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How Much Does it Cost?
By: Brian Keller
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Marcus Bailey Advertising is one of the great shops in the country. It has offices on a bunch of continents and Texas and is fully integrated with expert staff in all the disciplines. Marcus Bailey has been kind enough to allow BMA to be a fly on the wall at a number of important junctures. This week’s reality column is culled from a discussion at the lovely Connecticut home of Executive Creative Director M. L. Lee (a new import from South Africa) and his uber-talented wife and expert home stager, Dakota.   

The home is in the exclusive suburb of Bland, where every new family gets a new blonde baby upon acceptance to the club.  

All dialogue between M. L. and his wife Dakota has been overheard:

M. L.: “Well, after Graham and those Buggers screwed up Angel Paste, I’ve ridden in on my white steed, as it were, to save the account.”
Dakota: “White steed?"
M. L.: "It’s a metaphor."
Dakota: “How about a simile? No one uses them anymore.”
M. L.:  “Take a look at our new commercial, which has been imagined by me and helmed by me and is perfectly positioned to sell Angel Paste to the masses, by me.”
Dakota: “What if it doesn’t sell toothpaste?”
M. L.:  “I have a number of Creative Directors who have Creative Directors to blame. We can also blame account services. It’s always their fault anyway.”
Dakota: “Good thinking. I’ll watch, but I have a parenting class at 9:30 a.m. Then I have to drop the kid off somewhere, and then I have Pilates, Yoga, Kickboxing, and a cleanse. “
M. L.: “Lights off. And, we’re rolling.”

The mini focus group continues for 30 seconds.

Dakota: “It was nice.”
M. L.: “Nice? That’s it? What do you mean, nice?”
Dakota: “It’s a television commercial.”
M. L.: “It’s mini cinema that will have uses across many, many platforms and will affect how people look at their teeth and whether they will have an opportunity to mate and continue civilization. It’s that important to humanity. Also, we have Facebook pages, contests, a thirty million dollar media spend and 100 people across our system working only on this account, and you call it nice.“
Dakota: “Really nice. The part where that chick comes running down the aisle between the people who are staring at the giant screen and the guy in black while swinging the toothpaste hammer is weird. Why did she smash the screen?”
M. L.:  “She’s smashing tooth decay and teeth that aren’t white enough to attract a mate. We were going after the coveted 18–35 demo.”

Dakota: “What about the other people?”
M. L.:  “The young ones have baby teeth so we can’t scare them yet. Anyone older is starting to sag and we don’t care about his or her teeth. They have probably mated and are being examined by us in our UX/Paranoia Division.”
Dakota: “Oh...how come it switches to a pool party with impossibly good looking people who have filled the pool with Vodka and are skateboarding into said pool from a 30-foot ramp?”
M. L.:  “It’s subliminal beauty. Once your teeth are Angel Paste clean you will be invited to parties where you will have your pick of a multi-national, multi faceted, multi-racial, extremely wealthy, and impossibly good-looking constituency from which you can pick any one person for mindless sex at any time. “
Dakota: “Oh, I see. So at the end of the commercial, the pouty blonde with the really nice lips who is sucking on a Popsicle in the corner…”
M. L.: “...is going to do it with the very no body hair and muscular dirty blonde guy who is about to throw her in the pool. Brilliant.”

Dakota: “How much does it cost?”
M. L.: "The commercial? Not a lot, as I had to fly business class. I really can’t say. We did shoot for a month and had Banksy do the titles."
Dakota: “The toothpaste. How much does the toothpaste cost? What’s it's name? Angel Soft? Charmin?"
M. L.: “Angel Paste! Cost? What kind of question is that? This is a brand position, a statement, a call to arms for teeth. This is meant to emotionally connect the user to the brand for life or until the user gets too old and we stop marketing to them. “
Dakota: “I buy what’s on sale at Big Lots. Everything’s the same. It all works the same. Why don’t you make a commercial that says: 'Angel Paste: It’s the same as everything else and you can get it cheap at Big Lots'? You wouldn’t even need people. You could tell people to go to the Internet and get a coupon. I would watch that commercial. I would buy Angel Paste. Then you could use the same commercial over and over and just switch out the name and put in detergents, soap, shampoo, and all kinds of stuff. Now that would be smart, and you could save money at your agency on all this shooting and stuff. Isn’t Acura a fancy name for Honda?”
M.L.: “You just don’t get branding. You’re disconnected.”
Dakota: “I’m connected to my money.”
Are we missing a demo here? Things aren’t too great right now, and there are discussions all over about cost and parity and household budgets. Big Lots, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, etc. have stormed into the consciousness of many households. Target sells groceries and has had to remind people that there are bargains to be had not only in fashion, but in food. Branding is great. Emotion is great. Multifaceted campaigns are great. But there are many people just like Dakota who are not lacking for money and many like the average non-Pilates-going folk who are lacking funds, and they're asking:

“How much does it cost?”

So, would it be a bad idea to mention money throughout every tier of advertising or maybe get rid of some upper tiers? Maybe we could do the unthinkable and try some utilitarian approaches.

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About the Author
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at teeny agency in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies), & attends University of Baltimore School of Law.

Brian's been working primarily in the digital space for years but enjoys all communications avenues.

He has built the creative departments at two agencies.

He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence.

Find him online here and at www.teenyagency.com.
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