Archive for the ‘Hawaii TV advertising’ Category

Mad Men, Letterman, Rupert Jee and Me...

May 21st, 2015
By



Late Show signI stopped watching David Letterman's Late Show regularly a long time ago when he seemed to be falling back on stale bits and spending most of the show on digressive grumblings that went nowhere. He wasn't the quick-witted, anything-goes sardonic young host I grew up with while living in NYC as a bachelor in my mid-20s during the go-go 1980s. By "go-go," I mean there was lots of drinking and copious amounts of cocaine in the bars, jazz joints and after hours clubs I frequented from the Village to the Upper West Side. Bruce Willis, who I knew from Montclair State College, was still bartending at Cafe Central in 1985 -- the year I pulled a geographic and moved to Hawaii, in part, to avoid the fate of people like John Belushi and others who were part of that scene.

Generally speaking, I'm not the nostalgic type who likes to post a bunch of old photos on Facebook and tag people I hung out with way back when. Yet it's hard for me not to reflect on the passing of the Mad Men television series and Letterman show because of personal connections to both that remind me how far I've come or gone, literally thousands of miles away, and how old I am. Aging sucks -- unless you consider the alternative. Just surviving long enough to grow into a crusty, cynical curmudgeon like Dave, can be considered a success in itself. It's like that old song, "I'm Still Here" from Follies: Good times and bum times, I've seen them all.

The other day I had a business meeting with a former New Yorker and during our chat, this younger woman asked how old I was to compare notes about our respective time frames in the Big Apple. I hesitated, thought about fudging by saying "I'm in my 50s" or "mid-50s," then shrugged and admitted: "Fifty-eight. I'm old." Ugh. Why did I feel like I had to apologize for not being young any more?

She appeared to be caught off guard. Her New York and mine were decades apart. She only knew the Disney-tized Times Square version. My NYC was dirty, dangerous, dying from the AIDS epidemic, yet still retaining some of Don Draper's Mad Men business trappings from the 60s and 70s. I even interviewed at Grey Advertising, one of the biggest agencies in the world, rivaling the agency that swallowed up Don's firm. At the time, I was news editor of my college paper and a friend's dad at Grey introduced me to their head copywriter -- a woman, just like Peggy on Mad Men! She looked over sample commercials I wrote, liked a couple, suggested I write more, then get back to her after she returned from vacation. But I needed a job fast, so I never followed up with her and wound up stumbling down other career paths.

After I moved to Manhattan in the early 80s, I got a marketing job in publishing down in the Greenwich Village area. I ducked into a jazz club to get out of the rain one summer evening, and that's where I met musicians from the Late Show band and Saturday Night Live orchestra. It was named Seventh Avenue South and was owned by the Brecker Brothers, well-known jazz musicians in their own right. It became my pau hana hangout, where I held court with Hiram Bullock, the original Letterman band shoeless guitarist (played with David Sanborn often too); Sammy Figueroa, a percussionist (the conga player on David Bowie's "Let's Dance"); Will Lee, still playing bass with the Late Show band; Paul Shaffer would pop in; Jaco Pastorius, the late great electric bass player with Weather Report was a regular... plus a host of other young actors, musicians, artists and riffraff. Hiram told me how Belushi was at his place one night, found a box containing all of Hiram's tax info and receipts, and proceeded to throw them out the window. A few months later, Belushi would OD.

I also befriended David Murray of the World Saxophone Quartet, who I learned was related to Walter Murray -- the UH football receiver, best remembered for dropping a pass that would have given the 'Bows their first victory over vaunted nemesis, BYU. As it happened, on my final night in New York before getting on the long flight to Honolulu, a co-worker scored tickets to the Late Night show as a going away gift for me. I had always wanted to see it live, so it was a big deal. However, David Murray also offered to put me on his guest list for a gig he was doing with another jazz legend, Ron Carter, at the Lush Life that same night. I opted for the Lush Life instead of Dave. Sigh. That was New York in a nutshell -- too many choices, too much to do in too little time.

