Jon de Vos: Does this look real to you?
As the Writer’s Guild of America’s strike heads into its second month, the impact is even being felt in radio commercials.
Let’s sneak in the back door of a famous Burbank recording studio where an ad for a diamond importer’s product is being recorded. Note how the lack of tight, concise writing leads to tragedy.
Let’s listen in:
“With us in the studio today is Tom Shame, the twerp from Antwerp, to talk about the four C’s of diamond buying. Good morning, Tom. Say, that suit looks a little snug. Maybe you’ve been smuggling some Belgium chocolates along with your diamonds?”
“Uh, excuse me? The Twerp?”
“What? No, Tom, I said, Antwerp.”
“You did not, you called me a twerp.”
“OK, so what if I did? Somebody ought to liven up this lame commercial, but it’s your nickle. You wanna talk about the four C’s like it says here, or not?”
“Alright, ahem, the four C’s of diamond buying are Color, Clarity, Carat and Credit Report.”
“That’s right. The last C is the most important because it’s pretty much a standard among diamond importers that the husband should spend six years salary on the engagement ring, adjusted for raises, bonuses and inflation, of course. A clean credit history or a wealthy father to co-sign is a great way to start a marriage.”
“Tom, my best friend has found that special someone and he’s planning to propose. How big a diamond he should buy?”
“Good question, Bill. The size of the diamond is directly related to the depth and intensity of the love a man can have for a woman. This ring that I’m holding here, for instance, radiates just-about-perfect love. It’s a flawless, unique orange gem, 16 carats in weight and it comes with it’s own resting tripod when the lucky wearer tires from waving it in front of her friends.”
“Uh, you said flawless, Tom? I see some obvious cracks and blemishes. In fact, as I scratch at it with my fingernail …”
“Stop. You’ll ruin it. Give it to me and get back to the script. Where was I? Oh yes, people don’t realize that the engagement ring is an unspoken pre-nuptial agreement. A large, perfect, well-cut stone, purchased from me, Tom Shame, and not one of those horrible “mall” stores, says to the world that the man is pure, generous, faithful and can be trusted around goldfish.”
“What does a tiny diamond say, Tom?”
“Sadly, a tiny diamond shouts out to the world that the love and the romance is shallow, probably with something else going on. You know, there might be an old girlfriend smoldering in the underbrush or maybe there’s a kid in Des Moines he doesn’t want to talk about. Probably nothing as serious as a tragically fatal social disease, but nowadays you can’t rule anything out. The old saying, ‘Tiny Diamond, Tiny Virility’ is as true today as the day I made it up.”
“Really, Tom, that sounds like so much hogwash. Young couples today should be a lot more concerned about value than valuables. Everyone knows the price of diamonds is maintained by an artificial scarcity. If all the company-hoarded diamonds were dumped on the market, prices would plummet like the lumps of coal they are.”
“You hate me, don’t you, Bill?”
“No, Tom, I hate this rotten job pitching a product I don’t believe in. I’d rather be doing Ginzu knives or Ronco Salad Shooters. Let’s get back to the script so I can get paid for this lousy commercial, get to the tavern and slam a bucket of gin so I can live with myself. Gee, Tom, what’s a Cocktail Ring?”
“I thought you’d never ask. It so happens, I invented the Cocktail Ring, Bill. When customers come in, I keep feeding them cocktails until we come up with something gaudy enough to match their net worth. Then we hold their hand tightly as they sign the credit card slip.”
“No, they’re drunk. We, at the Shame Company, proudly insist upon complete customer satisfaction. Just as soon as our legal department is one-hundred percent satisfied there’s no way the customer can weasel out of the purchase agreement, the happy couple is whisked off to Detox where they will begin a life of stultifying servitude, struggling to pay off a frivolous debt incurred under the influence cheap gin. By the way, Bill, I hold the patent on the Tennis Bracelet as well.”
“Tom, I’ve heard people say that buying a diamond is stupid. They’d rather use the money for a reliable car or a down payment on a home.”
“What? I . . . I never heard anyone say that. People say that? What people, Bill? Who said that? Name names. I want to know who’s spreading that garbage. I’ll have the boys carve my initials on their heart and feed them to the pigs. I’ll boil their grandmothers. I’ll …”
Now you have a fiend in the diamond business.
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