By Trent Rentsch
“Yes, hello? I’d like to speak to your owner please. Me? Oh, I’m the guy who produces your radio commercials… what? Ah, no. That would be your sales rep. He takes the information, gives it to me, and then I… he told you that he does it all? Gee, I’m stunned. Listen, may I speak to your owner?”
I am put on hold. Instead of the usual Windham Hill piano ramblings or on-hold propaganda, I am treated to Yoko Ono’s Don’t Worry, Kyoko. As the final wails assault my ears and I am wondering if her voice reminds anyone else of a Siamese cat in heat, someone picks up.
“I’m holding for the owner, Mister… oh, hello! Thank you for taking my call. As you know, I’ve been doing your radio commercials for some time now… what? Yes, I’m the voice, and the writer and… ah, no, your sales rep actually hands your information over to me and I take it from there. Really? Well, my real title is Creative Director, not Sales Assistant, but anyway, getting back to why I called… Hmm? Oh, yes, I can hold.”
This time it’s a rap band I don’t recognize, but I do notice that the tune they ripped off, er, sampled is Neil Diamond’s Forever in Blue Jeans. The Owner comes back on the line.
“Hi… no, no problem! It gave me a chance to hear your on-hold music, interesting mix… oh, from your own library? Well, that is really… ah… at any rate, I just had a few things to mention about the commercials we’ve been doing for you. What I’d like to suggest are a few ways that we can improve on their effectiveness. Yes? On no, I’m not saying that they’re bad! I’m just wondering if you’d be open to some tweaking. What kind of tweaking? (sigh) Well, for starters, I’m wondering if the phone number is in the copy too many times. Yes, yes, it really does ‘pound it in your brain.’ One thing I noticed, however, is that out of :60 seconds, your phone number takes up :37 seconds of the commercial. I’m just wondering if you might consider taking it out 2 or 3 times, so we’d have room for some of the new copy points you wanted to add… our sales rep told you that we could squeeze them in? Gee, actually the spot is already :62 seconds… huh? Sure, I can hold again.”
This trip to on-holdsville reminded me that you learn something new every day. I honestly didn’t know that Eartha Kitt and Tom Wait had done a duet session. I’m wondering if Prince knows about that cover of Raspberry Beret when the Owner returns.
“Oh sure, I understand… ordering lunch is important. So, as I was saying… what? Well, yes, there IS more than the phone number. Well, for instance, there’s that line about having the largest selection of CDs in the country; I think that might be exaggerating, isn’t it? Why? Well, I dropped by your store, and you DON’T CARRY CDs! No, it wasn’t the main reason I stopped, but even if it WAS! I just wonder if, as a furniture store, you might want to focus on furniture, you know? Uh huh, the same would go for the luggage you don’t carry. Also… YES, I’ll hold!”
It had been so long since I heard it, that it took me a minute to remember if Bert or Ernie sang Rubber Duckie. Then…
“Hi… oh, your pizza is there already? Right, I should have remembered Domino’s is right next door, we mention it twice in your ad. Say, while we’re talking, do you think we could dump one of those mentions? Oh, ok, I can see how that could mess up your discount. Listen, just a few other things… no, I don’t mind you chewing in my ear. There’s this line about convenient parking that I’d like to take out. Well, there are only two spaces and the delivery guys from Domino’s take them both up… I had to park 2 blocks away on the street, metered parking. What? Yes, I’m sure both spaces are open before Domino’s opens at 11, but you open at 10:30 and… no, I don’t think offering a free quarter for the meter is the answer, maybe we can just cut the line. Well, that would give us room for at least one of those new copy points, maybe the one about free delivery. It’s NOT free? Then why would you want to say it is? Yes, I have heard the phrase, ‘Get them in the door,’ but lying isn’t the best way to… no sir, I’m not trying to insult the way your company has done business since your Father opened its doors! Okay, okay, look! I am trying to help you out here! Your commercial is full of inaccuracies, a phone number nobody is going to remember much less call, and promises that you have no intention of delivering on! If you ever expect to gain customers you need to focus on what you CAN offer… make it compelling and honest, explain what makes your store unique… which I noticed when I was there means that you have the largest selection of retro ‘60s crap furniture that I’ve ever seen! And while you’re at it, make sure that when the listener hears about your ‘courteous salestaff,’ that they really ARE! I had one chew me out for sitting on a beanbag I was thinking about buying! Listen, I am here to help you be a success, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to hear the sales rep tell my boss that YOU said the commercial doesn’t work when YOU’VE set the whole thing up for failure! Oh, and if anyone does call your number, that stupid on-hold music is going to drive them away! Have a nice pizza!”
Yeah, I should’ve made that call. All except for the line about the music, Eartha Kitt and Tom Wait really rock.