George led us into his office. “Sit there, I’ll be back”, he said. Sit there all came out as one word, or cough. The CEO of Accent Media, Chip Atkins, and I adjusted to the room. The office was a modest space, clad 360 degrees in wood paneling. Papers, receipts, notices, and legal documents papered the paneled walls around George’s desk, clinging with crusty brown tape. On the far wall I spotted a framed photograph of two men shaking hands, and stood up to take a look. I recognized a younger George. Much younger, fitter, sporting a Magnum PI mustache and holding what may have been a rum and coke in his left hand. He clasped hands with a puffy haired Sylvester Stallone. “Dude!” I said. “George is shaking hands with Stallone in this picture! The 1970′s Stallone!”
George owns a pawn shop called the Gold Exchange. Year after year in December a new Gold Exchange Christmas commercial would air on the local TV stations, guaranteed to be plotless, badly produced, and starring George’s kids. Just enough to remind the viewer that at least for one month, there was indeed a Gold Exchange Pawn Shop in Youngstown. Maybe the kids finally grew old enough to mutiny, or George finally ran out of ideas. All I know is Chip comes into my office one late November afternoon and dumps a Gold Exchange spot in my lap. “Just come up with something,” he said. “Nothing great. Just okay. You know Gold Exchange stuff”. Oh yeah, I know Gold Exchange stuff, I thought. I also knew that even on a budget of near zero dollars, I could assemble a Christmas-themed commercial for a pawn shop that I knew would attract customers. I thought about being broke and having to buy Christmas presents. Then a treasure chest appeared in my mind. Was it that easy? A chest full of gold that one could trade in for cash? I knew that somewhere in the office, left by persons unknown, there was a wooden box that bore an interesting resemblance to a stereotypical treasure chest; that could do very nicely. I had just bought a cheap suction cup camera mount that enabled us the ability to shoot in the front seat of a small vehicle. Two guys driving in a car, one of which has being carrying around a chest full of gold for an unspecified amount of time, take it to the Gold Exchange, they get cash, end of commercial. Simple, and just silly enough to get the attention of the viewer. I allowed myself a small but self-satisfied smirk and a swig of lukewarm coffee. Now to run it by George.
Chip and I had decided the photo was probably around the Rocky II era when George reappeared. “Awright,” he said, as he dropped into the chair behind his desk. “Whatcha got for me?” So I told him. Went through my whole sale, just like I had run through in my head. A guy wants to buy Christmas gifts for his family, but he’s short on cash. He does have is a chest of gold, however. His friend recommends the Gold Exchange, and guy with extra gold has become guy with money. Hearing the plot out loud in my own voice added a new level of ridiculous to this pitch. My optimism about my idea was becoming cautious. I looked at George. He rolled his tongue around his mouth for a moment, pursed his lips. Damn, he’s even tasting my idea. His words came out so fast I didn’t even catch them.
“What was that?” I asked. George said, “I like it”.
Check out part two of the this post here.
Written by Dan Clark and Josh Good