Cause For Alarm

For many of us, the alarm clock is one of the most important devices we own. It wakes us up (or tries to, at least) and makes us roll out of bed to get us up and on our way so we’re not late for work, school, church or dragon-fighting practice.

The most common forms of alarm clock are the classic twin-bell model, the more modern beep-beep varieties and the ubiquitous clock-radio, which allows you to wake up to the soothing sounds of the daily hog report or the last ten seconds of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”. More recently, our cell phones have become our alarm clocks, with a seemingly-infinite array of ringtones, songs and apps to jar us from our blessed slumber.

I’ve tried them all, but with mixed results. So, in my never-ending quest to stay employed, I’ve dabbled in more exotic fare.

I own a Zen alarm clock that lets out a single, harmonious strike on a small, Tibetan-style bell, then strikes again after three and a half minutes, then another in half that time, and so on and so on until I turn it off. It gently lifts me out my slumber without being rude or annoying.

I also have a curious little model from Target called “Clök” that allows me to wake up to the sounds of a babbling brook that progressively gets louder and louder until I finally turn it off. I was attracted to it because the name has an umlaut in it, and even though the recording sounds more like somebody dropping tiny little ball bearings on several frogs and a xylophone, it’s a nice way to start the day.

My favorite wake-up device is the Good Morning Sir Alarm Clock, which starts with chirping birds followed by the dulcet tones of valet Reginald Jeeves (Stephen Fry) waking up his fabulously wealthy employer (me) with a dry wit and gentle urgency. With well over a hundred different recordings contained within its classically-styled case, this clock actually comes frighteningly close to making me actually want to wake up just to hear what it has to say, and it almost always leaves me with a smile. It also allows me to pretend to be fabulously wealthy, if just for a moment or two.

By now you’re probably wondering why the heck I’m going on and on about alarm clocks. Well, if you think about it, advertisements are an awful lot like alarm clocks, only instead of interrupting your sleep, they interrupt the program you were watching, the music you were listening to or the story you were reading. Like the aforementioned alarm clocks, these interruptions can be jarring, annoying, seamless, slept through, memorable or sometimes even looked forward to.

I once had a roommate who owned an alarm clock that could shame an air raid siren and strip the paint off a barn three counties away. If there had been a shotgun in the house back then, it would’ve been taken to that blasted alarm clock. From a marketing perspective, you do not want your advertising to have that sort of effect on people. Especially if you don’t want to end up in the ER having buckshot tweezed out of your keister.

Advertising says a lot about your business. It can be your number one salesman, but can also be your number one enemy. Do it right and you’ll do all right. Do it wrong and people might just metaphorically hit snooze or throw you out the window.

This is your wake-up call.


— Clayton Hove is the KK BOLD creative director, concept cowboy, dragonslayer and recovering night owl.

Originally posted in the KK BOLD Blog. Creative Commons photo by Alan Cleaver.

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