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Editorial: Tacky Advertisers Invade Prime Time

Want another sign that the recession isn’t over? A decline in demand for television commercial time has led to bargain-basement prices and a chance for “tacky advertisers” to enter prime time.

“We’re in places we didn’t imagine being,” Razor and Tie Direct’s Cliff Chenfeld told The Wall Street Journal last month, as his company’s hip-hop dance videos and record compilation ads have been airing during pro games, nightly newscasts and “Seinfeld” reruns. (By the way, “tacky advertisers” was the Journal’s term.)

Many direct response companies made similar statements at last week’s Electronic Retailing Association spring conference in Miami. Even Hair Club for Men managed to air a commercial during this year’s Super Bowl, though it was in the New York market only. Second-tier ads are getting so much play that infomercial marketers have trimmed their half-hour spots into 30-second and 60-second versions. However, the trend isn’t making “blue-chip advertisers” (the Journal’s term again) happy, as agency executives said these ads lower the perception of all commercials. From the commercials I’ve watched lately, the ones from the blue-chippers may look nicer but they could take a lesson in actually selling something.

Caples Go (Even More) International

While congratulating top Caples winner WWAV Rapp Collins Scotland, it’s interesting to note that this is the first year another country has bested the United States in taking home the most first-place awards: United Kingdom, 7; United States, 4. The United States, however, still raked in the most trophies for all the place levels.

Overall, international entries were up this year, accounting for 54 percent of all entries. … So, why is the United States falling behind? “With heads still reeling from the demise of the never-never dot-com world, where selling was déclassé, most are too young to remember HOW to sell,” said Caples founder Andi Emerson. “So it’s easier to play it safe — to blame the client — to blame the agency and switch from one to another, sometimes several times in one year.”

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