Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Like Rainn on your wedding day

Rainn Wilson, you're better than this.

This is just one of a series of commercials, each as stupid as the other, assumedly designed to tie in with the Women's World Cup, going on right now. I have several problems with this ad, as you might guess, since that is why we do this site.

For starters, what kind of a joke is "Jim Mike"? The fact that his last name is also a first name has to be a joke of some kind, right? Yet there is nothing at all funny about it. I suppose it could be an oblique reference to the clueless boss character on "The Office," who has two first names in both versions (David Brent in the UK and Michael Scott in the US), and on the American version of which Wilson gained his present fame. But that only makes it a stupid joke with a point.

For that matter, why did this character need a name at all? And why is he the focal point of the commercial, and of all the ads in this series? It's pretty ironic that a series of ads suggesting you pay more attention to the US women's soccer team does nothing so much as draw all your attention away from the US women's soccer team. You know why they're the best team we've never heard of? Because Rainn Wilson just keeps yelling and you don't let them talk. Here's how the pitch meeting probably went:

Exec 1: So, we're thinking Rainn Wilson. You know, Dwight from "The Office."
US Team's Agent: Oh, cool, I love "The Office!" What would he be doing?
Exec 2: He'd be like, running around, being all crazy. And the team would be kind of staring at him, like, "Who's this dork?"
Agent: Okay...
Exec 1: Then, at the end, they'd all be kind of glaring at the camera.
Agent: Would they say anything?
Exec 2: I feel like "talking" would kind of ruin the mystique.
Agent: But this is an ad about how bad it is that no one's heard of the team...
Exec 1: Yeah.
Agent: And the team is just going to be standing around.
Exec 2: If it helps, think of them as the "straight man" - like the Stan Laurel of this ad.
Agent: Is that even remotely accurate?
Exec 2: Well, no.
Exec 1: Okay, six words: "Rainn Wilson in a sports bra."
Agent: Oh wow, is that the time?

The further irony of this commercial is that the US women's soccer team really isn't that invisible, or at least hasn't been in recent memory. The ad even makes indirect reference to Brandi Chastain's infamous shirt removal at the 1999 World Cup, which everyone and their mother has seen by this point and which helped make the women's national team a household name, if only for a few weeks.

I also hate this ad because it uses one of my least favorite devices - the "here's a guy doing something stupid and/or wacky, and it's not really funny, but the joke is that everyone else in the ad thinks it's not funny, too" ploy. It's like a cheap trick to build common ground. "Hey, you thought the guy in a sports bra was stupid, right? Well, so did the US women's soccer team! Look, they kicked a ball at him! Don't you love them now?"

1 comment:

Quivering P. Landmass said...

Wow, not even attempting to introduce the players, the team, the sport or anything. Truly offensive. This goes past just being a bad commercial to being a damaging commercial. And the sad part is, unlike the men's team, the US women are actually really, really good.