 06, 2005

It's spreading, apparently.

We continue to have more of the creepy, off-putting Burger King commercials with the guy in the plastic head who shows up in very personal settings, but I saw a new one last night for another company.

Quaker Oats.

The Quaker guy's not live, but he's a life size Quaker guy mannequin who stands there holding a serving tray of Quaker Oat snacks of some sort.

It wouldn't be so bad except they keep focusing on his creepy, enigmatically smiling plastic face, just like the Burger King commercials. Standing there in someone's house. On a playground. Sticking up through a car sunroof.

All the time with a look on his face that says, "I live in your pantry, and at night, while you sleep, I come out and quietly stand beside your bed, and have thoughts of renouncing my pacifistic Quaker beliefs, and stabbing you with a fork."

Please--if you are in the ad industry, these commercials DON'T make me want to buy your food. Sure, they create "buzz," which I promise you isn't really that helpful after you've gone bankrupt by alienating potential customers.

No. More. Weird Freakish Plastic Head Guys.

Thank you.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:46 AM | Comments (6)