Anybody listening?

Playskool Helmet Heroes

Sometimes you just have to wonder, “What were they thinking?”

Playskool’s Helmet Heroes is a new version of an old toy:  a costume and vehicle set with a sound chip embedded in it.  You push the button, you hear the sound, you run around, you make believe.  Like a cowboy hat and a stick horse.  Pretty simple.  Hours of fun.

It’s the commercial that puzzles me.

Puzzle number one:  The opening line is “Can you imagine getting arrested in your own home?” while you watch from the point of view of a child pretending to be a cop.  So you metaphorically watch yourself being arrested by yourself.  That’s a bit strange.  Puzzle number two:  The entire commercial is clearly addressed to dads, and by extension to all toy-purchasing adults.  Why would the image of being arrested in my own home make me want to buy a toy?  In what way does that appeal?  Playing together is fun.  Imagination is great.  Couldn’t someone have thought of a better way to say it?

Run it up the flagpole

The terrain in the part of Texas where I live is mostly flat.  Not beach-flat, but flat enough that the hills would only really be noticed if you were on a bicycle, instead of inside one of the very large trucks or SUVs that most people seem to drive.  The expanse of the land makes the sky seem huge—the horizon seems so far away.  Maybe that’s why folks drive such big vehicles:  you need a little altitude to see what’s out there.

This need for altitude, coupled with what was surely lax or non-existent billboard regulation in the past, has lead to a great cacophany of signage along the highways.  You have tilt your head to see above the billboards in some places.  And there are lots of billboards that advertise only themselves–which is to say they advertise Lamar Advertising who will gladly put Your Message Here.

But most interesting of all is the way the land and the lack of applicable laws have brought out a curious creativity in the Texas Businessperson.  All along the roads, people are putting things up on poles.  Lots of things.  Things you might not have expected.  I have seen plaster horses and gigantic crowns, trucks, trailers, porta-potties (complete with mannequin inside doing his business), boats, and storage sheds.  I can only imagine the wealth of elevated everyday objects that I have yet to find.

As Lamar says, out-of-home advertising “is the only medium capable of catching your consumers on their way to the buy.”  And with so many glitzy signs competing for customers’ attention, it’s a smart advertiser who knows when a simple thing, like an eighteen-wheeler sixty feet in the air, is all you really need.