Security At Risk
July 9, 2012 by JoBe Cerny
When I first built my studios, the insurance company insisted I install a security system. As far as I was concerned, it was a big waste of money. In twenty-six years, it didn’t prevent a single break-in. However the times a moth flew through a laser beam and triggered the alarm cost me untold amounts of money and lost sleep.
When I first designed the studio, I insisted that the building not take down the junky-looking work door that led to our studio. We had a nice door behind the work door. So when the studio was open the nice oak door was visible. When we closed at night, I hung a “janitor’s closet” sign on the work. If there was a night break-in potential thieves would rush past the “janitor’s closet” in search of better doors to open. The only two robberies we’ve ever had were in broad day light when the studio was open. In the first instance, we were doing ABC pilot auditions with Jane Alderman, and when everybody broke for lunch, a messenger service guy saw the studio was empty and stole the video camera off the tripod and walked out the door. In the second instance, an engineer was wearing headphones and somebody walked past him and unplugged a laptop computer from my desk and walked out the door with it.
The security system provider who installed our security system produced a big radio campaign using scare tactics to convince consumers their company’s system was necessary monthly expense if they wanted to be safe. I disagreed. Then one day, I got a call from one of my neighbors who owned an advertising agency and he asked me if I would be interested in writing a radio commercial campaign for a family owned business that needed to attract more customers. I asked what kind of business they owned . . . and he told me they installed security systems. The big security company we used was advertising heavily on the radio and it hurt their market share. Some things are just meant to be.
I sat down with them and in the initial meeting they wanted to do radio commercials just like the big security company did. I explained that would be the wrong approach. Fighting fire with fire isn’t as effective as fighting fire with a bucket of water. I suggested a totally different approach. We needed to create a friendly, helpful, likeable image for them. Security should make you feel safe -- not scared. We wanted people to call them and get to know them and remember their name, Fortress Security Systems. Since it was a family business, we wanted to create a trusting relationship between client and customer. And we also wanted to stress that there service wasn’t expensive.
It took a lot of talking, but the Father and Son thought these ideas made sense. So I wrote two humorous commercials. One was called: “Cheaper Than A Guard Dog and You Never Have To Feed It” and the other was called “Cheaper Than Your Unemployed Brother-In-Law Earl and You Never Have to Feed It.” We targeted radio air time to reach their biggest potential customer base. And then we waited.
Two weeks later, my neighbor called me. He said, “We had to pull the Fortress Security Systems radio commercials off the air.”
I was shocked. So I had to ask, “Why?”
“They got so many calls they had to regroup and triple the number of their installers. They are booked solid for several weeks. Once they catch up they plan to run the commercials for a second flight.”
So a few weeks passed and they put the commercials back on the air. And then I got another call from my neighbor. He did not sound happy. “Well, I got some bad news this time.”
“We lost our client.”
“I was shocked. Why?”
“The commercials you wrote pulled so much business away from the big security company, they decided to buy Fortress.”
Then two weeks later, I got a call from the Father and Son team. They were retired to Florida and wanted to thank me for paving their way to a very comfortable and lucrative retirement. And they said those two radio commercials were the best investment they ever made.