Editors Note:

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Making the MarVan

I haven't ALWAYS been a news man. At one point I joined the Dark Side. That's right...Station Promotions. For a couple of painful years I served as Chief Harbinger of In-House Tripe for a station ninety minutes East of Raleigh.

I answered straight to the GM, a man of towering smarm who's immense unlikability was matched only by his unbridled ambition . Evil as he was, the man was an idea machine, constantly spewing out elaborate promo campaigns and looking to me to bring them to the screen. I usually managed to do so, despite working with the very latest in twenty-five year old technology.

One day the unlikable hack walked in spewing hype and promises about the 'Pinpoint Weather System'...a series of weather data stations spread throughout our market sending back real time temperatures and conditions with 'pinpoint accuracy'.

To sex it all up, the plan called for one mobile weather station, a tricked out Ford Aerostar with our weatherman's picture plastered on the side and a high-dollar wind sock blowing in the breeze. We'd traverse our hyphenated market in this rolling billboard spewing forth weather data and soaking up the love from viewers dazzled by our high-tech brilliance.

But none of this could happen until I built a dozen or so thirty second spots from scratch, using nothing much more than cheesy in-house graphics and our goofy weather guy to hype the imminent arrival of 'Pinpoint Weather'. So I slogged ahead, chain-smoking over my Macintosh and conjuring up cliches until I had enough scripts for the new "PinPoint Mobile Weather Van".

Soon a non-descript stripped-down Ford Aerostar arrived at the station. Once the local stock car racing detailers completed their work, it sported flashy logos and an oversized picture of our chief meterologist's silly mug. It only took the 'Pinpoint' guys a few hours to install the funky weather antenna, after which I took our newly pimped-out ride to a curvy road for a series of beauty shots. With an assistant driving my pick-up, I sat in the bed with a betacam as we made endless loops around the damn thing. It was the middle of summer and I picked bugs out of my teeth for days afterward.

WIth scripts voiced, footage shot and graphics cut, I sequestered myself in an old match-frame edit suite for the better part of a week. When I emerged I had a series of flashy vignettes breathlessly extolling the virtues of our new 'Pinpoint' weather technology. With each spot, I showed a little more of The Van, the last of them featuring every trick shot of the cursed boxy vehicle I could come up with, most of which are still imprinted on my frontal lobe.

When the campaign hit the airwaves, it was deemed a big success, and I received much praise from the man I was quickly becoming convinced was the Spawn of Satan. Beelzebub even hired some flunky to drive the van around the region, making sure he theatrically polished it's fender at every stop. For quite some the van, its windsock and driver consumed my every waking moment. What fun!

Still, the 'Pinpoint Mobile Weather Van' didn't really register with our viewers until an anchor happened to rename it. One night she threw to Chief Meteorologist Marvin Daugherty with a poke at the new station vehicle that bore his likeliness.

"Hey, I saw you earlier in the Mar-Van!"

The words had no more left her lips when my GM seized on the marketing possibilities. Soon I was back at my Mac, cranking out cheesy new scripts that yucked it up about the "Mar-Van". We ran the new spots into the ground until the buzz took hold. Soon 'The Mar-Van' entered the local lexicon and we hoked it up for far more than it was ever worth.

Eventually I escaped the forces of Promo Darkness and landed in a newsroom hours away. But back home the Mar-Van still cruises the coastal plains and stops at every wombat festival along the way. I know this, because I see it in my dreams.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a blast from the past. I remember this whole debacle like it was yesterday. From the front row. Ah, that infamous GM. I hated that barber chair. And the piranas. Most of all though....I just hated him.