“Big Mistake” | Funny TV Campaign for Channel 4 St. Louis (1985)

St. Louis media history rediscovered! Here are KMOX-TV Channel 4’s “Big Mistake” commercials from 1985, alerting viewers to an error in TV Guide magazine. Writer/director: Paul Fey. Guy on camera: me!

Yes, that’s me, Walt Jaschek, at a studio in KMOX-TV (St. Louis,) performing on-camera in 1985. I recently found these spots on 3/4″ tape, transferred them to digital, and asked Paul to remind us why this campaign existed and how it came to be. Here’s what he said!


The VP Parade was an extremely important local programming event for Channel 4… not only for the major revenue that would be generated from a local program, but because it also indirectly served as powerful cross-promotion for its news team, who would be heavily visible while covering the event.

A “Big Mistake” occurred when TV Guide did not correctly include the listing for the VP Parade coverage, and instead left the normal weekly listing for Family Feud. Without a crucial TV Guide listing (which was actually a big deal in those days), Channel 4 had missed a major opportunity for exposure, and all felt lost. The magazine was already in print. There was no way to get the incorrect listing changed by the time it was discovered, only a few days before the event.

Out of sheer frustration and in order to amuse himself (this was NOT an assignment), Paul Fey wrote the campaign later that night after the irretrievable “Big Mistake” was discovered. He pitched it to General Manager Allan Cohen the next day. Allan loved it, and Paul enlisted friend Walt Jaschek as the on-camera talent.

The Creative Services team launched into action. shooting it, produced it, and putting it on the air within about 24 hours. The three spots ran heavily over a total of 3-4 days leading up to the day of the actual event.

Even without the correct TV Guide listing, Channel 4 handily won the time slot anyway.

Afterward, Allan said this: “You guys somehow always manage to find a way to turn chicken shit into chicken salad. This time, you turned chicken shit into Chicken Cordon Bleu.”



What are we doing now? Paul runs World Wide Wadio in Hollywood, California.,

Walt runs a YouTube channel and the entertainment empire, Copywriters In Love.

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My Letter in TV Guide, May 9-15, 1987

NO TALKING AT THE PICTURES!

Yeah, okay, I’ll buy James Morrow’s premise that people should watch TV “noisily and together,” [The Best Way to Watch TV? Noisily and Together,” April 11]. But there’s a dangerous side effect to such behavior: the compulsion to converse loudly in movie theatres. We at HUSH (Help Us Silence Half-wits) submit that the social dynamic of the living room is too often transferred to the cinema, where boorish cretins babble with no regard for those around them. Sure, discourse should be nurtured at home. But so should manners.

Walter S. Jaschek
St. Louis

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Walt Jaschek writes about stuff that matters. To him.