Sunday, March 30, 2008

Shock and Vomit

What audience, exactly, is targeting with their latest spot?

Wife: And I didn't have to resort to Plan B.

We are only at 10 seconds (1/3 of the way through the spot), and you are already done telling me anything about your product. Not one more second of this commercial is useful to consumers or relevant to marketing

Salesman: Oh, what's Plan B?

Wife: In order to get you to agree to my terms quickly, I was going to have you eat these brownies which I mixed with horse laxative.

Um, what? Weren't we just talking about comparing car prices? Then I see skeevy looking food and hear the word "laxative" preceded by the word "horse." First of all, why did they go to extreme gross-out measures with a cheap laxative joke? Secondly, why does it have to be horse laxative? Regular human laxative wouldn't do the trick?

Let me just point something out: How old is this couple? They look to be around mid to late 30's, possibly early 40's. That's about the target age range for, I'd guess. Now, remind me, who laughs at jokes about laxatives? Oh yeah, not 40 year-olds. I bet this commercial went over great with the pre-Driver's license audience.

Husband: (stomach grumbles, brownie crumbs reveal themselves on chin) Excuse me.

Sweet! Bonus diarrhea jokes! Thank you to the Farrelly brothers for writing this ad.

Wife: My husband kinda has a sweet tooth.

The comedic double whammy! Not only did you dump horse laxative in there, but you let your husband eat it! Woohoo! This is the payoff line to which all future payoff lines will be compared..... if it were funny at all.

If you just took the first 10 seconds of this commercial, here's what you'd have: A straightforward selling message of the benefits of without the stomach-churning shit jokes and lowest-common-denominator humor. But you would also have a boring ad. I guess the question for companies that can't come up with a good, original commercial is: Is it better to possibly bore your customers, or to make them want to throw up? Unfortunately, seems to know where they want to go.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Viagra for Your Beard

So you want to add some computer animation into your ad. Don't blame you -- it's the "in" thing to do. What you might want to avoid? Creepy, Lidsville-esque, CGIed hair that's trying to sell pre-shave lotion:

(Sorry for the poor quality, but I guess Lectric Shave commercials aren't popular enough for people to digitally record them onto their computers. Go figure.)

Announcer: Wake up your whiskers, with Lectric Shave!

Why do the whiskers have little faces on them that match the head they grow on? Does this seem crazy? What guy thinks of his beard like this? "Dude, maybe they're like tiny versions of me growing all over my face. And they get a little sleepy in the morning, so I have to wake them up!"

Whiskers: Lectric Shave!

Who doesn't enjoy seeing flaccid whiskers perk up at the sight of some pre-shave "lotion."

Announcer: Stands up whiskers for an up to 52% closer shave.

Okay, this is actually good. Thank you for putting a claim in this otherwise insane, dizzying commercial.

Decapitated whisker: Man, that was close.

I just don't know that they really thought this one through. This whisker seems awfully excited for someone who's floating into a pale blue chasm of death. He's just been sliced by an enormous spinning blade, and, with his last words, he utters a goofy pun. Just... odd.

Announcer: Blade Close... Lectric Smooth.

By the way, Williams, thank you for inventing the word "lectric." Humanity is indebted to you.

Lectric Shave, along with its sister shave-product, Aqua Velva, is about the most old man-ish, most fuddy duddy product you could market. So you're not helping yourself by spending money creating weird, nonsensical animation and hiring chubby male models who were brought to the present by a time machine sent from the '70's. Just show us your product, make your claims, and spare us the nightmares we're going to have where our beards become little people and start begging us to slice off their heads.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

American Go To Your Room And Think About What You've Done-ing.

Like most of the commenters on YouTube, I "get" everything in this commercial except the girl stepping in the cake. She looks at least 5 to 7 years old, which is surely old enough to know a) what a cake is and b) that it's to be shared with all of the guests. Also, everyone is applauding. One woman looks shocked, but she must have known that something was up when the kid climbed her way up onto the table. What this has to do with "American Living," I have no idea. At the very least, I hope it's the little girl's birthday and that she's ruining her own cake.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The skeeve that goes... crunch

When did Chester Cheetah turn into a creepy, weird asshole? Oh, about ten seconds after Goodby, Silverstein and Partners decided to "re-invent" him?

You know, that woman could probably have raised her objection in a slightly nicer way. But this... what is this? "Inside the mind of every Cheetos eater is a strangely old, dickish cartoon cheetah just waiting to be turned loose." Hell yeah! Makes me hungry. That woman is going to know it was you, by the way, lady. Hope you're prepared for the fallout from that little move.

The Orange Underground? Yeah, nothing's more subversive than eating a snack food that's mass-produced by a giant corporation. And, I guess, tossing it into the laundry of people who have slightly obnoxious, but seemingly not all that unfair criticisms for the Cheetos consumer. You're like the fucking French Resistance over there, guys.

