I’ve always been shocked at the low production values, and usually writing, that goes into local advertising. Market size doesn’t seem to matter, even in major metro areas local advertising consistently lacks polish are just as poorly conceived and executed as advertising in small town markets.
Consider the difference between a national car ad and a local car dealer. Essentially they are selling the same product but the local dealer ads generally rely on corny gimmicks, screaming about their low prices and flashing giant blocks of text (in 14 fonts) across the entire screen. Obviously there is a large cost associated with the slick well produced national car ads featuring stunt driving on a closed course, but I’ll take that any day over a guy squinting into the sun “slashing” prices with a chain-saw.
There is something about being perceived as local that is appeals to a lot of people. So much so that Sonic’s (drive-in restaurants in 34 states) current ads look more like locally produced pieces than national spots, in fact when they first started airing I was convinced that the Sonic in town was buying local air and making their own commercials. Like a typical local spot the acting appeared mediocre, the dialog seemed stilted and the images were poorly exposed with no color correction. Far from hastily tossed together the Sonic ads were actually carefully planned and constructed to resemble local spots as a way to reach their target audience. It quickly became apparent that the actors were only acting like poor actors, the writing was tight and successive viewings didn’t diminish the jokes.
Better script writing, higher production values and clever planning are slightly more expensive than run-and-gun productions, but they pay off big time when it comes to communicating the message. And at the end of the day that’s the goal.