Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe to wake up in the morning

If you'd asked me, a few weeks ago, if I thought there was any way Burger King could have made their King mascot creepier, I would have told you, "Absolutely no chance whatsoever." You have to admit, the King was already probably the creepiest corporate mascot in television history, so improving upon that would be difficult. But, by God, Burger King took up that challenge, and damned if they didn't succeed with flying colors.

Holy shit. Are you serious? I appreciate that the commercial's protagonist - I use that word as loosely as it can possibly be used - seems to be as weirded out by the King-Bot as I'm sure everyone watching is, but I don't even get the concept behind this, really. What exactly makes cramming a bunch of breakfasty crap into a single wrap so "futuristic"? It seems more like a throwback to the Great Depression. "We can only afford six strips of bacon a month, so we've got to make them last. Let's toss one into this egg-and-potato thing I've got going, and it'll seem like way more food!" Also, smoky cheese sauce for breakfast? I think I'm going to be ill.

Then there's the fact that the King-Bot apparently doubles as some kind of marital aid for Ms. Purple-Hair. Would you want to drink coffee that magically appeared with a point of his finger, armed with that piece of information?

Monday, April 28, 2008

How about we just annoy the hell out of everybody?

Predictable stereotypes... Insipid music... Ham-fisted acting... Poor computer animation. All things we look for in today's TV commercials here at The Ad Wizards. But is there a company out there, you ask, with the vision and the fortitude to combine all of these qualities and distill them into one 30-second uber-commercial? Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you: Dr Pepper...

Setting: A colorless college lecture hall.

OMG, school=teh gay. How BORING is class, right?! You nailed it, Dr Pepper! School is beyond dull. I can't believe no one's ever capitalized on this sentiment before.

Professor: Today we'll explore multiple personalities.

Prepare yourselves for a pretense so flimsy and delicate, Dr Pepper had to buy out Flavor Flav to make it work.

(a dude pops open can of Dr Pepper) (can comes alive through shitty CGI and begins to sing) Yeeeeaaa boi! You know I'm flava-flava-licious, explore my flavor before you miss it!

I like how the stoner character's head perks up from a sleeping state when the can starts singing. Didn't class just start? Oh right, I forgot it was school -- it's just that boring without Dr Pepper.

If the commercial ended here, with this embarrassing bit of corporate rap laid down by an animated pop can, it would be bad enough. But, no, they had to delve deeper into this "multiple personality" concept...

(can now starts singing about flavors in cheesy Mexican-style pop music) (then can sings in a toned-down metal band style about flavors) (the Professor dances) (a nerdy girl gives the can a devil horn sign)

Please stop. Please, please stop, Dr Pepper. Don't ever record music for your commercials again. It's soooooo bad. It's soooooooooooooo bad. And it's definitely not "so bad it's good" -- it's just flat out, unmitigated, no-holds-barred, lay-it-all-on-the-line donkey ass.

And is there a hackier scene in the history of cinema than "the curmudgeony old guy dances to loud music" or "the nerdy girl secretly shows her wild side"? It's not that I demand originality in each and every ad, it's just -- if you're going to use old material, can you at least execute it well?

23 Flavors, more to explore

Here's where they bring it all together. These "multiple personalities" (sorry for the fancy terminology, I hope I didn't put any Psychology 101 students to sleep right there!) are, in fact, the different flavors of Dr Pepper. Take one sip, and it tastes like Flavor Flav's rap music (whatever that would taste like)! Take another, and it's like having a mariachi band in your mouth! Take another -- hey, it's Fred Durst -- mmmmm... tangy!

Who experiences Dr Pepper like this, with this odd form of synesthesia? I'll acknowledge that it's definitely a unique flavor, and difficult to describe. But every sip tastes about the same to me, as long as I'm not on PCP at the time or something. So they claim to have "23 Flavors" -- problem is, no one knows what the hell those 23 flavors are. Wouldn't those flavors combine to form a relatively stable overall taste throughout the Dr Pepper drinking process?

