Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Iced Coffee and Lazy Copywriting

McDonald’s has a radio spot running right now that drives me up a wall. The setting is a business meeting of some sort, and the chairman says “All in favor of taking a break for some iced coffee from McDonald’s, say Aye.”

A chorus of Ayes goes up, because honestly, who’s going to vote against any kind of break in the workday? The chairman then asks “All opposed?” and one lone guy says “Nay.”

There’s a brief pause, and then a voice that sounds like it belongs to a 12-year-old boy shouts “Get him!” The meeting-goers then turn into an angry mob and presumably thrash the guy who dared vote his conscience about the friggin iced coffee break.


Why is there a 12-year-old boy in this business meeting? And why, when the Ayes have clearly won the vote and the iced coffee break is all but written in the employee handbook, is the boy so vindictive?

Does he hate the man who voted No? Or is it just lazy copywriting without a shred of integrity?

Every time I hear this—which is pretty much every morning—it makes me glad I don’t write advertising copy for a living. Then I remember I do write advertising copy for a living and it makes me wonder if the guy who wrote the McDonald’s spot is making more money than I am.

Because if true, that would be wrong.

Actually it makes me think he’s got something on his creative director, some blackmail pictures or something. Because honestly, if you’re working on a high-profile account like McDonald’s and you can’t come up with anything better than “Get him!”, you might be in the wrong business.

One More Thing

Another quick story about the advertising business. My old boss back in Decatur used to sum up the agency/client relationship thus: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't keep him from pissing in it."

This is true. But sometimes you can't even get the horse's attention. From 1995-97 I did some freelance copywriting for clients in and around central Illinois, and when I wasn't busy (which was, sadly, most of the time), I'd go through the newspaper or listen to the radio, trying to find prospects in dire need of better creative. I'd then write them a letter, send them a brochure and demo tape, and ask to be given a crack at their next advertising project.

I didn't get a whole lot of business that way, but of all the business I didn't get, my favorite was a store that sold auto parts in downtown Decatur. These guys had run an ad in the Herald and Review that was not only hand-lettered and hand-illustrated with a pencil, but hand-erased as well. I mean the illustration was right out of Napoleon Dynamite's notebook, and you could see the erased lines in the newspaper ad itself.

I wrote and offered my services, but they didn't see the value in it. They were apparently quite happy with their in-house marketing department, eraser lines and all.

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