The Power of a TV Commercial

September 8, 2018

There are TV Commercials, and there are TV Commercials. 


A vast majority of them entirely forgettable. And then there are some which are indelibly etched in your mind and bring a smile to your face every time you happen to recall the words, the expressions, and images from deep down your memory lane.


And then there is this EF Hutton Commercial from almost 40 years ago which shaped and moulded my persona and character which in turn replicates itself in the Company which I run today with great pride and joy.


In the years 1974–1978, as a graduate student in Nashville, I used to go home in the evenings and watch the day’s news on WLAC TV, an affiliate of CBS with the affable Chris Clark as the news anchor and Oprah Winfrey his sidekick. Yes, the very same Oprah.


For me Chris Clark is memorable for his layman Americanisms such as “Vehicle moving at a great rate of speed” and “Newkilear” and many more such patently American usages, more common in the vocabulary of the South.


I do not remember Oprah from that time for any great accomplishments—remarkable in light of her later rise from a near non-entity to a superstar.  Now back to the TVC’s that refuse to fade away:


1)  Karl Malden with his bulbous buffoon nose and his trademark hat holding up an American Express Travellers cheque, admonishing the viewer, “Don’t Leave Home without them”


2) Brother Dominic for Xerox—the novice scribe in a dark candle-lit monastery presents a tome, his labour of love to the senior monk who after due scrutiny is so pleased with the work that he promptly orders 500 copies of the script to be made. Unfazed, Br. Dominic goes to the Xerox print shop, (Xerox had just then launched the 9200 machine) saves himself decades of manual copying and presents on the same day the 500 sets, neatly bound to his superior. At first, a look of utter disbelief on his face; the Abbot then looks up heavenwards and exclaims in hushed tones “It’s a Miracle !”


And now the seminal commercial which guides me and continues to be the torchbearer for me to this day.


3) EF Hutton the brokerage firm, ran a series of TV commercials in varied settings all of which had a single common thread. In the midst of a motley crowd, in a noisy environment two friends are talking stocks, shares, and the stock market, when one of them says “well my broker is EF Hutton and EF Hutton says...”. In that instant, all at once, there is pin drop silence, all heads turn, ears pricked to catch what EF Hutton had to say. And after few moments of pregnant pause, the tag line—"When EF Hutton talks, people listen”


and several more. 


Ever since those days, the EF Hutton ad has been the polestar guiding me to my singular goal in life to achieve that status, “When Kodavasal talks, people listen”, or now for the company which I run, “When Ecotech talks, people listen”.


I believe I am more than halfway there!

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