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Monday, July 9, 2012

Writing Prod: Advertising A-No-No

            Are you ready to set pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and let loose the dogs of inspiration? If you aren’t quite ready to start your serious writing you can get a nice creative warm-up with this weeks writing prompt. Or you can just check out what kind of craziness I come up with for my examples. No matter what your reason for stopping by (and I’m awfully glad you did) it’s time for this weeks prod.
            The prompt for this week is a little bit silly. I call it Advertising A-No-No. Isn’t that a cool sounding name for it? The idea is to take an advertisement on television, radio, or any of the print media and write a story about what would happen if the world was just as it is depicted in the commercial.
Now, if you want to generate a story that is a little more serious all you need to do is take the commercial and turn it into a sinister conspiracy. Imagine what nefarious goal, other than making money, a company might have for wanting you to purchase their product. If you want you can even try coming up with your own diabolical sales campaign and sell us a product that no one in their right mind would want to buy.

Example 1:  Based on the current series of M&M commercials that have the witty candies talking to regular people. This presents what would happen if the world was just as it is depicted in the candy commercial.

Food For Thought
Lenny doesn’t have any friends. Unless you count his roommate Stewart; the only person in the world with less social skills than Lenny. Worse yet, he has three weeks to finish his final thesis for psychology and has no idea what to write about. Then Stewart asks Lenny to test his latest chemistry experiment – a food additive that will make people smarter. When Lenny takes the serum he doesn’t get any smarter, but now his food talks to him. Candies, vegetables, even soft drinks want to give him advice on everything from the stock market to his love life. He questions his own sanity and urges Stewart to find a way to reverse the effect until he realizes that what the foods have to say makes sense.
Example 2: Based on your average beer commercial that depict a happy and carefree atmosphere as long as you drink their product, I have developed a little conspiracy to give you something to think about while you’re drinking.

            Happy Hour
Nate might be in a rut, but what a rut it is. Energy-drink his way through eight hours of complete tedium and then meet up with the gang at The Dive. As soon as that first beer hits the back of his throat everything changes. He laughs. The people around him laugh. They don’t even have to know what they’re laughing about. This is the life. And then Nate hits the jackpot; he wins a tour of the local brewery for him and five of his friends. He is half way through the tour when his alcohol-diminished sense of balance sends him tumbling down a set of stairs. Eventually, he wakes up and overhears a discussion that sends chills down his spine. The company is brewing up more than just some tasty suds, they have laced the beer with a chemical that overrides the human drive to excel thus making the country susceptible to an invasion.

Challenge: Writing about how a company turns an unwanted item into a marketable product is a story all of itself. I had thought of presenting an ad campaign for toxic waste as an example, but I think I will leave it as a challenge for all of you instead. Can you come up with a way to sell this? (I know a couple of companies that did.)



  1. I read a short story about a drug company CEO at a stockholder's meeting where he was announcing their new product: belief in a pill! There's an evil conspiracy for you.

    I'm reminded though of the marketing class I had in college, where the textbook said a TV dinner company tried to make a realistic commercial and people hated it because it was real. Apparently when it comes to ads, people prefer the fantasy.

    1. Both of your comments provide some excellent grist for the mill when considering stories of this nature. I think I could make a pretty good story out of "Belief in a pill."

      Thanks for the comments. : )