It's strange how things come full circle. Three years later, I was married, had gone through rehab for alcoholism, got sober and started growing up at the age of 31. That's when I began writing screenplays based on my wild nights in NYC and 28-day stay at Castle's treatment center in Kailua. Eventually, I would get to meet staff writers for Mad Men, who were doing a UH screenwriting workshop. They had worked on the Baywatch Hawaii series, along with former Star-Bulletin columnist, Charlie Memminger. He got that short-lived TV staff job as a result of winning the Maui Writers Conference screenwriting contest -- the same one I came in second place for a script that was set in NYC a year before 9/11 would change the skyline forever.

Me and Rupert JeeIn 2006, my wife and I stopped by the Late Show theater to see if we could get tickets but none were available. We did get to meet Rupert Jee, the Hello Deli owner and frequent guest on Letterman (often put in amusing, uncomfortable situations when Dave would fit him with an earpiece and instruct Rupert to do odd things to unsuspecting parties outside the theater).

I'm still searching for that illusive first big script sale. Heck, I'd settle for a small low budget straight-to-video deal. I used to snicker at shows like Baywatch Hawaii, but now that I'm older, wiser and less full of myself, I realize what it takes to be a professional screenwriter no matter what you or I may think of the quality of the show itself. The Mad Men writers I mentioned had gotten to know Matt Weiner long before he achieved critical acclaim with his series about a Manhattan advertising agency, and the characters we watched grow up (or not) before our eyes. Most don't know what a hard sell it was for the creator of that series to get it on the air. It's really an inspiring story for any writer, artist or entrepreneur. You can read the Fast Company piece by clicking here.

The last night I spent in New York, I remember coming back to my apartment on 14th Street, still intoxicated and high from the Lush Life show. Down on the corner, there was a lone sax player I could hear through the open window, blowing sad, sweet notes -- a serenade for no one in particular. But in my heart, I believed he was playing his song for me. I miss the city... I'll miss Mad Men and Dave too.

Hello Deli sign

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For daily viewing times of my Career Changers TV show, visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel... including commercials written and produced by this former NYC mad man.

 

 

Commercial Interruptions

May 14th, 2015
By



Before the advent of DVRs, VCRs, and remote controls -- or "the clicker" as my wife still refers to it -- people had few TV programs to choose from, and would sit through commercials rather than get up and change the channel. Fast forward to modern viewing habits, and it's evident technology has not only altered the way we watch television -- it's physically transformed us into couch potatoes. Speaking of which, I found this interesting bit of etymology:

"Very few words have a birthday so precise, and so precisely known, as couch potato. It was on July 15, 1976, we are told, that couch potato came into being, uttered by Tom Iacino of Pasadena, California, during a telephone conversation. He was a member of a Southern California group humorously opposing the fads of exercise and healthy diet in favor of vegetating before the TV and eating junk food (1973). Because their lives centered on television--the boob tube (1966)--they called themselves boob tubers. Iacino apparently took the brilliant next step and substituted potato as a synonym for tuber. Thinking of where that potato sits to watch the tube, he came up with couch potato."

I digress though, which is typical of channel surfers with short attention spans who are loathe to sit through commercial interruptions while plopped down in front of our bigger and bigger high def widescreen TVs. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not pretentious about my television preferences or an anti-TV snob like some people I know, who equate television with lowest common denominator forms of entertainment. In fact, I'd say some of the best writing in the past decade can be found on today's flatscreen TVs.

But I don't like wasting time on commercials that are trying to sell me something I don't need for problems I don't have. So, like a lot of people, I DVR nearly everything and press the >> button to speed through the 3-4 minute commercial breaks on most network programs. As a local TV producer this puts me at odds with myself, since I rely on advertisers to keep my Career Changers  TV show on the air. To get around the problem of channel jumpers, I've tried to be more creative.

Instead of running a lot of short-form commercials (15 to 30 seconds) I run longer info-tainment style segments that are paid for by sponsors, but tell interesting stories about the companies, organizations, or people behind that business. When we do run conventional advertising, I limit my breaks to no more than two 30-second spots or a single minute-long commercial to reduce the likelihood of viewers switching channels. With other network programs, I can basically watch most of two shows in the same half hour because they pack so many commercials into each break. Which is bad for the advertisers who pay for those time slots. The ad sales people tell clients they'll be running the spot dozens of times in a short period -- what they don't say is that commercial is going to be buried in a string of 7 to 8 other ad messages that probably have no relevance whatsoever to the client's target market.

