Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Shout it Out

Yesterday I shared a tale about a company (General Mills) that was too cheap to send us enough product for their own TV commercial so we had to go out and buy Raisin Nut Crunch and sell it back to them. Today, I’ll share a slightly different take on the behind-the-scenes world of TV advertising.

A few years ago we were hired to make a pair of TV spots for Shout Carpet Cleaner. It was a nice job- two or three production days and a couple of more days to build the set- plus a day of watching grape juice dry and getting paid for it. (When you do product comparison commercials there is a lot of attention paid to the legal end of things. Here we compared Shout to “the other leading brand" (Resolve) as “real people” tried to get dried grape juice stains off of white carpet. To make the test legal, the day before shooting a scientist from SC Johnson and Dan Dreesen, our ace prop master, poured exact amounts of grape juice on carpeting. The stains had to sit and dry over night to make the test valid and Jim and I had to sign affidavits agreeing to the above.)

It ain’t exactly like working in a coal mine this film business.

The shoot went great, lots of real women being amazed by how great Shout worked. It was one of those shoots where everything we did went as planned. As we worked through the first day of production Dan came up to us and said he had a problem. The prop bottles of Shout the agency supplied were beginning to crack. He was able to rig a workaround but we had to be careful how the women handled the bottles.

The next week Jim and I did the edit, Two spots cut to a re-written version of the song “Shout.” They turned into two great little commercials AND the product worked great too. Win Win, right?


It turned out the problem we discovered in the packaging while shooting was the fatal flaw. To make the product work affectively, the bottle needed two chambers to hold the different “ingredients” that make up Shout. That configuration stressed the spray nozzle and the bottles gave out.

So after millions of dollars of development money and thousands more on marketing- including our fees- SC Johnson pulled the plug.

Next a company that had so much product we couldn’t give it away.


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