Should 9/11 Be Used In Advertising? Tim Burt Explains


Today marks the 15th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.

This week, two businesses (1 large, 1 small) decided to reference 9/11 in their advertising.

In this short video, I ask whether 9/11 should be used in advertising.

There is a very important lesson to learn about your audience…and not just about 9/11, and how it affects others differently.

You can watch this short video by clicking here..


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[video] 9/11 + Mattress Store Commercial = PR Disaster. Tim Burt Explains

The latest small business to incur the wrath of the internet: Miracle Mattress in San Antonio, Texas, for their “9/11 Mattress Sale” television commercial.
The question is: can they be saved?
In this video, I appeal directly to the owner of the company.
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Simple, Effective Advertising – from 1930’s Las Vegas – Tim Burt Explains

Advertising Lesson From The 1930’s

Recently, I toured the “Neon Sign Museum” in Las Vegas. It’s also referred to as the “Neon Boneyard.”

This non-profit museum collects old casino, hotel, and small business signs from Sin City establishments that have closed, been bought/sold, demolished, etc.

While seeing signs from casinos such as the “Stardust” and “Sahara” is fascinating…Stardust Casino Las Vegas sign.jpgSaraha Casino Las Vegas sign.jpg

I was particularly struck by this simple, yet highly effective sign from the 1930’s:

Steak Chicken Cocktails Las Vegas Sign

While it certainly wasn’t the biggest sign in the collection (see “Stardust” above), this signage for a restaurant started in the 1930’s (which eventually closed in the late 1990’s) is so simple, clean, and effective…it’s devastating.

From my recollection on the tour, this restaurant was simply known as the “green stop” (or something similar).

It started as a simple restaurant for the workers who were building up the (then) small town of Las Vegas.

During the 1930’s prohibition era, the owner would illegally serve liquor straight out of the kitchen window.

The word of their great food started to spread around town, all aided by this simple sign.

Did they have:

  • a casino?
  • a hotel?
  • nightly entertainment?

No. Just food.

The Bottom Line

My “Advertising Law #2” states:

“A commercial is a business card, not a brochure.”

That certainly applies to signage.

It’s nice to see that someone…even in the 1930’s…understood this concept.

You should follow their (and my) lead for your business.

You’ll save a ton of money in the process.

Tim Burt


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Super Bowl Ads: The Facts – Tim Burt Explains

The “ad meters” on most websites during Super Bowl Sunday are highly flawed. Why? They simply ask focus groups which commercials they “like”, because they’re asking the wrong question.

They should be asking participants “which ads make you want to investigate the good, product, or service further?”

Carl's Junior Super Bowl 49

This Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s Ad From 2015 Graded Poorly Because Of A Tired Visual Gimmick.

Are Super Bowl Ads A Wise Investment?

This year’s Super Bowl commercials will cost (on average) $5 million for just thirty seconds of ad time.

Keep in mind, that’s just to purchase the air time. Production costs are not included.

For argument’s sake (and to keep the math simple), let’s say the commercial cost $1 million to produce.

That total is now $6 million, which averages to a staggering $200,000 per second.

I’m No Math Whiz…But…

Being a small business owner myself, if I were spending that kind of coin, I better see a return on my investment.

Even though last year, over 114 million people were watching…advertising doesn’t mean you’re in the entertainment business.

Sadly, most Super Bowl ads now aim to entertain, rather than sell.

This is a huge disconnect.

Want To Know What I Think About Them?

Get my live, brutal, honest assessment during the game on Facebook.

I’ve posted a few of the ads which have been “leaked” on my Super Bowl 50 Commercials website, which you can see by clicking here:

Join Me…And Get The Truth

Don’t waste your time with the popular “ad meters”, which grade commercials simply on entertainment value. That’s a losing proposition.

Join me on Facebook and on during the game for instant grades, critiques, praise, and snark.

Tim Burt


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What Does “Laser Hair Removal Music” Sound Like? – Tim Burt Busts An Advertising Myth

A big misconception in advertising (especially radio advertising) is, “my commercial needs music in it.”

Here’s a bit of inside radio lingo: we call that a “music bed.”

99% of ads you’ll hear don’t need to contain any music…and here’s why.



Music and sound effects should only be in a commercial if it supports the sales message.

For example: if you’re a travel agent, and you’re advertising a Mediterranean cruise package, it would be fine (and almost expected) to hear a music bed from the country (or countries) where the boat will dock.

Unless the product you’re selling is music (think: a commercial for a live concert), very rarely will you ever find “the right music” for a business that isn’t selling music.


Effective advertising is about focus, clarity, and simplicity.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve produced a commercial for a business, and heard “but I don’t like the music.”

99% of the time, the music was unnecessary, but that’s another story.