I'm not sure when 30-second spots became the norm, but I decided to go old school on new commercials I produced for Waimea Valley and Remington College, two of my long-time show sponsors. For them, I did one-minute commercials because I felt the extra time would help sell the upcoming Summer Concert Series at Waimea Valley (here's a link -- great summer line-up and great deal!) and the new Remington campaign features Augie T, so we wanted to take advantage of his comedic talents. What's more, Augie has a talent for connecting with local folks, so I wanted to let him interact with actual students (which was a lot of fun too).

Here's one of the Augie T commercials that showcases his comedy skills, while this one displays a more serious side of Augie.

So, let me ask you: How long are you willing to watch commercials before changing channels? Or do you DVR most of your programs too?

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For daily viewing times -- subject to change due to high school sports lately -- please visit www. CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel, now closing in on one million total views... which is great for our paid sponsors, and another way conventional television viewing has changed!

North Shore News

November 6th, 2014
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As Makahiki Festivalyou'll see on the November episode of Career Changers TV, which premieres Thursday night at 7:30 PM on Channel 12/high def 1012, Waimea Valley is adding a new twist to the start of Makahiki season: for the first time in years, they'll be hosting the Ke 'Alohi Hula competition -- unique because men and women compete against each other. There will also be Native Hawaiian games, crafts, entertainment and food. Plus, it's just $5 per adult and $2.50 per child!

Here's a short video we did with Richard Pezzulo, Executive Director of Waimea Valley. While we were there, we also got to sample the delicious food at their recently reopened Proud Peacock Restaurant. Click here for that video. They're open Thursday through Saturday from 4 to 9 PM (happy hour 4-6 PM, $5 pupu menu and $2 off drinks) and have a great Sunday Brunch deal: just $25.95 from 10 AM until 2 PM for a sumptuous buffet that includes prime rib and omelet stations, fresh baked pastries, and a beautiful setting. You can walk off the extra calories with a hike to the waterfall and restored hale!

Every time we do a shoot at Waimea Valley, there's something new happening. On our latest visit, we saw major progress on their hale restoration project, which we reported on earlier this year in this segment. Back then, they had just completed restoration of the amphitheater with the help of many volunteers. That same amphitheater will now be used for the Ke 'Alohi Hula competition next Saturday.

All of these improvements and increased emphasis on Hawaiian culture have not gone unnoticed by national and international media. I've seen articles popping up in major travel publications, and just yesterday saw a new show on the Esquire TV channel (Oceanic Cable 550/high def 1550) called The Getaway that featured Waimea Valley and the Haleiwa Farmers' Market, which takes place in their pavilion every Thursday afternoon. The guest celebrity for that episode was  Jack McBrayer, the actor who played NBC page Kenneth Parcell on 30 Rock.

As it happens, I heard about The Getaway filming on the North Shore from Fred DeAngelo, the chef/owner of Ola Restaurant at Turtle Bay, when we were shooting a new segment about Mermaid Kariel this past weekend. More on that in a future post. Fred and his wife, Cheryl, were featured on the Food Network's Chef Wanted show last year. Three chefs competed for the top job. I asked Fred how that worked out. Turns out the winner left after six months because his wife got rock fever. However, the restaurant is doing better than ever and we'll be filming a segment on them in the future too. In fact, there's lots more going on at Turtle Bay -- such as sustainability/environmental projects -- which I also heard about during our Waimea Valley shoot from Bonnie and Mark Howland of WHALE Environmental Services, who made a cameo in our Proud Peacock segment. They were at the park to discuss a renewable energy project that sounds really interesting... I'll be following up on that too!

The next airing of The Getaway North Shore episode will be this Sun., Nov. 9 at 10 AM, 6 PM and 9 PM (either 550 or 1550 -- check your onscreen guide). Ola didn't get much screen time due to all the other places and things they wound up showing, but had they been there while we were filming Mermaid Kariel's new Ola show (story-telling and lunch with the kids on the first Saturday of the month) I bet they would have used that footage. As part of her show, Fred himself carries Kariel to and from the ocean!Fred and Cheryl DeAngelo

That's Fred and Cheryl DeAngelo above, with Mermaid Kariel and the kids in background. BTW, Fred says locals are more than welcome to bring their children to the show and have lunch at Ola. Parking is free at Turtle Bay too. So if you're looking for an excuse to go to the North Shore, between Waimea Valley and Ola, you've got plenty of reasons to make the drive!

