Finalists: The 3 Dumbest Christmas Car Commercials, 2014 – Tim Burt Reviews

Every Christmas season, without fail, there will be one auto manufacturer with a stupid advertising campaign, or at least one dumb commercial. This year, we have THREE.

Finalist #1: Honda

Are you selling toys or cars?


Let me guess…the Michael Bolton commercials from last year didn’t work out so well?

Finalist #2: Ford

So…nine-year old kids can now drive?

Finalist #3: Toyota

(I apologize, you have to click through the link to watch…but its awfulness is worth it…)

Does this happen in any showroom? Ever? At least during business hours?

How do you follow that up, Toyota? By asking your dealers to make your customers make ridiculous, forced, lame videos like this…which, I would bet, these people hadn’t seen the “dancing” commercial before they walked in to that dealership…

So…just remember…

These commercials are supposed to convince you to spend $25,000+ on a car.

Tim Burt 


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Black Friday Is Dead. Ready For Black Thursday (And Wednesday)? Advertising Expert Tim Burt Explains

Black Friday – As You Know It – Is Dead

After visiting 5 malls in 6 hours on Black Friday, here’s who didn’t show up:

Black Friday 2014 Macys - empty checkout station.

Black Friday 2014 Macy’s @ 5:30 a.m.

Where is everyone? Home sleeping.

Macy’s @ St Louis Galleria, approximately 6:15 a.m. Where is everyone? Home sleeping.

Empty aisles on Black Friday 2014 at St. Louis West County Center

Main thoroughfare on Black Friday 2014 at St. Louis West County Center. Approximately 5:30 a.m.

Microsoft Store St Louis Galleria Black Friday 2014

More staff than patrons at the Microsoft Store in the St Louis Galleria on Black Friday 2014. Approximately 6:30 a.m.

In prior years, you couldn’t walk 5 feet without bumping into 10 people. Now…it’s like a Sunday morning right after they opened.

Don’t Get Me Wrong…

The deals will still be crazy on Thanksgiving weekend for years to come. Consumers will simply be able to get them sooner, and online.

Seeing empty parking lots at the malls when they should be packed led me to some startling realizations…


  • Within 4-6 years (or less), most major U.S. retailers will remain open on Thanksgiving Day.
  • The only time they will close will be Wednesday evening (briefly) to prepare for the “Black Thursday”crowds.
  • The busiest night in the U.S. at bars (the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving) will suffer a noticeable traffic decline because of the shopping frenzy starting earlier. 

I witnessed (essentially) the death of a retail tradition on Friday. Here’s why I say this:

  • “People won’t shop on Thanksgiving night” (as I’ve heard) is a myth.
  • More consumers are buying online because retailers are offering the same deals.
  • Because people are looking for an escape from their families that night.

Thanksgiving Night Sales By The Numbers

Here are some “Black Thursday” stats to support my predictions and observations:

  • 22 million people were at Walmart stores between 6-10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. That’s more than visit Disneyland in a year
  • Walmart counted 10,000,000 cash register transactions during that 4-hour span.
  • Target – per minute – was selling an average of  1,800 televisions, and 2,000 video games.

There are more numbers here if you care to see them.

Fights Over T.V’s, Underwear, and T.V.’s

*Warning: strong language in the links*

If you haven’t seen the craziness you can watch some of the NSFW YouTube videos from the United States here.

BONUS! Even Britain got in on the Black-whenever madness. Click here.


Just like the line in “Field Of Dreams” – “if you build it they will come” – then if you make it worth their effort, consumers will show up regardless of the day/time.

What was a truly American event has now shifted online, and to a holiday. It breaks my heart.

Be fully prepared to add “Black Thursday” and (probably very soon) “Black Wednesday” to your lexicon in the near future.

Tim Burt 


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Finalist: Best Black Friday Commercial of 2014 – Old Navy – Tim Burt Critiques

In my previous post, I gave my opinion as to whether stores should be open on Thanksgiving (before Black Friday).

The short answer is yes – if – the stores give you a reason to be there.

This ad has the best reason I’ve seen to go shopping on Thanksgiving day yet…

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Should Stores Be Open On Thanksgiving? – Advertising Expert Tim Burt Discusses

Here in the U. S., Thanksgiving isn’t for another week. Traditionally, that day marks the official start of the Christmas shopping season.

Yet, you wouldn’t know it from the onslaught of ads everywhere ramming “holiday” offers down the throats of the public – 6 weeks – before Christmas.

In years past, you wouldn’t start seeing these ads until just before – or on – Thanksgiving day.

The day after Thanksgiving (a.k.a. “Black Friday”) is the biggest shopping day of the year. It’s named as such because that day used to mark the time that the “big box” retailers turned a profit for the year (out of the red, into the black – hence, “Black Friday”).

But as Thanksgiving Day has fallen later in the month in recent years, retailers are looking to maximize every possible second of revenue before Christmas.

I can’t blame them for that.

Some have resorted to opening on Thanksgiving Day itself. I saw a press release today mentioning that a half-dozen malls will be open on turkey day here in St. Louis where I live.

Is it right? Should they be “allowed” to open?

My $0.02 is, yes (here’s where the argument usually ensues).

But I have a rule: if the business makes it worth the public’s time, people will show up.