My response is (and will always be), “what do you want the audience to focus on…the sales message, or the instrumental, nondescript, vanilla music?”

Which leads to…


Why do most commercials have unnecessary music in them? It’s because of fear.

Another objection I’ve heard over the years: “it doesn’t sound like a radio commercial.

The vast majority of the most effective and successful advertisements I’ve written and/or produced contain no music.

In the radio industry, that’s called “dry” or “dry voice.” And that’s how most of my finished commercials are.


Can someone tell me exactly what “laser hair removal music” sounds like?

Tim Burt





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The Best (And Quietest) Commercial You’ll See Today – – Tim Burt Critiques

If you’re as sick of radio, television, and web commercials screaming at you, then here’s a break for your ears…

Here’s the commercial:

Why This Commercial Wins

Let’s think about (just a few of) the competitors of

  • Priceline/Hotwire

There are hundreds more – if not thousands – of websites.

Those sites are all promising one thing: a “low cost” room, regardless of the quality.

You need a 1-star room? Have fun sorting through hundreds of options. In some instances, you can “name your own price.”

Those sites also offer 4 and 5-star rooms, too. But you’ll have to set those parameters when you search. offers one thing:

Low Cost Luxury Travel

Their slogan reinforces and differentiates them from their competitors: “the worst-kept secret in low-cost luxury travel.”

The key word: luxury.

Add in the fact that they “hand pick their hotels”, and the air of exclusivity reigns supreme.

No Need To Yell isn’t a clearing house for low-cost (or even high-cost) rooms…they’re doing one thing really well: catering to their target audience.

Whispering conveys a sense of prestige, sophistication, and refined tastes.

The only target audience I can think of that needs to be yelled at in advertising are people who need hearing aids.

Whispering Also Does One Critical Thing

Because their competitors are all yelling, or at least over-acting, this commercial forces you to pay attention to it…because you probably have to turn the television or computer speakers up.

Compare that to virtually every other commercial on the air or online right now. What a refreshing approach.

This will endear their target audience to the client, because they’re not cramming a hyperbolic sales message down our throats.

(BONUS tip) Advertising isn’t about getting attention, it is about holding attention, of which this ad does a masterful job.

Bottom Line

Even though this ad is from 2012, I saw it for the first time tonight.

This commercial forced me to watch it. Then, I immediately went to YouTube and purposely sought it out to see it again.

Can you imagine hearing this same ad on your radio while driving? It would be stunning.

The only problem (that I can see), is that they need more exposure.

As I type this, the video has just over 179,000 views on YouTube.

A stronger social media, online, and broadcast presence would do wonders for this brand.

Sadly, most of that takes money…and I don’t know their financial situation.

As for the commercial? It’s the best ad I’ve seen in 2015, even though it’s over 3 years old. The “Worst-Kept Secret In Luxury Travel” needs to be a household brand name.

Grade: A+

Tim Burt

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Advertising On Websites: Men Don’t Read, But Women Do – Tim Burt Explains

The “shotgun” approach to advertising is dead. It’s the (flawed) reasoning: “just put my advertising everywhere, and someone will respond to it.

In the “B.I.” age (Before Internet), this was all too common.

It should have never been born, but that’s another discussion.

My, How Times Have Changed…

If you own a business, you (should) know your target audience. Men ages 18-24; women ages 30-40 with children, etc.

Online advertising has really helped laser-focus where a business should spend their advertising budget. For instance, with Facebook ads, they help you determine where and how your target audience will see your message.

If you’re a plumber, you’re not going to advertise in the “Fashion & Clothing” section. At least I hope not…

Where Most Businesses Drop The Ball

A one-size-fits-all template for a small business website may seem like the best way to go. Price, setup, and maintenance are usually bundled into something that isn’t daunting to handle.

But are these templates the best option? Probably not.

Here’s why it’s important to have a custom website created for your business – because of your target audience.

News Flash: Men And Women Use The Web Differently

Men are the “give me a summary of what you have” crowd.

Women actually take time to read text.

Two Real-World Examples:

First, for the men, I grabbed a screen shot of the home page of Harley Davidson.

Harley Davidson website front pageAs you can see, not a lot of text there. It does contain a rather suggestive headline, which speaks to their target – men – in a way they understand.

(Of course, I’m not saying all men are cave-dwelling neanderthals, this is simply formatted to the way they use the internet.)

Now, for the women…I grabbed the front page of Bed Bath And Beyond:

Bed Bath And Beyond website front pageHere, we have far more text, with an actual product description on the home page. This page actually scrolls down much further, with more pictures and descriptive text.

They’re catering to their audience.

Does your website do that?

Are you sure?

Time to revisit your site…

Tim Burt

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