Thursday + Gregory Huffstutter = The Ad Man Answers
Thursday + Gregory Huffstutter = The Ad Man Answers
Advertising Make-Over #3
Continuing our series, the Ad Man has chosen the next “winner”… Katherine Howell.
Here’s the back cover copy from Katherine’s soon-to-be-released thriller THE DARKEST HOUR:
Paramedic Lauren Yates stumbles into a world of trouble the night she discovers a dead man in an inner city alley – the killer still lurks nearby. When the murderer threatens to make her life hell if she tells the police, she believes him – he’s Thomas Werner, her sister’s ex and father to Lauren’s niece…and not a man to mess with.
But when a stabbing victim tells her with his dying breath that Werner attacked him too, she finds herself with blood on her hands and Detective Ella Marconi on her back.
Ella knows Lauren is the perfect witness, but when Lauren tries to change her statement, Ella realizes that Lauren is hiding something. The harder she digs into the paramedic’s past, the more Lauren resists, and the worse the threat from Werner becomes.
Will Ella’s investigation put her career on the line? Can Lauren keep her family safe? Or will they all – Ella included – pay the ultimate price?
It’s too bad that TNT cancelled “Saved” after one season, because that would’ve been the perfect property to tie in with Katherine’s novel.
The next best option would probably be FX’s “Rescue Me,” which has similar themes (only with screwed up firefighters instead of screwed up paramedics). Buying network TV commercial time is generally out of reach for most authors not named Patterson, but “Rescue Me” was hamstrung by the Writer’s Guild strike, pushing the ’08 season into Spring ’09. To bridge this gap, “Rescue Me” been showing original “minisodes” online, which are available for sponsorship and have been averaging 100,000-200,000 viewings per episode.
At a $30 CPM – the common price for online pre-roll– purchasing a commercial for 200,000 video plays would cost around $6,000. Not cheap, but Katherine’s initial release of THE DARKEST HOUR is in Australia, and one of the benefits of online advertising is the geo targeting possibilities.
If Katherine just bought the “Rescue Me” video views originating from an Australian ISP – let’s say 10% of the total – then for $600 Katherine could potentially reach 20,000 Aussies that enjoy stories about rescue workers enough to seek out online webisodes. Of course, this pre-supposes that Katherine has the means to produce a 15-second or 30-second book trailer, and she can find a contact at FX (or FOX8 down under) to sell her just the Australian audience… but this is an example of how the Internet makes it possible to piggy-back on a major, international TV property without breaking the budget.
Due to the subject matter, medical professionals would also be a natural audience for THE DARKEST HOUR, but it’s difficult to place advertising in hospitals. What Katherine may be able to do, though, is reach hospital workers through their paychecks. In the US, companies like Payday Perx and AdChek specialize in printing ads on payroll stubs. If she was able to find an Australian company offering a similar service, Katherine could catch those ER workers when they’ve got a fresh infusion of cashola in their bank accounts.
No matter how Katherine ultimately advertises her book, she’s already won half the battle with a stylish, well-designed author homepage. One idea to drive repeat traffic to her website would be to host a User-Generated video contest similar to eBillme’s “Shop and Confess.”
The topic could be: “Tell us about your darkest hour.” Viewers would be encouraged to submit a short video – disguised faces acceptable – talking about the most difficult period of their lives. Ideally, these confessionals would encourage voyeuristic viewing as fans voted for their favorite “low points.”
To encourage submissions, Katherine could offer a grand prize that relates back to her book. A portable defibrillator would be appropriate, but pricey. Another prize possibility could be a free hour of therapy at the winner’s favorite shrink.
Kicking off the contest, Katherine could film an actress playing the paramedic Lauren, her face in shadows, doing a confessional about how she knew about a murder and kept quiet. This video could be rotated with the other user submissions, then re-purposed into her book trailer.
Picture an Australian “Rescue Me” fan going to watch a new online webisode, but before their video starts, this pops up…
User video 1: “The night I slept with my wife’s sister—”
Cut to user video 2: “—never gave back the money even though he trusted—”
Cut to user video 3: “—my face covered in vomit, and if they hadn’t pumped my stomach—”
Cut to user video 4: “—could she leave me? After I’d given the bitch everything—”
Cut to user video 5: “—hearing my mother died.”
Title slide and voice over: “What was your darkest hour?”
Cut to actress playing Lauren: “I tried everything to save him – Ambu bag, CPR, IV, laryngoscope. When he bled out, I wanted to do the right thing, go to the police, tell them what I saw… but they didn’t know Thomas… what he could do to my sister, my niece. And now I have even more blood on my hands…”
Title slide and voice over: “Hear more at KatherineHowell.com. THE DARKEST HOUR. Click here to order from Amazon.com.”
So that leaves two more advertising makeovers. It’s not too late to enter… if you’re interested, leave a book description and homepage URL in the comments section. I’ll draw the next “winner” from the pool of all entries, including the authors who signed up the previous columns.
Gregory Huffstutter has been punching Ad Agency timecards for the past decade, working on accounts like McDonald's, KIA Motors, and the San Diego Padres. He recently finished his first mystery, KATZ CRADLE and is currently on submission. The first 100 pages of his novel are linked here. For general advertising questions, leave a comment or send e-mail to katz @ gregoryhuffstutter dot com with 'Ask The Ad Man' in the subject line.