I'm not an advertising genius, but put an outrageous image in front of me enough times and I can't get it out of my head. Currently haunting me is the bearded "Psycho-Killer" being used in a variety of ads for LowerMyBills.com.
Who is he?
Is he real or Photoshopped?
Why use HIM to sell...well... anything?
I sent out a tweet asking if anyone knew the guy. "Check San Quentin" someone suggested.
I wrote to the parent company of LowerMyBills, Experian, to seek answers. "I'm glad to hear that you enjoy our advertisements," Experian's Lexie Puckett wrote back. "Unfortunately, information related to the development of specific advertisements is proprietary. So I can't share that. I can tell you that all of our advertisements are created by our internal Marketing Department."
Here's another one of the images they use.
Since I can't get information on how the company comes up with this stuff, it's time to speculate.
Here's my idea of what one of those "internal Marketing Department" meetings might be like.
LowerMyBills marketing exec #1 (played by Ed Begley, Jr.): "We're not drawing enough traffic off our web banner ads, people. I need ideas!"
LMB exec #2 (Parker Posey): "Naked women?"
LMB exec #3 (Harry Shearer): "Naked fat women?"
LMB exec #1: "A perfect fit for our product message!"
LMB exec #4 (Eugene Levy): "I've got a better idea! People who need to lower their bills are losers, right?"
Room chuckles in agreement.
LMB exec #4: "So let's find a picture of the biggest loser."
LMB exec #1: "Hmmm, smart, very smart. Where would we find such a person...maybe in this room?"
Everyone eyes Eugene Levy. He does look kinda crazy.
LMB exec #4: "Not me! San Quentin! No one needs bills lowered more than some guy on Death Row, right?"
Room mutters in agreement.
LMB exec #1: "You're a genius! I want to scare the hell out of America to sell...what is it we're selling again?"
And the rest is internet advertising history.
I'm not alone in trying to track down the guy in the ad. Blogger Colleen Kanewants to find him as well.
"My husband and I are being Internet-stalked by the above stumblebum, who for some unfathomable reason is popping up in our ads all the time," she writes. "While I agree this man would be ideal for advertising certain products and services—serial killing, bedbug treatments, urine stain removers—I can't imagine why his image keeps popping up in these other ads. Does anyone computery have an explanation?"
One interesting response she received: "Google has the technology now to do 'face-targeted' ads. What they do is take all your google searches and browsing history, and try to calculate what you'd consider the most trustworthy face based on that."
"It's like 'if they mated', but driven by keywords," says the writer. "Google (the phrase) 'head shop' and the guy grows a scraggly beard. Type in 'snuggies' and he puts on 100 pounds, etc. What that says about you guys, I don't know."
Meantime, another writer responded with a link to Experianhighlighting the success of its grabby ads. "If you look at the 6th slide here you'll find several of their awful creations from times past." In the seventh slide the company says it won an award in 2007 for its online media campaigns, and it was also the top spender in online advertising in August 2008 (before the great fall).
Here's my offer. Crazy-Looking Mountain Man, if you're out there and you're real, email me. I want to know who you are and if you're making any money. I feel like I know you, "Psycho-Killer" Scary Pitchdude. This is a safe zone for you. Talk to me.
We can be pen pals while you're in the pen....KIDDING
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