Of Bald Dogs and Farting Grooms

Posted on January 25, 2011

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I’ve been a fan of Roy Williams, “The Wizard of Ads,” since I saw him speak at a Company meeting when there was still a broadcast company called AM/FM. An expert on effective advertising he stood up in front of the room tweaking commercial scripts stations had submitted. In several cases he simply rearranged the words and the spots went from run-of-the-mill to outstanding. He has published several books on the subject and holds regular Wizard Academy sessions that are like masters classes in copywriting.

Williams also authors a free weekly email: “The Monday Morning Memo,” and this week he talks about an exercise he uses to show people how to make commercials better and it happens to involve bald dogs and farting grooms. He calls it chaotic ad writing.

First he asks people in the audience to write down completely random lines such as,”I came home and the dog was bald,” or “I really needed to fart.” He picks one and links it to a random advertiser’s promotional need. In the bald dog example he was given a plumbing service that wants to promote their 24-hour emergency help line. Here’s the off-the-cuff ad he came up with : 

“I came home and the dog was bald. I haven’t been that surprised since I woke up at 2AM to pee and stepped out of bed into an inch of water. Thank god Martindale Plumbing never goes to sleep. At 2AM they were just sittin’ there, hoping someone would call. They fixed the problem while I made coffee. Great guys. Thank god for Martindale Plumbing, 24 hours a day. But I still got no idea what to do with a bald dog.”

Just like the headline of this entry and the start of that commercial, the reason to start with something so disconnected is the hope that it will cut through the clutter people are being inundated with every day and get their attention. The same idea applies every time you open the mic. I’m sure you sometimes  listen to radio so ask yourself which of these is more likely to capture your attention: “The WXXX birthday concert with Dokken is coming up soon,” or “So I shaved my dog Zeke bald this weekend. (pause) Zeke loves Dokken and I thought that maybe without all that fur he’d look human enough to sneak into the WXXX Birthday Concert.” 

Williams suggests writing the outrageous statement before you know what type of advertising you will be writing about. That is easily applied to your show prep. Make a list of ridiculous statements ahead of time. Then when you are prepping your show link one of them to the concert promo you have to read for the 300th time.  

By the way, I purposely didn’t write about the farting groom so you’d be compelled to take a minute and read the actual memo for yourself.

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