Last week, my boss delivered exciting news. He asked me to write scripts for a series of TV commercials and radio ads that will be airing during some well-known shows, like Good Morning, America and The Today Show. Not exactly prime time, but not too shabby, either. Viewers could potentially be watching Al Roker one moment, and my television spot the next.
That’s the good news.
The bad news? These commercials will be airing in Bismarck, North Dakota. No matter how badly I’m tempted to call Bismarck “the Hollywood of the Great Plains,” that’s a real stretch and a whole bunch of wishful thinking, at best.
Still, the opportunity to write commercials is pretty damn cool, and a dream of mine. You can only write about sinus infections so many times before burning out, you know? I majored in Advertising in college and have taken courses in this stuff, but decided to pursue a different career when I graduated, so it’s taken me 22 years to actually put some of that knowledge to use. What a long, strange journey it has been.
In typical Mark fashion, I’ve let this assignment go to my head. I’m worrying about finding the perfect key grip, for example. I want to make sure the director has good qualifications. I even considered demanding a craft table for my cubicle, with a bowl full of nothing but blue and orange M&Ms, but thought that might be crossing the line just a bit.
And, I’ve apparently forgotten that these commercials will be airing in North Dakota.
“Question,” I asked Katie, the marketing coordinator who is working with the client on this campaign. “Is there enough of a budget to hire Leonard Nimoy?”
“Who’s Leonard Nimoy?” she responded.
Wait. Seriously?! So I turned to Nick, the regional manager who works directly with this client. “Is there enough of a budget to hire Leonard Nimoy?”
“Who’s Leonard Nimoy?” he asked.
Arrgghh! I forget how young my coworkers are. Clearly, none of them are Trekkies. I wouldn’t consider myself a Trekkie either, but I am at least familiar with Leonard Nimoy, and had come up with this high-concept idea based around the campaign tagline, You won’t believe your ears. It went something like this:
Woman: “Have you heard about the new business coming to town? You won’t believe your ears!”
Spock: “That’s highly illogical.”
Woman: “No, it’s true. And it’s out of this world! If you trust our new hearing clinic to take care of your healthcare needs, you’ll live long and prosper!”
CUE STAR TREK THEME MUSIC.
Anncr: “Bismarck: the final frontier. We’ve set out on a mission to boldly go where no one has gone before, and bring quality healthcare to North Dakota.”
Genius, right? Sadly, Nick informed me their budget precluded hiring any famous Hollywood actors. I had a backup script where ordinary North Dakotans were attending ComicCon and wearing fake Spock ears, but then I realized, North Dakotans don’t attend ComicCon. Roping events and steer auctions, yes. But not pop culture festivals. So I settled on a different angle that’s pretty corny (literally): two women are shopping in a grocery store and picking out ears of corn to place in their carts. One of them says “You won’t believe your ears,” they both notice all the corn in their shopping carts, and burst out laughing. I figure that’ll play well to the Midwestern mentality. North Dakotans think corn is funny, right?
It’s too bad these commercials aren’t airing in Fargo. I had a great idea involving a wood chipper and funny accents, but if they couldn’t afford Leonard Nimoy, I doubt they’d be able to hire Frances McDormand and Steve Buscemi.
So, this may not be the big time, but it’s a nice change of pace and will look great on my resume.
In other news, we’re two days away from the big work symposium – our annual conference in which I get to give a presentation on social media success. After a couple of practice runs I’m not as nervous about that as I had been, but it’s still going to be a lot of work over the course of three days, and I’ll have to give up a good portion of my weekend. In some small way I think there might even be moments where it approaches fun, or at least as much fun as you can have spending all day and half the night in the company of coworkers who don’t even know who the hell Leonard Nimoy is. Once the symposium is over, I’ll be able to relax. I’ve been so focused on both the wedding and the conference for months now that I’ve barely been able to breathe. Come Sunday I’ll be feeling much better, I’m sure, and will actually be able to look forward to the rest of the year.
Once the symposium starts I won’t have time for the blog until next week, so I’m wishing y’all a great weekend in advance.
- Spock’s Advice To A Teenage Girl Will Make You Cry (buzzfeed.com)
- North Dakotans to Neo-Nazis: ‘Not In Our Town’ (crooksandliars.com)