Fax machines, copiers and typewriters -- no matter what the brand -- have one thing in common. They break down.
It's on that premise that Baltimore's Eisner & Associates has designed a $4.5 million advertising campaign for Minolta Corp. business equipment dealers nationwide.
The contract will give almost an 8 percent boost to Eisner's annual billings of $57 million and could attract increased national attention to the agency's work.
The humorous campaign paints the Minolta dealer as a hero, saving its clients more quickly and efficiently than "the other guys" from what can be inconvenient, and sometimes costly, breakdowns in business machines.
The commercials are a takeoff on the spots Eisner created several years ago for Alan Elkin, a local Minolta dealer who owns Advance Business Systems in Baltimore.
Those spots, one of which featured Orioles manager Frank Robinson calling Mr. Elkin up for business equipment -- "Great service, lousy curve ball" -- have been credited with building Advance Business Systems' client base.
In November, the Alan Elkin ads got Eisner noticed by Minolta and helped it win the account.
Steven Eisner, the agency's chief executive, said the commercials will begin airing by mid-May around the country during news and sports programming, when Minolta's 25- to 54-year-old business equipment user hopefully will be watching TV.
One television spot shows an office worker confronted with an exploding copier. A Minolta dealer saves the day. While Minolta dealers are helping you with your business machines, "the competition is out fishing," the voice-over says while the video flashes to three red-faced men in a boat named "Pluto" trying to reel one in.
A radio spot features "Uncanny Manny," an "ever-vigilant and handsome Minolta copy dealer," who spends so much time helping customers that his wife hardly ever sees him and he forgets his 15th anniversary.
All the ads feature the sound of a discordant piano plunking in the background.
"We are trying to make the dealers endearing," said Byron Tucker, Eisner's executive vice president and creative director. "We want to make the dealer famous rather than the manufacturer. The umbrella theme is service."