I enjoy Jay Shepherd’s blog postings at both Gruntled Employees and at The Client Revolution. I think that his posts are pithy, witty and urbane. It’s his method, though, that I find to be the most interesting aspect of his production. I often wonder: What does Jay do to find his object lessons, his apt, everyday examples that help explain more complex legal and business concepts? Is he sitting in the barbershop getting a fresh ‘do when old Ralph says something that moves him to construct a blog? Is he watching Top Chef on Bravo when Tom Colicchio dresses some contestant down for a mistake that is like to one that big law might make? Is he rolling down the highway with the moon roof opened listening to Willie Nelson when the way the sun is striking upon the passenger’s side visor moves him toward writing? No, that’s crazy. Jay Shepherd wouldn’t listen to Willie Nelson. I see him as more of a Son Volt guy.

But, now I know. I had a Jay Shepherd moment yesterday, at the gym, on the treadclimber, watching the Red Sox (on commercial break).

(Explanatory: Don’t worry, Jay, I’m not stealing your schtick: this is a one-time only thing for me. Besides, I like to write blog posts that are about 9,000 words longer than this one will be. Blovels, macroblogging: may be outside the client revolution, ya dig.)

. . .

Strangely absent from the general web, but ubiquitous lately, during the commercial breaks from Red Sox telecasts, has been a commercial for the paid-text-for-answers provider, KGB, the “Knowledge Generation Bureau”, which features the protagonists conversing over baseball signs respecting the last Red Sox no-hitter: Jon Lester; May 19, 2008, in case you were wondering–here’s an extremely illegal reproduction.

But lo, here is the exact same commercial, with the exact same protagonists, only this one features the Yankee version of something of the same discussion respecting the last Yankees perfect game: David Cone; July 18, 1999.

So what? You ask. So what? Well, what it is is that this is a fairly ingenious piece of marketing. First, it’s a fun concept; but, that’s nothing earth-shattering. People are funny. Second, though, is that the characters are not speaking to each other: they are using baseball signs to communicate, and what they are saying is expressed in subtitles. This means that the subtitles can answer for the same general question (last no-hitter/perfect game by home team) in any American baseball city, assuming that team’s city has a no-hitter or perfect game to its credit. The only spoken word segment represents the punchline to the joke (“Your fly is down.”), which is generic, and could be generally applied for an ad in any city. KGB, then, has produced one ad, which can be easily repurposed for use in any city in America with a professional baseball team. In fact, the ad is so generic that any sports-related, or other, subject matter, for that matter, could be covered, as long as it comes to meet the extended punchline. KGB was able to produce a winning advertisement that could be easily repurposed, and that could still appear unique to various viewers. Plus, they saved a bunch of money filming one ad, rather than thirty or so.

If you can think outside the batter’s box, and can apply this same sort of cost-effective, but effective, application to your advertising, you’ll be hitting a home run.

(Postscript: Of course, the one question I can’t answer is why on Earth anyone would use a service like KGB, when there is already a free alternative out there. IT’S CALLED GOOGLE.)