My nose was still bleeding from my meteoric ascent up the executive ladder at NBC when my boss, the late TV wunderkind Fred Silverman, told me something I’m reminded of practically every night watching television.

Advertising messages laced with sardonic wit and a splash of humor penetrate deeper and last longer in consumers’ minds then straight recommendations, warnings, or advisories to buy, use or consider trying this and that because it will make you thinner, smarter, healthy or wealthy.  But not too funny, just enough.  And then the perfect punch word or phrase does the trick.

When Fred hired me as vice president and his personal assistant after we both bolted from ABC, I felt like my career was zooming as if I was on a Jeff Bezos’s rocket ship, although back then Bezos hadn’t even invented Amazon and was destined to go way higher than me.   One of the perks for me back in the 80’s was hanging out with fearless Fred after work.  

One night over cocktails at 21 Club, he told me something I never forgot. 

The late great TV programming guru said the most creative minutes on TV were not in the series and specials he created one after another and that I promoted one after another as viewer ratings meant life or death to us. 

“What?”  I responded incredulously to the master TV programmer.

“No sir,” said Fred.  “They were in the commercials,” those precious spots that helped to pay for the programming, not to mention for our cocktails at 21. 

I think about what Fred said every time I see Not Again!–one of my favorite TV commercials for Charles Schwab that always amuses me and stokes my admiration.  Those commercials always hit home the all-important main message that Schwab is a better financial advisor than its competitors represented by Carl, the flabbergasted, ever humiliated character whom Schwab keeps torturously upstaging. 

I’m sure you’ve probably seen the most frustrated investment counselor on the planet, whose clients are forever citing his archrival Schwab as having better, more sensible programs and ideas.

Schwab,” he would burst out angrily as if it were a spot sunburned on his brain that his customers keep slapping–ouch!

It’s not because I have an account there or because Schwab was rated a Top Broker in the 2021 Investor’s Business Daily Best of the Online Brokers Survey. 

Their spots staring that embarrassed financial adviser unceasingly upstaged by his adversary are just priceless spots that hit home a radiant message about why Schwab truly is one of the best. 

Charles Schwab TV Spot, ‘Not Again’

Wherever Carl goes, he can’t seem to avoid being asked questions when it comes to his clients’ money. Whether it be during racquetball time, at the pool or in the sauna, his clients inquire about what he invested their money in and cite Schwab suggesting that you ask questions about how your wealth is being managed.

Then, just when Carl starts celebrating that the Charles Schwab billboard outside his office is being taken down, his coworker Ron points out that a new one is already going up. The banner advertises that Schwab is offering index investing for less than Fidelity and Vanguard, as well as no minimums.

Once again frustrated Carl exclaims the key word in all the spots:


If you want, you can sign up with to track nationally aired TV ad campaigns for Charles Schwab. is the market leader in real-time cross-platform TV ad measurement and attribution. In one report Charles Schwab had 1,264 airings and earned an airing rank of #802 with a spend ranking of #424 as compared to all other advertisers.

Competition for Charles Schwab includes Lear CapitalTD AmeritradeFidelity InvestmentsE*TRADEAcorns and the other brands in the Business & Legal: Investment Services industry.

One day I would like to meet Carl to tell him myself how much Schwab has helped me with my investments as I would love to hear him yell:


Besides an inveterate blogger, Tom Madden is an author of countless published articles and five books, including his latest, WORDSHINE MAN, available in March  on Amazon.   He is the founder and CEO of TransMedia Group, an award-winning public relations firm serving clients worldwide since 1981 and has conducted remarkably successful media campaigns and crisis management for America’s largest companies and organizations.