This commercial is just an insane mash-up of little annoyances. Bad music, bad acting, bad concept, bad everything. But I am left wondering what, exactly, would Flavor Flav's music taste like? Maybe a little cherry mixed with some clove, a hint of dandelion, and an over-sized clock necklace aftertaste.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Say, that's original!

All right, Wieden + Kennedy. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: create a commercial for Heineken Premium Light beer. And do it without ripping off about fifteen other commercials.

No, without ripping off fifteen other commercials! Without!

First of all, there is no excuse for this ad to be a minute long. It's the same goddamn thing over and over again, for sixty seconds. What a waste.

Second of all, does the structure of this commercial seem, oh, I don't know, slightly familiar?

Well, well. It's not just the "circle of giving," either, it's the particular gambit of having the ad start and end in the same place - which is to say, paradoxically. That's a pretty specific choice you have to make - or, in this case, steal.

The idea of "passing the love" is also "borrowed" from about seven quintillion Coke ads. Like this one. Or this one. Or, basically, every single ad in the Coke oeuvre ever. And as ridiculous as that concept is when applied to caffeinated soda, seeing it used for an alcoholic beverage just makes me wince. I'm glad that cigarettes aren't allowed to advertise on TV anymore, but sometimes you have to wonder at the justification for letting beer companies pitch their product in all kinds of life-bettering ways when other harmful consumer products have been banned from the airwaves.

At any rate, I think Wieden + Kennedy can do better than this. Here are some suggestions I have in keeping with their general theme:

* A friendly, beer-drinking clown helps stop the Heinekenburglar from stealing all the beer in GreenBottleLand.

* Two actors portraying Heineken Light and a domestic light beer stand in front of a white background and discuss their differences.

* Lipizzaner stallions tote a Heineken wagon through a snowy landscape.

* A woman runs into a room full of drones watching a dystopian Bud Light ad and throws a Heineken bottle through the screen.

Any one of those should work pretty well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Food sex! Food sex! Food sex, everybody!

Hey fellas! Ever smell bacon and instantly get an erection? No? Surely you must be mistaken, because Taco Bell says that's what our natural, bodily response should be:

Girl 1: This place is great.
Girl 2: So many cute guys here.
Girl 1: Mmhmm. Do you smell.... bacon?
Girl 2: Oh, yeah, it's a Bacon Club Chalupa (reveals one hidden in her handbag). Guys love bacon.

What are the odds that her purse wouldn't be just smothered in Chalupa residue? And for the Chalupa, is that really an appetizing presentation of food -- crammed in a small, shiny purse?

Girl 1: Like that's really gonna work, come on.

Guys will absolutely be approaching you in the bar tonight, ladies. Not because of the bacon on that Chalupa you squeezed into your purse but, rather, because you're totally hot. You do not need bacon to attract men. A fried taco in your purse could only hurt your chances of landing a random dude.

Guys: Hi... Hey... How's it goin'? What is that you're wearing it's.... it's intoxicating.

"Oh, it's not actually something I'm wearing - it's this greasy fast food taco that I keep in my handbag to get men to talk to me!"

I guess her strategy worked all along! Just think of how little ass they'd be getting if they didn't have that trusty bacon aroma. They'd just be two modelesque, single girls sitting at a bar all dolled up waiting for sex -- what guy is interested in that, am I right?

Voiceover: Taco Bell's Bacon Club Chalupa is back. Bacon lovers rejoice! (tiny bacon crumbles drop onto top of loaded Chalupa)

Wow! Look at all that bacon! That looks like at least 10 or 15 tiny orts of bacon I'll be getting on my Chalupa. Oh, no, don't worry, that's plenty of bacon. I'm sure I'll be able to taste it through the chicken, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sauce and fried Gordita shell. Bacon lovers truly should rejoice!

I think the bottom line here is: if you want to use sex appeal to sell food, don't incorporate the food into any kind of sexual activity. They're really two separate urges, food and sex, so just show a hot girl eating a taco and be done with it. It's an old joke, anyway, the notion of a "bacon perfume," and it just doesn't work to sell me on Mexican fast food.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Beer heaven can wait

Unless you're a rowdy drunk in the bleachers at a baseball game, is anyone's idea of heaven a place where the only beer is Miller Lite?

