Two magical TV campaigns turn mundane clients into something special.

May 14, 2010

“Free credit report dot com. Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your mom.”

I think the rhyme goes something like that. At least that’s how I sing it in the shower. I’m of course referring to the silly, catchy jingle for the popular ad campaign. The advertising from the Martin Agency is achieving cult-like status. I’ve read the Canadian born actor lip synchs the jingle. Regardless, he is now a celebrity. Good for him. Sure beats digging ditches.

Though I admire this campaign, even if I am sometimes annoyed by it, I like what another similar client has done to dramatize bad credit scores even more.’s campaign is pure genius. Likening a bad credit score to a rogue pet, the result is both funny and strangely believable. Both are indeed hard to get rid of or improve. Seeing various furry “numbers” tearing up one’s sofa and piddling on the carpet might seem far-fetched but it really works –metaphorically and conceptually.

For one thing, the campaign’s execution is flawless. A grainy film tone perfectly captures the hard working demographic, while the scruffy, ill-mannered numbers are wonderfully low-tech and utterly realistic.

The latest spot (above), featuring a grizzled dogcatcher hunting down one such number, is my favorite by far. When the hefty man falls on his ass rounding a corner…it’s bleepin’ golden. The moment is played just right. As is the rest of the commercial.

What makes both campaigns more remarkable is they are essentially direct response television commercials. As most you know, DRTV is a hardcore selling form of TV commercial, often produced cheaply and run at odd hours. A hallmark of DRTV is the omnipresent call to action, URL and/or 800-telephone number. Done well, DRTV can be extremely effective. Most of it, by design, seldom rises above a certain aesthetic standard. That’s because DRTV was not created to build brands but to move products. (My agency, Euro RSCG Edge broke these rules a year ago with a “Cash for Gold” commercial featuring Ed McMahon and MC Hammer. Pretty damn funny. It ran on the Super Bowl!)

No doubt these campaigns are delivering users for both clients. They’ve been running for several years now. But they’re building a brands as well –charming, approachable and attractive ones at that. And for what? Number crunching websites! In my opinion,’s inspired silliness does for credit ratings what that tetchy lizard does for Geico Insurance.

Beyond the entertainment, I’m impressed by good salesmanship. Creating an inordinate amount of drama around a “bad credit score,” and then a solution for it creates insatiable curiosity in the viewer. How can one not wonder what his or her credit score is? And now they can find it. And fix it. For free!

Just guessing but could both these clients be the same? Or are they rivals?

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2 Responses to “Two magical TV campaigns turn mundane clients into something special.”

  1. tracy said

    I love the rogue credit scores and celebrate the use of a jingle in the slacker pirate band spots (which I initially also liked)… But godalmighty, the one where the young couple is forced to live in her parents’ basement ruined the whole campaign for me. The insinuation being Pirate Band Guy wouldn’t have married this girl had he known her crap score would deny him a dog and a yard. If I can set my dislike of Captain Douchebag aside for a moment, this spot probably sent more than one marriage-minded lady straight to Free Credit Reports.

  2. Heather J. said

    Just wanted to mention that and are both owned by the same company, Experian/ConsumerInfo, Inc.

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