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For daily viewing times of my Career Changers TV show, visit our website. You can also see video segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel, now at over 700,000 views. If you're a local business that wants to advertise or be featured in an advertorial spot, send me an email! Hmm... seems like a number of our show sponsors have been getting noticed by national media on travel shows, the Food Network and HGTV (H20/Seabreeze had their jet pack on Hawaii Life last week). Coincidence?

Free Concert Saturday at Waimea Valley

October 3rd, 2014
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Program Alert: The new October episode of Career Changers TV is now airing daily on Channel 12/high def 1012, and features master storyteller Lopaka Kapanui. His special "Chicken Skin" tours for this month will take ghosts -- er, guests -- to places he can't publicly reveal in the media due to legal liability issues, he says. For the details of where and when those excursions into the dark side will be conducted, you'll have to contact him via the Mysteries of Hawaii website!

Looking for something fun to do on Saturday? Waimea Valley is hosting a FREE concert on their beautiful lawn. Below are details from their press release:

Waimea Valley is excited to host the HTA Aha Mele Concert this Saturday, October 4, 2014 from 11am – 4pm. Come enjoy the sounds of Waimea Valley’s Ohana Three, Fresh Ea, Kaiholu, and Kapena along with a hula performance from Ke Kai O Kahiki while relaxing in the shade of the hundred plus year old monkeypod trees on our Main Lawn. The Kalaimoku Group has organized this concert as a part of the HTA Aha Mele Monthly Concert Series sponsored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) “The Ahamele: Monthly Hawaiian Music Series brings people together to celebrate Hawaiian culture through music,” said Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO. Waimea Valley’s Na Mea Ono Snack Bar will be onsite with Ono snacks from the grill, and ice cold drinks. Vendors onsite will include jewelers such as April Island Designs, Kaleimaeole, Kiki Sunrise Shells and Solomone Jewelry. Hawaiian Fresh Farms will have fish and chips, fish tacos, shrimp baskets and more along with their Country store serving up goat cheese cheesecake, local honey’s and kombucha on tap. Stollers, blankets, beach chairs, and umbrellas or welcome, no coolers permitted.

Wish I could go, but I'll be attending the UH weekend workshop being given by filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton (writer/director of SHORT TERM 12 and I AM NOT A HIPSTER). Destin's topic will be "From Shorts to Features" which can be a practical means of getting attention for proposed movie projects, as opposed to the conventional route of writing a screenplay and hoping it somehow gets greenlighted through the "just say no" maze of Hollywood gatekeepers, who are loathe to take chances on original material.

Destin's career got a huge boost from winning a Nicholl Fellowship, which I can tell you is incredibly difficult. The annual screenwriting competition is run by the Academy Foundation -- yep, the Oscar folks -- and draws upwards of 6,000 to 7,000 entries each year. Since many of the former fellowship winners have gone on to write hit movies, the finalists are often contacted by the top agencies and management firms in Hollywood. I've been a quarter-finalist three times (top 5 percent out of about 6,000 scripts) but never made it further than that. So now I'm considering going the same route Destin took -- produce a short film that can be expanded into a feature if it clicks with people in the movie biz.

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To see video segments from past and current Career Changers TV episodes, visit the CCTV YouTube Channel -- now over 600,000 views worldwide and climbing! If you have a product or service you want to advertise to locals, we're now booking slots for our special holiday shows. Just drop me an email to find out how we can produce high quality video segments for you at a very reasonable price!

Chinatown Tour - Part 4

June 10th, 2014
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Erdman cover

Took awhile to get to this final installment of my Chinatown tour series, but hopefully, you'll see how it all comes together. At the end of the Honolulu Exposed Red Light tour in mid-May, my wife wanted to pick up a copy of Hawaii Business magazine because an old friend of ours, Dave Erdman, was featured on the cover as their Small Business Person of the Year (click here for that article). Isabel worked with him in marketing at Tropical Rent A Car, back when I moved here in 1985.

