Yellow Book Ad Offers Path to Enlightment -- or at Least a Plumber

David Carradine as the Zen Sage of Local Business Marketing

By Published on .

Some people don't believe that Google is God, and that's fine for them.

Although parting the Red Sea could easily be explained by stiff east winds, try explaining 92,500 disquisitions on that subject produced in 0.24 seconds. Or finding a connection among three random nouns: porphyria, pomegranate and Paul Anka. Google did it in less than half a second. We prayed to "God" with the same request; he didn't even get back to us.

Or let's just say you were the Yellow Pages and somebody said: "God wants to destroy you!" You'd smile wanly and back away as quickly as you could without provoking the nutbag. But if you were the Yellow Pages and were warned, "Google wants to destroy you," that there is scary.

By the way ... Yellow Pages: Google wants to destroy you.

Yellow Pages vs. Google
And is in the process of doing so, as ever more Americans stand ankle deep in backed-up sewage and let their fingers do the walking not through six-pound directories but on keyboards, Googling their hometowns and "plumber." But the Yellow Pages aren't fully smote quite yet, for a variety of reasons:

1) Habit. Many consumers are conditioned to the analog way of seeking local services, and many small businesses are conditioned to doing things as they've always been done.

2) Adaptation. Various publishers have embraced online tools of their own. They're often cumbersome and counterintuitive, but they're getting some market share.

3) The sales force. Google has nothing like the network of reps out there in Everytown, USA, visiting every car dealer and personal-injury lawyer in town. Nor does Google likely have much interest in creating one. God does not subcontract.
Engage Garfield directly in his new blog.
Engage Garfield directly in his new blog.

4) Cultural equity. This is not nothing, and it is more than just habit. It is more about comfort, which can trump even logic. Why do we adopt the religions of our parents? Because we grew up with them.

Yellow Book's cultural familiarity
This is where advertising comes in -- not merely to inform us about Yellow Pages' advantages and (insufficient) innovations, but to remind us what the institution means to us. Credit, then, Yellow Book and Trahan, Burden & Charles, Baltimore, for not only taking on God with a spirituality of their own, but also tapping into a rich vein of cultural familiarity.

The campaign features David Carradine, who has spent 30 years portraying martial artists and other characters steeped in Eastern religion. Here he plays to type, as a Zen master of search, kimono-clad and seated in the lotus position, guiding a young disciple along the path ... to, like, a local electrician.

Kid: How did you become such a great master?



Carradine: Everyone is searching for something.

Pretty funny. Carradine chews the scenery here, overstating his understatement, and it's fun to watch. Also ... well, instructive.

Carradine: Let's say "pizza" makes you happy. Just type in what and where.

Kid: But, Master, how do you show them the way?

Carradine: has a map feature. Infinite information.

Casting makes perfect sense
Whereas, come to think about it, Googling local businesses is still pretty haphazard. We're generally not too keen on plucking ad icons from far back in the pop culture, but as the guru of search, this casting makes perfect sense, and the tongue-in-cheek performance strikes just the right tone.

Good for Yellow Book, although this would have been better still for the Yellow Pages associations as a group. Because, pending some one-button search technology on GPS-equipped mobile phones, it looks like at least one publisher might have this battling-God situation reasonably well in hand.

Now all they have to worry about is Angie's List.

~ ~ ~
Review: 3 stars
Ad: Yellow Pages
Agency: Trahan, Burden & Charles
Location: Baltimore
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