Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Warning! Use of this product will lead to embarrassment!

On occasion I genuinely wonder if companies bother to preview their ads before they go live. Case in point: this Hallmark ad, which makes a much better case for not buying the advertised product than for buying it.

Given the way most intra-office romances are treated by co-workers, maybe it wasn't the smartest idea to give your boyfriend a singing card that's so loud it can apparently be heard by everyone in the office. (Was it hooked up to the public address system?) But the real brilliance of the ad comes from its concluding ten seconds, which suggest that anyone giving or receiving this card in a public place is going to be humiliated because it's so cripplingly lame. I certainly can't disagree with this, but it's an interesting marketing strategy, to say the least. Can you imagine other companies adopting this format?

[It is a swelteringly hot day. A man stumbles through a heat haze towards a Coke machine. Fumbling in his pocket, he pulls out some change, deposits it into the machine and presses the button. A bottle of Coke falls into the slot. The man reaches down and retrieves it. The Coke bottle is dripping with bits of ice, glistening in the sun. It looks chilled and refreshing. The man opens the bottle, takes a long sip, and lets out a satisfied "Ahhhh!" Then:]

Boy riding past on bike: LOSER!!!!

[The man looks at the Coke bottle and hangs his head. Coming up on the screen is the superimposed text, "Coca-Cola: Refreshment for Losers."]

Seems pretty farfetched, right? Yet that's exactly what's happening here: Hallmark is using its precious 30 seconds of ad space to embarrass the handful of people lame enough to enjoy its product unironically. I guess it doesn't matter since the type of people depicted in the ad don't exist in real life - is there really anyone under the age of 70 who finds greeting cards anything other than perfunctory?

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