Indiana Jones isn’t the first person that comes to mind when thinking about marketing home furnishings, but then, we don’t possess the peculiar genius of Gordy Dodd.
For more than 25 years, the owner of Dodd’s Furniture & Mattress has been a staple of local television advertising in Victoria, keeping the city amused and engaged with a string of homemade commercials.
His career is a mash-up delight, taking in a Punjabi Elvis, the Incredible Hulk, a silver-wigged Bob Barker and, of course, Hindiana Jones, all of whom invariably declare: “I won’t be undersold!” Dodd figures 70 per cent of his foot traffic is driven by the spots, which each cost about $5,000 to produce.
“They’re getting so popular, people come over here to have fun,” he says.
Next up? A blue-skinned Dodd does Avatar.
Here’s some advice for the do-it-yourself crowd:
You must remember this
“A brand is a promise with a set of attributes that support that promise,” explains Aldo Cundari, the chairman and CEO of Toronto-based ad agency Cundari Group. So if you come across onscreen like a snake oil salesman, you may be getting attention, and even some traffic, but it’s unlikely you’re building long-term trust. Be passionate and truthful, Cundari advises. Also, be careful what you wish for: Your commercials could make you famous, but if your own personal brand gets fused to that of your business, you could have trouble when it comes time to sell the company or pass it on to your kids.
Put your best face forward (even if it belongs to someone else)
Know when to step aside. When Ben Baldanza, the president and CEO of Spirit Airlines, wedged himself into an overhead bin in April to shoot a commercial defending the company’s new carry-on-bag fee, we were so overwhelmed by watching him that we couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying. And his eyes kept darting to off-camera cue cards. Television may be a mass medium, but it’s also intimate, and if you seem shifty, don’t be surprised if people lock you out of their living rooms.
Gotta get a gimmick
Fast-talking cash-for-gold pitchman Russell Oliver commits to his “Cashman” role like a method actor. Unfortunately Time-Warner sued him for wearing a superhero costume that boasted a bold yellow dollar sign on the chest. Oliver no longer jumps out of phone booths dressed in a cape, but he has kept the Cashman moniker. Those who call his Toronto store are greeted by a recorded message in the same urgent, high-pitched tones of the character. And when Oliver deploys his signature bellow, “Oh, yeah,” in every commercial, you know he understands the importance of consistency.