The editor’s audience: [insert manly grunts here]

This morning I was reminded of a crucial editorial concept while standing in line at that most manly of places: AutoZone.

Autozone signs IMG_4222 sm

At first I noticed the poster of UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell lending his image to DuraLast batteries. Makes sense, right? Then I noticed all the other posters and started cracking up. Not because they were funny per se, but because of how plainly the DuraLast brand is pitching very specific ideas to a very specific audience that LOOOVES The Ice Man. Heck, I’m a fan myself – I spent 4 of the last 5 years cutting the UFC’s flagship Countdown to UFC show. IMDB will eventually back me up on this. Anyway.

On the poster featuring brake pads: “Tough enough to STOP ANYTHING you start.”

On a starter: “Go ahead and START SOMETHING. We dare you.”

With The Ice Man: “If your parts aren’t PROVEN TOUGH, Chuck ’em.”

On an alternator: “Packs ALL THE POWER of a roundhouse kick.”

On some sort of chassis assembly: “Put this stuff in and TAKE CONTROL.”

There are more, but you get the point. It’s not about car parts. It’s about connecting car parts to expressions of rugged individualism. Also, notice the color scheme in the store: Red. Orange. Blue. Green. Not a shade of teal or periwinkle to be seen, except for the in the custom seat cover aisle.

Now if you’re into market psychology you already know exactly what I’m talking about and why it’s so important – AutoZone must absolutely know their target audience, what they want, and why they shop there. It’s an overwhelmingly male audience who doesn’t want to spend the money having mechanics fix what they can fix better themselves for less money, dammit. We are self-sufficient, rugged men who take pride in fixing our own vehicles, thank you very much. Pardon me while I step outside to let out a Tarzan yodel:

AHHHH-ihh-uhh-ihh-uhh-ihh-UHHHH!!!!!tarzan yell

If you were editing a tv spot for AutoZone, would they want you to use a weepy violin solo with dreamy 3-second dissolves between shots? Heck no. They’d tell you to slam together shots with straight cuts, preferably playing over the Rolling Stones. Well, not the actual Stones, we don’t have the budget for them.

When you edit, be crystal clear on who your audience is, what they want, what they expect (or might not expect), and how they think. Edit accordingly.

If this seems like common sense to you, then fantastic. You might be interested to know I’ve built my editing career in Los Angeles by fixing the cuts of working professionals who don’t get this.

For more on this and many more ideas, check out EDIT BETTER: Hollywood-Tested Strategies for Powerful Video Editing by yours truly, Jeff Bartsch.

Gonna go add some oil to my car now. Grrr.

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