Dave co-founded the Direct Response Advertising & Marketing Association of Hawaii (DRAMAH for short) and that's how I met Isabel -- my future wife. The guy I replaced at Oahu Bindery & Direct Mail had been talking to Dave about starting this direct marketing association, so I stepped in for him (Paul Hilker, who became a minister). Dave roped Isabel into it as well since she was assisting him at Tropical, which spawned a bunch of successful entrepreneurs before that company bit the dust. He went on to create the PacRim Marketing Group, which focused on the Japanese visitor market initially. Dave is fluent in Japanese, even though he came from the Philadelphia area. Isabel wound up starting her own small publishing company, which put out the very successful Japanese Guide to Hawaii (eventually sold to Duane Kurisu, who owns a number of Hawaii publications and businesses -- including Hawaii Business magazine). Another Tropical alumnus, Jeff Hendrix went into advertising, and formed his own award-winning agency (Hendrix Miyasaki Shin, which merged with Core Group One).

It was a fun gang to hang out with, especially since Tropical RAC had great company outer island trips because they had a lot of "trade" with travel-related partners and sponsors. I was meeting with Dave and Isabel regularly to plan our DRAMAH seminars, which brought in internationally-respected direct marketing experts through Dave's connections -- primarily his dad, the late great Ken Erdman, who was one of the best direct mail copywriters in the business. Ken's books, articles and seminar talks taught me just about everything I know in regards to copywriting. Plus, our post-DRAMAH meetings pau hana sessions at bars and business mixers Downtown, led to me getting romantically involved with Isabel. So I hold Dave largely responsible for my marriage, now going on 29 years.

DRAMAH was an important and influential development in the local advertising and marketing scene. You had the major ad agencies, smaller marketing/graphics outfits, a few independent consultants, all vying for limited advertising dollars. Direct marketing represented a major shift in thinking from mass "branding" type saturation ads (mainly print and TV commercials) to targeted data-based approaches that emphasized tailored ads and pitches. DM people really were the first to use computers and build databases that could identify markets by key demographics -- right down to income, education levels, interests and so on. Needless to say, traditional Mad Men type ad agency people were skeptical... even resistant to much of what was espoused in our DRAMAH seminars. Why, you ask?

Well, the core tenet of direct response marketing is called A/B testing. To see what message works best, you create alternate ads and in the old days, mailed out test packages to similar sample groups. For big companies, a small test mailing might be 5,000 out of a mailing list that could have hundreds of thousands of subscribers or product buyers... or donors. Ready, fire, aim. You analyze the results, fine tune, test again, and eventually do a roll-out to the entire list. But for traditional ad agencies that spend the bulk of the client's money on big ad buys in the newspaper or on TV, they really can't afford to produce multiple commercials or print ad campaigns and pass that cost along to the client. Instead, they may rely on smaller focus group testing or just present a couple of options to the client and let them guess which will work best.

Now here's where DM enters the modern age. Remember I mentioned donors lists? The man behind some of those early mailing lists, Richard Viguerie, became a major player in politics -- specifically the Republican Party. They were masters at the targeted message and building databases for fundraising, which gave them a huge edge over Democrats until the Obama campaign brought in people who understood A/B marketing. If you were on the Obama email list, you no doubt received a number of donation requests -- each one maybe slightly different in what the headline or subject line said. That's because with today's powerful database tools, they can do instantaneous testing to see which appeals generate the most response simply by tweaking a few words or images. More and more online advertisers are doing the same. And it all began with direct mail.

Anyhow, we couldn't find a single copy of that Hawaii Business magazine with Dave on the cover in Downtown Honolulu! The only magazine shop on Fort Street Mall that had it in their window was closed for the weekend. Longs didn't have it and it was just mid-month. In Kailua, we couldn't find it in Safeway or Foodland either. We had to drive to Ala Moana and get a copy from the Barnes & Noble bookstore there. When my wife used to publish her Japanese visitor guide, she would often check the street racks in Waikiki to make sure they were being kept in stock by her distribution person -- because that's what the advertisers are paying for.

So the business take-away from this simple walkabout in search of a magazine is that you can have the most sophisticated online computer tools at your disposal for market research and advertising... but if you don't get out of the office and check things with your own eyes and ears, chances are you may miss the real reason your business isn't doing better.

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For daily viewing schedules of the new July episode of Career Changers TV, please visit our website. You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel, now approaching 350,000 total views for over 200 pieces we've produced. Contact me directly if you're interested in being a sponsor!