Paint it Black (and White)

My latest weight loss motivation centers around a portable DVD player I’ve rigged to a treadmill in my garage.   I only allow myself to watch DVD’s if I’m moving.   I find it takes my mind off of all the heaving, sweating, and sobbing that usually accompany my exercise workouts.

Recently, I received a video collection of the four Rolling Stones appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show.   Not just their song performances, but the complete shows.    One hour time-capsules of puppets, contortionists, folk dancers, and, of course, poor Ed in all of his uncomfortable glory.   Best of all, each episodes contained original commercials.

One 1966 episode struck a chord with me.   After years of broadcasting in black and white, this show was presented in vivid living color, and the difference was remarkable.   Set designers and costumers didn’t skimp on color in the mid 60’s.   They reveled in the new medium.   It was an explosion of color and light and sound and excitement.

And then it was time for…”a word from the sponsors.”     First:  This groovy piece of 60’s full-color handiwork for Burlington socks.   That was followed immediately by this sadly dated black and white commercial for Aero Shave.

It made me wonder what the Aero Shave marketing minds were thinking.   Could they possibly think that their drab black and white commercial could hold a candle to the flashier full-color ads back-to-back?   Or, did they just decide to run that black and white commercial in the full color show, knowing that most Americans were still watching on black and white television sets anyway?   Either way, it seems their logic was misguided.  Burlington is still going strong.   Aero Shave is long gone.

In this full-color world, are you marketing yourself in black and white?   Are you thinking your brand stands well on its own next to more vibrant, engaged brands?   Or, are you simply a little too content to look ahead to the next step because you blend in just fine with those around you right now?

It wasn’t until 1972 when more Americans owned color tv sets than black and white ones.  Maybe that’s when Aero Shave would have finally produced a full-color TV commercial.  But they were down the sink by then.   Don’t wait for the right time to freshen your brand.  That time is, most likely, now.

And tomorrow, for that matter.

Jim Hausfeld

As Creative Director for The Ohlmann Group, Jim helps guide the vision of their web, print, broadcast, and other creative. In a career spanning over two decades, he’s collected over 100 local, regional, and national advertising awards, including a National ADDY Award and an International Radio and Production RAP Award. Plus once, in a moment of wild abandon, he piloted a blimp.

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