Advertising Age

El Toro Watch No. 104

It's a shame the entry deadline for advertising's Clio Awards was March 1 because county officials are preparing for a golden opportunity to win some glory. Soon, the county will spend $151,620 on a series of television commercials and talk-show-style infomercials promoting the proposed El Toro International Airport.

We can see it now: board chairman Charles ("Call me Chuck") Smith and county executive officer Jan Mittermeier playing tug of war over the megaphone and arguing over who gets to sit in the director's chair; El Toro program manager Courtney Wiercioch sitting in makeup, trying to say the line "It's lean, and it's green" without giggling; development kingpin George Argyros primping in a mirror offstage, trying to make his comb-over look natural.

Ostensibly designed to "communicate the facts" about El Toro to county residents, the five 30-second spots should feature the county's slickest, most creative spin yet. But a proposed script unearthed by The Orange County Register on April 22 isn't encouraging.

"Commercial planes are much quieter than military jets, so that's good news for neighbors," the proposed copy reads. That's great, except the script goes on to assert that "there are no homes and no schools in the noise-impact area." If no one lives near the base, what difference does it make which plane is louder?

Shooting these flashy, glitzy commercials shouldn't be a problem. This is, after all, the county that once trusted a treasurer who obtained investment advice from a psychic. Hollywood is just a half-hour drive (four hours during traffic) north on the 5 freeway. And there are more than enough hack writers and script "consultants" to choose from.

And of course, the Weekly stands ready to help with a few ideas of our own. How about filming Wiercioch as she stands amid the throngs of travelers at the John Wayne Airport terminal, talking in that sweet, slightly condescending way of hers about how passenger demand is rising and rising. The only real expense: busing in a few hundred extras to stand in the near-empty terminal.

Or try picturing Wiercioch standing in Irvine's William Mason Park, talking up the great parkland the county will be putting in around the new airport. To simulate the nearby airport, a small child could run around behind her with a model airplane. If the small child isn't available, use 2nd District Supervisor Jim Silva.

 
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