Just like any other day of the year.

The “door-buster” deals on Friday for electronics, clothes, etc. will always draw people in.

But to do it on Thanksgiving (when some will argue that time should be spent with family), then retailers who willingly open that night need to add extra incentive to shoppers.

Handing out “Groupon-type” coupons (spend $10, get $20 later) will reap a greater reward well past the holiday season.

Bigger discounts. Door prizes. All that gimmicky stuff.

Guess what? It works.

Remember, there are those who don’t have family in town who don’t mind shopping. There are those who don’t mind working because they may get extra pay.

Will I be out shopping on Thanksgiving night? Maybe.

It depends on what kind of offers lure me to the retailer.

Tim Burt

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What’s Missing From Most Haunted House Commercials? – Advertising Expert Tim Burt Explains

People spend 8 billion dollars annually on Halloween.

Halloween Advertising Is Usually Anything But Scary.

What’s the one thing you’re paying for when going to a haunted house?

  • to scream your lungs out?
  • be startled into helplessness?
  • to be shocked into shock?

Actually, it’s none of those.

Wanna know what it is?

Want me to tell you???


You’re paying for suspense.

It is the anticipation of what is to come next that is truly the most terrifying part of any good haunted attraction.

Keep that in mind as you watch/listen to these first three haunted house commercials.

(At the end of this post, I’ll give you a haunted house commercial idea that would be incredibly effective…and one that I’ve never seen.)

Boo! More Like BOOOOOOO (thumbs down)

First, one of my core principles of copy writing for any advertisement: don’t fill the ad with too many words…or things for me to remember. Here’s a good example of what not to do in a haunted house television commercial:

Conversely, this television advertisement for a haunted house in Pennsylvania doesn’t use an announcer or voice-over at all:

Here’s a radio ad for the “Carnival Of Carnage” which could have been far better if the story were being told only by a clown, instead of some disembodied voice:

No suspense, all noise. Not scary.

Finally, Some Actual Copy Writing Effort

This is from 1978. Without the computer technology we have today, they had to rely on actual storytelling. This is by far the best commercial I’m sharing with you:

The Best Halloween Ad I’ve Never Seen

Would be one with just a picture of a door. Nothing else for the entire commercial.

Something like this:

Your Haunted House Commercial should just be this for the entire ad

What’s behind this door?

A sample script:

“Unforgiving. Relentless. Terrifying.

That’s how those who have opened this door describe what’s behind it. 

Open this door, and come face-to-face with your deepest, darkest fears.

You can’t imagine what’s on the other side. We’ve done it for you.”

Then add in the name of the attraction and website.

The script above which I wrote is very rough, but it’s far better than the first three commercials I shared with you.

Pro Tip: Let The Audience Imagine Your Attraction

Most professional haunters (the industry term for a haunted house operator) seem hell-bent on using graphic images and too many sound effects to attract their audience.

They also try to list every single thing that’s inside in their commercials.

That is a common, and massive mistake.

It’s far more creepy and effective to let the audience imagine what your haunted house has in it (“what’s behind this door?”).

The Secret Sauce:

As I stated earlier, if you give away the surprise, there can be no suspense.


That is what virtually every person who pays to go inside is expecting.

So give it to them in your advertising, professional haunters.

Tim Burt


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Three Powerful Advertising Techniques That I Use – Advertising Expert Tim Burt Explains

Why do some commercials convert their audience to buyers more than others?

Tomorrow on a free webinar, I’ll be revealing three extremely powerful advertising techniques that I use quite often.

You can use these for your own business, or apply them to advertising for your clients.

This is a no-hype, no selling webinar. No kidding.

Just click this link to register.

Tim Burt

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The Under Armour Ballerina Ad Isn’t As Good As You Think – Expert Marketer Tim Burt Critiques

This advertisement for Under Armour is generating a lot of buzz. Here’s the ad:

13-year old Misty Copeland recites her rejection letter from a “ballet academy.”

  • She’s too old.
  • Misty has the wrong body type.
  • Clearly, she’s very muscular.

I’m sure for legal purposes she cannot disclose the “ballet academy” that told her to take a hike.

What’s Good About This Ad

It’s visually stunning.

It’s extremely inspirational to those little girls who want to be ballerinas.

It instills the “don’t give up” mentality.

It Misses The Mark Badly

Three areas where this ad falls completely flat.

1) Had they shown Misty performing in front of thousands on stage, that would have created a greater impact in the mind of the audience.

Dancing on stage in an empty  airplane hanger (??)  means absolutely nothing to those she’s trying to inspire.

But the bigger issues I have:

2) Watch the ad again. I see absolutely no benefit that Under Armour brings to her skills.

Does wearing Under Armour make her jump higher? Twirl faster? Make her stand on her toes longer? Probably not.

You could replace the Under Armour logo with Adidas, Nike, Reebok, etc. and still get the same results.

3) This ad is very reminiscent of Nike’s wildly successful “Just Do It” campaign from the late 1980’s.

Bo can do all that because he’s wearing Nike. Or so they would have you believe.

But as I’ve stated in my seminars, you cannot copy another advertising premise, and mold it to your own…which Under Armour slyly tries to do…and fails.

Tim Burt

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