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We hear crickets? 什么也没听到

中国日报网 2018-07-24 10:58


Reader question:

Please explain “we hear crickets” in this passage, in which Hillary Clinton calls Trump’s performance in his meeting with Putin “deeply disturbing” and a “mystery” (Clinton: Trump-Putin a ‘mystery’, Russia may attack election infrastructure, TheGuardian.com, July 22, 2018):

“We don’t know what was said in the room between them,” she said. “Putin is telling the world what was said but we hear crickets from the White House. Make no mistake this is a direct attack on our democracy. The idea that we are not sure where our own president stands is deeply disturbing.”

My comments:

She meant to say “we hear nothing” from the White House.

Nothing but the chirping of crickets, that is.

In other words, the whole House-hold is quiet, deadly quiet.

We hear crickets chirp, mostly during the night. During day time, crickets call their mates too but their chirping is usually drowned out by the hum and ding of the environs. It is in the dead of the night that the crickets make the clearest noises. When everything else is quiet, we realize their chirpings are actually very pleasant to hear, and they are loud, too.

Anyways, as a metaphor, when someone says we hear crickets, they mean to say we hear silence, deafening silence. And they mean to emphasize that it shouldn’t be that way.

When someone in government is caught for wrong doing, for example, we often hear crickets from higher government. In other words, no-one responds.

Or, if someone makes a bad joke or otherwise shockingly inappropriate remark at a dining table, we hear crickets because everyone is shocked into silence. Instead of saying anything, all look down at their plates.

In our example, Hillary Clinton wonders why Donald Trump and his staff and aids in the White House have remained mum about what he actually talked about with Vladimir Putin.

To Clinton, it’s very disquieting.

Hillary ran against Donald head to head during the election in 2016, if you recall (Sounds like a long time ago, isn’t it?). It is little wonder that Clinton questions Trump’s behavior at Helsinki in particular and Trump’s conduct in general. After, in many ways, these two foes are sky and earth in contrast. Clinton is a tested career politician. Trump is a bumbling billionaire and a loudmouth.

Both are ambitious but Clinton merely wants to be a good president. Trump, on the other hand, wants to make America break again.

Did I say “make America break again”?

I said “make America great” again. You heard it wrong.

That’s what I’ll say while Trump’s still in the White House, just for the sake of keeping up.

But, seriously, I do think Trump will make America break again. It’s happening already. Americans are so divided today that even the name of United States begins to sound funny.

Funny strange, that is, not funny ha-ha.

All right, no more ado, here are recent media examples of the American idiom hearing crickets:

1. There are more than 10 reasons infomercials and short form spots fail. However, we wanted to outline some of the clearly avoidable and not-so-obvious pitfalls where we see many product owners and companies stumble through this process.

So, even if you’re already a savvy marketer, this article will serve to reinforce your genius or surprise even you.

I’ve interviewed Jeff Kurani who’s happy to share some of his thoughts on why some infomercials fail. Kurani founded Tekno Products Inc., delivering sales of more than $100 million annually while manufacturing and distributing hundreds of popular high quality products such as BootyMax, Draw Jammies and Quick Taco. The award-winning Draw Jammies sold 1.7 million units in the first five months. With personal sales of more than $1.5 billion, Kurani has secured more than 90 active SKUs at major retailers in the United States and abroad in the household, hardware, tools, sporting goods, and health/beauty care categories.

With his over 20 years’ experience in the licensing, manufacturing and distribution business industry, he has seen various types of infomercials that are cringe-worthy.

So, let’s what most of these failed infomercials have in common.

# 10 Dentists Performing Brain Surgery

Mistake: Not hiring infomercial experts & underestimating the need and value of a specialist.

Now that sounds ridiculous! Who in their right mind would let a dentist perform brain surgery? But, they’re both doctors. They both went to medical school. They both have some of the same equipment. And even though you might save a little money if you let the dentist do it… it’s just not worth it. Why? Because they have totally different specialties! And the same goes for the company that creates your infomercial.

Don’t let some video production company that makes all sorts of other kinds of videos make your infomercial. Because unless they specialize in direct response marketing there is no way they understand all the nuances, and critical decisions that go into a production that is designed to sell. From the scripting to offer development, product positioning, and backend such as call centers, and so much more. Every element makes a difference, a significant difference.

