Pam charges the camera

Sunday, January 31st, 1999

Maybe I wasn’t the only one who noticed that WAGA…er, Fox 5 was eating everyone’s lunch when it came to the Falcons march to the Super Bowl. The slumbering promo machines at WXIA and WSB came to life, claiming that no, they were your station for the Atlanta Falcons. They had the inside dope, the reporters players trust, and saturation coverage that would annoy even the dirtiest of early 1960s Ford compact cars. (Hey, my Dad drove a 1964 Falcon; consider that reference a brief tribute to him.)
But that’s the problem with promos, and the challenge for all promo people, be they television, radio, or print. Deep down beneath all that hype there has to be the slightest germ of truth…a tiny nugget of veracity that the rest of the wretched excess can hang on, and when it isn’t there, it’s easy for the viewer to take one look and say "Naaah," and hit the remote.
You can have Pam Martin come charging at the camera from across the newsroom at full tilt, but when all she has to say is "live, local, latebreaking, that’s Channel 2 Action News," she has just delivered a completely content-free fastball that went sizzling toward my head—leaving nothing in its wake. Back to your desk, Pam…live, local, sheesh. Channel 2 needs to have an emergency operation and have at least two of its dozen or so slogans surgically removed.
And then there are those spots for a certain large Atlanta daily that show us how people who want it all can do it all—they just have to cook up recipes from the paper while reading the business section about where their boss should build their next project (the actress points to Gwinnett county and says something like "This is a real growth area." Really? Alert the media!) and, oh, by the way, check your horoscope to find the mate of your dreams. The nugget of reality may have been in this commercial at one time, but it left in disgust.
And so do we, switching the channel.
"Hi folks, we’re here for another two hours…"
Look, you can have Tom Park and the lovely whoever-she-is in their winter overcoats making as if the Atlanta Toyota spot they’re slamming your way is happening right now, live from the car lot, but when you turn the TV on in Florida and see the same duo pulling the same hustle for Toyota of Orlando (and how many other dealerships?) the whole "we only have two left" thing seems a little lame.
It’s back to that germ of truth, and you might laugh, but it can be found in the most pathetic places. The guy on the Wolfman Furniture spots really is just about that much fun to be around; his on-camera awkwardness is that tiny tidbit of real that lets you work with the rest of the contrivance.
Yes, I am saying I’m more likely to buy furniture from the Wolfman than a car from Tom Park.
Just not very likely in either case.