Like a lot of advertising writers, from time to time I've wondered what would happen if the ideas for commercials ceased to flow. Because of this, I've accumulated my own bank account of ideas for getting started, so I can make a withdrawal at any time.
They're not real advertising ideas, based on insights. Rather, they're for-emergency-only executional approaches to get my brain going quickly. You're welcome to try them if you want to, in the privacy of your computer.
1. The detective story. Everyone loves mysteries they can solve themselves. First, invent your own gumshoe. Then have your hero solve the "crime"(such as money lost by paying too much), with clues.
2. Teacher/learner. This is used all the time by the Procter and Gamble crowd. The manicurist who teaches hand care. The woman in the laundromat, who tells the younger woman how to get fresh-smelling clothes. It's a great device for selling, once you set up the problem and keep the language realistic.
3. The psychiatrist. What's wrong with the patient on the couch? Maybe guilt, for spending too much or not knowing what's best. Or not being able to say no --- or yes. After the humorous analysis, the answer is always your product or service.
4. A Woody-Allen-type guy and his girlfriend. You know how they talk, how timid and naive she can be and how nervous and guilt-ridden he can be. Aways good for a laugh or two. If all else fails, have the guy quote Kafka and she counters with Spinoza.
5. The cowboy movie. Easily enough cliches to fill up 30 seconds. The guy in the black hat always loses and the good guy and the sweet young thing ride off into the sunset, knowing the product works like a charm.
6. Gangsters. There are never enough of them to go around. But don't make them too ethnic. Whether they're playing poker or planning a heist, they can win or get foiled by the product.
7. The celebrity. If all else fails, call for a star. Find the one appropriate to the product, and write your ads and commercials. Your client either won't like or can't afford the star, but it will get you through the next meeting, and by then you'll have thought up a real idea.
Two important notes: First, the world is full of good ideas; just study your customer and his or her problems. You don't need this list. And second, if one of my students uses this list for an assignment, he's in big trouble.