Woman and Plunger

I live near the epicenter of the ultimate, high-quality Movie, TV, Radio, and Media production centers in all of the world. It is, in short, the Los Angeles media market. Access to the best production companies, recording studios, and talent is a stone’s throw away. Yes, I know New York, Nashville, London, and numerous other cities boast similar qualifications, but this is just a point of reference.

I often listen to a specific talk radio station here that is very high power, very high profile, and probably reaches millions of listeners. Their on-air talent, their production values, and their broadcast quality is second to none. That is why I am writing this blog post. They air commercials for plumbers, garage door companies, financial services, cosmetic surgery, lawyers, air conditioning companies, solar companies, and everything you can imagine. Always well produced, always with catchy jingles and phrases, and, no doubt, very successful. But there are a few commercials that make me laugh. Not because I don’t believe their sincerity, but because I’m baffled that the ad agency, the radio ad department, the production people, the scriptwriter, or someone along the process didn’t catch some of these lines in these scripts.

One of the funniest lines I often hear is for a plumbing company. Their opening line starts with a woman, in a frustrated tone, asking, “Why can’t a plumber tell me how much it would cost to unclog my drain over the phone?” I think her intent might be, “Why can’t a plumber give me a quote over the phone for coming out and unclogging my drain?” But if you think about it, she’s asking why a plumber can’t tell her how much it will cost to do the unclogging through the phone. I didn’t know that technology existed, and if it does, I’m sure it’s expensive. “Ma’am, if you’re willing to hold the phone over the clogged drain, we’ll send some hyper-tones and Nano-mites into the drain to do the job. That will cost you $500.”

Recently, another funny opening line has recently started airing on behalf of a financial planning company. “If you’ve been trying to make retirement plans in a vacuum…” Now, I’m sure no one is thinking about retiring in a vacuum. If so, it would have to be a very large, specialized vacuum. I know it’s not the intent of the advertiser, but the wording is so funny, it makes me chuckle every time I hear this commercial. Perhaps re-writing that opening line and leaving out vacuum altogether might serve this company better. “If you’ve been trying to make retirement plans on your own…” might make more sense.

I’ve thought about reaching out to the giant radio station’s advertising department and pointing out these faux paus. I’ve also thought about reaching out to the advertisers themselves and explaining the message versus the intent. However, I don’t think giant, powerful radio stations or companies spending tens of thousands of dollars on their ad campaigns want to hear from me. So, I just continue to laugh when these ads air.

On the other hand, maybe one of my local businesses might listen to me. Recently, a home entertainment business (pool tables, bumper tables, card tables, bar stools, pool cues, etc.) hung a giant banner near the front of their building and spelled a word wrong: “Ask us about our pool tables and DINNING tables.” Even with a Google search, I’ve never been able to find out what a DINNING table is. Dining table? Yes. Dinning table? No. But, maybe that’s the genius behind the banner. It certainly makes me want to visit them and find out what a dinning table really is.