Now maybe this isn’t brain surgery but there certainly many aspects of the project that require a specialist. So, do yourself a favor and hire a company that makes infomercials and ONLY infomercials to handle your project. Other companies may have the equipment to make you a video, but if all the time and money and effort is wasted on something that is destined to fail what’s the point.

#9 Mops and Mattresses

Mistake: Trying to sell a niche product through mass media

I like to use this example because every home has a mop and a mattress. Whether it’s a million-dollar mansion and they have a ten-thousand-dollar mattress and their live-in maid uses the mop or it’s a middle-class family. Everyone needs it.

You must ask yourself, “Does our product have a broad appeal?” Does it appeal to the masses? Does it have enough of a potential audience to be run across many channels? Because the broader the market the more likely your success.

As an example, if your product is for Great Dane owners’ TV is probably not for you. If it’s for ALL dogs then, yes. My point is very niche products are generally not good TV products.

Now I can give you dozens of examples of successful products just for golfers, fishermen, women, children, men over 50 and more. But those tend to be the exception to the rule, rather than the rule. So, when you are considering direct response television keep in mind its mass media, and mass retailers that make up the majority of the sales.


#2 Running A Marathon and Giving Up 2 Feet from The Finish Line

Mistake: Not budgeting properly for testing and not properly analyzing the results.

There are instances of projects that simply don’t have a pulse and have no chances of resuscitation, period. No matter what you offer, or what you do, it’s not going to make money on TV.

But the truth is we see far more projects that fall into the gray area. Not a bomb and not a runaway success out of the gate. This is where many unseasoned companies fail. They make a spot, test the media, and get marginal results. Not terrible, not great, but don’t understand how to develop the backend or create additional streams of profit and income with upsells, cross marketing promotions, online digital media, etc. that can turn a so-so project into a winning campaign. It is at this critical juncture where the project is abandoned or left for dead.

You have to ask the right questions; Can the offer be tweaked? Did the creative fall short? Is the offer right? Is there lots of interest but a low close rate? Was the media, right? Was it the right call center?

True Story: We had produced a great spot, the offer was strong, the product seemed like a winner, and after the media ran… we heard crickets. We got just a handful of calls. The results were so bad, I called the 800#’s myself to make sure they were working. The client was ready to abandon the whole project and write it off as a bomb.

So, we went to work to analyze all the data. Incredibly the duplication company made a simple mistake. They only put the 800#’s up for 15 seconds in the call to action in a half hour infomercial. So, the phone number was only on the screen for 45 seconds in an entire half hour show! We corrected the problem, retested the show and the project ultimately went on to generate over $30 million dollars in sales!

With the right guidance, it can be much clearer what can and needs to be done. Remember this is like running a marathon, so plan on taking your project the distance.

#1 It’s all Mine, Mine, Mine!

Mistake: Not bringing in the right partners when it makes sense.

100% of nothing is nothing. Now this is not a requirement, but it’s not a bad idea to find the right infomercial marketing partner. Unless you are a seasoned direct marketer with long standing retail relationships it may be in your interest to explore the idea of letting a successful direct response marketing company develop, manage, and run your marketing. They take the risk and you get the upside.

Plus, it’s a great indicator about your product’s potential when companies are willing to put up the capital and test the campaign. If they just want to be paid upfront you must decide how much confidence they have in your product’s success in the long run.

- Top Reasons Infomercials Fail, From A Leader Who Has Done $1.5 Billion In Sales, by Brian Rashid, May 22, 2017.

2. Chuck Schumer was on Maddow last night and, in discussing Trump’s attempt to immediately politicize that attack in New York City, Schumer said, “We have norms in this country. We have laws, but we have norms that we have obeyed for two centuries. He’s [Trump] breaking them. And whether they can be repaired again is a very good question”. Schumer left unsaid that the Republican party is equally complicit in breaking those norms, from Merrick Garland to the refusal to confront Trump when he shatters yet another guardrail of democracy.

