when playing it safe means getting it wrong

Life is a bit short to spend too much time criticizing but every now and then, the temptation is oh so hard to resist. And, let’s face it, isn’t it easier to learn from someone else’s mistakes?

The Olympics are coming to CTV as slowly proclaimed by the voice of veteran canadian actor Donald Sutherland. These promos currently running on CTV feature Canadian athletes in slow motion with even slower music.  To their credit, the athletes themselves have been training day in, day out for years. Is it any wonder their on-air camera work is less than amazing. “Do you believe?” they ask  the viewer with their bambi-like stares into the camera.

I’ll tell you what I believe, I believe we have a problem. A national broadcaster that paid 90 MILLION DOLLARS for broadcast rights forgot to show for the warm up. Persuading us all, advertisers and viewers, to buy the ad space and watch the show. You tube “Believe in Vancouver 2010” to see some of the series. The gloom and melancholy overwhelm.

CTV played it safe. And it couldn’t have been more wrong. Veteran actor, athletes doing athletic stuff, inspirational music, slow motion. C’mon. Live a little. I think I’ll PVR the Olympic coverage on NBC in case anyone decides to have some fun.

If nothing else, maybe we can learn that amateur mistakes happen to the pros. Like spending so much on the goods, you can’t afford the shipping and handling. Having said so, I now recall that CTV did air Hinterland Who’s Who PSAs during last year’s Superbowl. So maybe I’m giving them too much credit in the first place.

But back to the basics. Many firms spend so much on advertising (space you pay for such as billboards, newspaper and magazine ads), they rob themselves of any chance of success. It’s never about how much space you buy as what you do with the space. The perfect post-it note can do a helluva lot more than the billboard, depending on who you are, what you want and from whom you want it.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the Canadian athletes who will soon head to Vancouver. I want them to win for them. But I’m also keeping my fingers crossed for CTV. I want them to do our games and our athletes proud. And I hope the advertisers who paid the tab kept at least enough money to buy themselves some decent creative. With Frank and Gordon, the Bell Spokesbeavers now retired, who knows what we can expect. I will say this – two beavers, on an escalator in a mall, talking on a cell phones is about as unsafe as you can get – and that is gold medal marketing.


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