I just don't think I want my spokescharacter to be this creepy. I mean, I don't write ads for a living - I just make fun of them as a hobby - so maybe I'm crazy. But come on. In voice and hair pattern, Chester Cheetah is apparently suddenly about 70 years old. Maybe in the first ad he disappears because he had to make his seventeenth trip to the bathroom that day.

Is this an appealing character? I feel like the "aging" of Chester is intended to aim the product at adults, but that seems like a losing battle. If you like Cheetos, you're going to eat them. If you've never had Cheetos, and you're older than your early 20s, what's motivating you to try them? I doubt it's the skeevy CGI cheetah giving the stewardess a backrub. Remember when Cookie Crisp tried marketing itself to adults? It worked about as well as I expect this to. I mean, what's the movement here, the "us" you'd be joining? The movement of adults who eat Cheetos? In "secret," by which I mean they use Cheetos to do vaguely inappropriate things that mark them as the obvious culprits?

You know what? Scratch the "vaguely."

"Fuck people with different behavioral patterns than yours! Eat Cheetos!"

Three ads, three unpleasant uses for a wholly benign snack food, and an off-putting, badly-animated cheetah with AARP membership who ties them all together. Brilliant. I can only hope that in the future, the revolution of orange-fingered douchebags will not, in fact, be televised.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Enough with the candy sex

Why does this keep happening?

At least this isn't people having sex with candy. But just like those repugnant Dairy Queen ads from a while back, it goes out of its way to imply that the product you'll be consuming was the result of filthy, filthy sex between two other food products. It'd be one thing to see a chocolate bunny nuzzling a jar of peanut butter fondly - but no, we just haaaad to work "Let's Get It On" in there, didn't we, Reese's? Was grossing out viewers really worth what you had to pay for that song?

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Art of Predictable Headlines

Warning: I'm about to get a little pedantic here. The reason? This Sargento cheese ad, which commits so many advertising sins that it's a veritable compendium of lessons on how not to write an ad:

Let's just go down the list of the features of this magazine ad:
- Lazy headline that was cool back in 1981? Check.
- Image and signature of woefully unattractive owner? Check.
- Excruciating paragraph of boilerplate food copy? Check.
- Shots of, presumably, entire line of products? Check.
- Online call-out? Check.
- Overall busy layout? Check.
- Retarded slogan? Oh, God, check.

How, exactly, did this ad come to be? Were the Sargento people just thinking, "Nice ad. We like the three different backgrounds all frankensteined together like that. Wait, let's add the picture of the owner. Wait! And make sure the fake-looking grapes make it back in. And, wait!! How will they know it's hand-crafted? Let's add in a huge, scripted 'handcrafted' in the middle of that landscape. Perfect."

What part of this ad does Sargento think makes me want to buy cheese? No single component of this ad is that unforgivable, but the fact that it's effectively 8 different print ads compiled into one overall piece of excrement makes the whole far, far more painful than the sum of its parts.

The headline in particular, "Experience the Art of Cheese" is pathetic. "The Art of blank" is one of the most obvious and overplayed creative devices in all of advertising. Copywriters everywhere simply need to retire this line for the next hundred years.

And then there's the slogan --

Persnickety People. Exceptional Cheese.

Okay, I get the feeling that it was Lou Gentine, second generation owner of Sargento Cheese, who dreamed this baby up. Or at least I hope it was him, and not someone who gets paid to write. The first definition of "Persnickety" is, "overparticular; fussy," and the second definition is, "snobbish or having the aloof attitude of a snob." Awesome. It might as well just be:

Snobby Dicks. Exceptional... Who the Fuck Cares.

It really doesn't matter what you say after you use the word "persnickety" in a 21st century ad -- you've already convinced me I don't want your product.

If anyone else hates this ad, I encourage you to write to Sargento. The one catch is that you'll have to spell out their obnoxious address: 1 Persnickety Pl, Plymouth, WI. I'm not even kidding about that. They took that slogan and just ran with it, didn't they? I guess Sargento just loves overdoing things, whether it's packing every last bit of selling copy into an ad until it looks like a third grader's random magazine collage, or actually naming a street "Persnickety." I sure hope that cheese really is exceptional, for their sake.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Can we please stop doing this?

Please, Milky Way. I'm begging you.

Just to annoy everyone, here's the full text of that awful little poem:

"This is no impulse
My yearning for your comfort began hours ago
But for the cashier's sake, let's be coy
Let's pretend like this was all spontaneous
'Oh, pleasure to meet you, caramel'"


This is the second of these ads I'm aware of - i.e., ads where Sally Kellerman is apparently twenty seconds from cramming a Milky Way into her vagina - and it's also the second one to refer to Milky Ways as "comfort." Buy a fucking thesaurus. Then hit yourselves over the head with it and forget you ever thought it was a good idea to make a series of commercials comparing your candy product to a lover. It's horrifying.

Alternately, maybe every food product should try this.

You do a body good
If you were a person, I bet you'd do my body good
I mean that in a sexual way
Like we'd have really hot sex
I think I'm going to stick my dick into the carton right now

No, I'm going to stick with "horrifying."