Yesterday, Trump appointed Jerome Powell to be the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve. This was yet again another break recent precedent, maybe not earth-shattering but a break nonetheless. Every Fed Chair since the Second World War has been re-nominated for a second term as Presidents of both parties tried to ensure at least some Fed independence and minimize politicizing the office. Not so Donald Trump. Powell is largely expected to continue the policies of Janet Yellen although no one really knows what his response will be if there is another economic downturn. But the fact that Trump chose to replace Yellen with someone who is expected largely to follow the same policies only highlights the fact that Trump is once again trying to eliminate any vestige of Obama. In addition, he is replacing a woman with a man who is, in purely academic terms, far less qualified. In essence, Trump has politicized the job without necessarily making any significant change in direction.

Also yesterday and again today, Trump attacked the Department of Justice, urging them to investigate Hillary Clinton. Said Trump, “But you know the saddest thing is that because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I’m not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I’m very frustrated by it…I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department. Why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with the dossier, and the kind of money?” Over the course of last night and today, Trump has tweeted, “Donna Brazile just stated the DNC RIGGED the system to illegally steal the Primary from Bernie Sanders. Bought and paid for by Crooked H….This is real collusion and dishonesty. Major violation of Campaign Finance Laws and Money Laundering — where is our Justice Department?”; “The @TuckerCarlson opening statement about our once cherished and great FBI was so sad to watch. James Comey’s leadership was a disaster!”; And “Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems..”.

As David Frum notes, “President Trump is changing us. Had any predecessor said the things about FBI Trump said this AM, the country would have been convulsed.” The idea that the President is threatening the FBI and the DOJ in an attempt to get them to investigate a political opponent over incidents where there is absolutely no evidence of any crime, much less wrongdoing, ought to shock us all. Part of the impeachment indictment against Nixon was for just such comments. Where are the calls in the House and Senate to hold hearings on Trump’s interference, to somehow call him to account? All we hear is crickets as Republicans in Congress just shrug and try to somehow give enormous tax cuts to their billionaire bankrollers.

- Trump Continues To Break Norms; We Will Never Get Them Back, DailyKOs.com, November 4, 2017.

3. Stormy Daniels is seeking to make President Trump answer questions under oath. The adult film star claims she had a one-time sexual encounter with him in 2006 and was paid to keep quiet about it. In a motion filed Wednesday morning, her attorney Michael Avenatti asked a federal judge for permission to depose the president and his private attorney Michael Cohen for a period “of no greater than two hours” about a non-disclosure agreement she signed just 11 days before the 2016 election. The aim of the deposition is to determine if the president had a role in the $130,000 payment from Cohen to Daniels.

Avenatti told “CBS This Morning” Wednesday that the motion relies on U.S. Supreme Court precedent. “It is well founded, it was well thought out, it’s incredibly documented,” he said. “It’s well supported by the law and we’re confident in the motion.”

Avenatti said he’s confident that once they “get to the bottom of this” they will prove that America has been told “a bucket of lies.”

“We want to know the truth about what the president knew, when he knew it and what he did about it as it relates to this agreement. We’re gonna test the veracity or the truthfulness of Mr. Cohen’s, his attorney’s, statements,” he said.

The court papers reference the case of Bill Clinton v Paula Jones, which went to the Supreme Court. In that case, the majority concluded that the “Constitution does not offer a sitting President significant protections from potentially distracting civil litigation.”

“The Supreme Court already decided that a sitting president can be deposed in connection with a civil matter and if that was the law then, it certainly is the law now, it hasn’t been overturned,” he said.

The motion also references a meeting on March 21 between lawyers on both sides of the case, during which Avenatti says Mr. Trump’s lawyer was unable to answer whether Mr. Trump was a party to the agreement.

“We raised this motion with the other side and I think one of the things that was significant during that meeting was we asked Mr. Harder, Mr. Trump’s attorney, whether Mr. Trump was a party to this agreement and we heard crickets. They don’t know. He said they don’t know yet whether Mr. Trump was a party to this agreement. How do you not know whether you’re a party to an agreement unless you’re just trying to make it up as you go along,” he said.

- Stormy Daniels lawyer says motion to depose Trump “well supported” by law, CBSNews.com, March 28, 2018.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


解读符文 Reading the runes?


小圈子 Their in-group?


Go a long way?


Have each other's backs?


Out on the town?


In and of itself?

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