Back in 1973, Master Lock ran one of the most effective Super Bowl ads of all time. If you haven’t seen it before, here it is:

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Now, I’m not sure how many criminals would shoot a lock — seems to me they’d be more likely to just use a pair of bolt cutters — but that doesn’t matter, because watching a lock literally take a bullet and still continue to do its job impresses us at a fundamental, symbolic, and subconscious level.

And it’s this subconscious, largely symbolic level where real buying decisions are made, which is one reason why Master Lock, bolstered by the success of this ad, went on to dominate the industry in 70s and continues to be dominant today.

In fact, people still talk about this “tough under fire” demonstration to this day. Heck it featured in an episode of MythBusters.

Of course, the difference between today and the 70’s is that now customers expect to be able to find more information on the internet. So if Master Lock were to run an ad like that today, we’d expect to go to the website, see the ad, and then get more information, presumably including an added demonstration of how the haft of the lock is hardened against regular bolt cutters and such.

In other words, the Web is where we expect businesses to add more info, close more loopholes, and really convince us — all after they’ve impressed us with their mass media ads.

And that brings me to the ad Master Lock really should have aired last Sunday. Because you don’t know it, but the front door lock on your house is ridiculously, stupidly easy to overcome. It doesn’t even require regular lock-picking skills or really anything close to what one might call special tools or skills.

Nope. Picking the lock on your house simply requires a bumpkey and a few minute demo on how to use it. See for yourself within the first 90 seconds of this news special:

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Think you could make a pretty dramatic ad out of that bit of info?

Yeah. Me too.

Now, here’s the thing — Master Lock has come up with a lock cylinder that’s pretty much bump-proof. Unfortunately their promotional video for the technology is slow, boring, and long. It is, however, convincing:

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So why not have a super dramatic, riveting Super Bowl ad that demonstrates lock bumping and how exposed 99% of all homes are to the technique, then showcasing how bump-proof Master Lock’s new lock cylinders are?

If you really want to get serious, throw out a challenge:

  • Viewers pick out a replacement Master Lock for their door and order it along with home installation to be done by a a local Master Lock dealer,
  • All of which is FREE if the installation crew can’t bump lock the front door lock they’ll be replacing on your home.
  • “If we can’t open your door lock as easy as this [image of bump lock opening] your new Master Lock is on us!
  • See complete details at

What do you want to bet that that ad would sell a boat load of new door locks?

And that’s the ad we should have seen this Super Bowl.



  1. Michele Miller Nelson on 02.04.2013

    Excellent advice for any writer.

  2. t. on 02.07.2013

    Busy day and had absolutely no intention of reading this long ass blog or responding but dammit you made it interesting.

    SuperBowl ad idea …

    Find a couple … let them “win” tickets to the Superbowl … then have the LOCK TEAM pop their lock and have a Superbowl party in their home … video it … LIVE … from the couples living room … and have the couple on LIVE cam from their stadium seats seeing people parked in their living room eating Cheetos.

    Yes, that would be a fun ad that would pack a punch … and please dull these blogs up a bit so I can ignore them and get something done.