Dharma and Greg. The Big Bang Theory. Two and a Half Men. Rosanne. Grace Under Fire. Mike and Molly. The Kominsky Method...
You might not know the name Chuck Lorre, but if you watch television comedies, the odds you've watched something he's written or produced over his career to date is very, very high.
I like a lot of Lorre's work, but as a marketer, there's something else about his shows I've always especially appreciated: his vanity cards.
A vanity card is a logo used by a movie or TV production company as a way to brand its production; it usually appears at the end of the film or TV episode. In most cases, you see a static image. In some cases, instead of just a logo, you'll see a short animation with a sound bite. (Who remembers hearing, "Sit, Ubu, sit. Good dog. RUFF!"?)
At some point, Chuck Lorre decided to do something very unique with his vanity cards.
Instead of a traditional logo or quick graphic, he'd tell the audience a funny little story.
Sometimes it would be an image, a few words, or a quick quip. But more often than not, he'd share several paragraphs that would provide a hearty laugh or an amusing insight...
... assuming you took the time to discover what he shared, that is.
You see, vanity cards flash on the screen for just a few seconds. So to read everything Lorre wrote, you had to pause the show as soon as the vanity card appeared.
That's easier to do these days when you're watching on-demand television, but Dharma & Greg premiered in 2002... which means to read the vanity cards at that time, you'd have to TIVO your show (or record it with your VCR) then go back to the vanity card and hit pause.
Every television show already ended with a vanity card, but they were dull and unremarkable.
Chuck Lorre recognized vanity cards represented an underutilized asset and decided he would put them to work. And in doing so, he made people pay attention.
James Gunn did the same thing with the opening sequence for Peacemaker.
Most of us skip the opening sequence of the television shows we watch, but I don't know anybody who skips the opening sequence of Peacemaker. Quite the opposite; I keep a copy of the video on my phone and watch it when I'm in a bad mood to cheer myself up.
Gunn also saw an underutilized asset -- the opening sequence -- and decided to make it something worthy of our collective attention.
Here's the thing: underutilized assets are everywhere.
Is your product packaging remarkable?
What about your UPC codes?
Your storefront? Your delivery vehicles?
Your website? Your robot.txt file?
Your Customer Thank-You emails? Your Unsubscribe page?
It isn't always easy to recognize all your underutilized assets.
It's even more difficult to turn them into something remarkable worth people's attention.
But what better way to stand out than to give customers an unexpected delight?
* There's some tremendously funny stuff written in Chuck Lorre's vanity cards, and if you find yourself wanting to procrastinate at some point, you should have a look.