First off, a couple things about the bar itself. I think that having a basketball game playing under your air hockey game would be really distracting. Already this is not seeming very heavenly. Also, the weird reclining chair right at the bar? Beer Heaven needs to hire some better designers.

Announcer: "Only one beer is good enough for Beer Heaven."

"Only one beer - ours, of course - is good enough for a place that only exists inside of an ad that we created to promote that very same beer." This reminds me of those DiSaronno ads where people are inexplicably frequenting bars that stock nothing but amaretto; if you like beer enough that being in "Beer Heaven" is something that might appeal to you, I'm guessing you probably don't like Miller Lite enough for it to be your beer of choice in this eternal bliss. But hey, anything's possible when you make stuff up. Like how Dr. Pepper is the only soft drink served in the legendary city of El Dorado, or how the Purple Grawnaks, an alien race that inhabits a planet in orbit around Betelguese, are suckers for the tangy zip of Miracle Whip.

Announcer: "Miller Lite - the ultimate light beer."

This may be true, but is it really something worth bragging about? It's kind of like a bag of wet coffee grounds promoting itself as "the ultimate garbage."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Vaguely healthy fast food alternatives? Surely you jest!

As you may have noticed, Burger King has really been getting on my nerves in the months I've been doing this blog. It took this next ad a while to show up online in a format even remotely suitable for viewing, but here it is. "Enjoy."

I'm on the record as supporting ad wars when they're done right, but this is just stupid. It's confusing, for one thing; doesn't Burger King lead Wendy's in sales? This is like Pepsi doing an ad that makes fun of RC Cola while giving Coke a free pass. It's not that ads where #2 takes on #1 seem to work very well, but why even go the other direction? And why does Burger King insist on representing one of its menu items as an obnoxious teenager in a hamburger costume?

Whopper Jr.: "Let's go take 'em out, yeah?"
Chicken Crisp: "Yeah."
Whopper Jr.: "We've got business to handle!"

Take 'em out? For serious? And what's with this now-hackneyed "documentary" style? I must have missed the memo where Burger King is now exclusively targeting 16-year-old white suburban kids who find Borat to be the height of comedy.

Whopper Jr.: "Hey, can I - can I get a Whopper Jr., please?"
Wendy's Speaker: "This is - this is not Burger King. That's at Burger King. Sorry."

Oh. Man. Motherfucking owned, Wendy's! PWN3D, even! I can't believe you don't have Burger King products on your menu! Up is down, black is white... what is happening???

This tactic of making fun of other restaurants for not selling their products - which would probably get them sued anyway - is an interesting one on Burger King's part. I would suggest that they didn't go nearly far enough with it, though. Why not have Whopper Jr. go into a pet shop and ask for a Whopper, only to be told that all they sell there are adorable puppies? In your fucking face, pet shop! And imagine the pwnage that will ensue when Chicken Crisp discovers that the local hardware store will sell him nails and screwdrivers, but nothing even resembling the Enormous Omelet Sandwich!

Whopper Jr.: "Can I get some flame-broiled beef, please? Got any of that?"
Wendy's Speaker: "Uh, we don't do that here."

I suppose this is intended as a counterargument to Wendy's "fresh, never frozen" pitch. The question thus becomes - is frozen and flame-broiled beef better-tasting than fresh but grilled beef? I really have no idea, but I will say that I've eaten one Burger King burger in my life and I wouldn't exactly call the flame-broiling noticeable.

Wendy's Speaker: "Do you want a sour cream and chive potato?"
Whopper Jr.: "A baked potat- a baked pota- are we in Russia?"

That joke was much funnier the first time, when I heard it in Caddyshack. Also, that was 1980 and Russia was still a Communist state, so it kind of made sense then. I suppose Russians probably eat a lot of potatoes. The potato is a pretty major vegetable on the world scale, so a lot of people eat potatoes. What's more, a baked potato is a relatively healthy option on a fast-food level; Wendy's sour cream and chive potato has 320 calories and four grams of fat, as well as being fairly rich in vitamin C and potassium. A Whopper Jr. has 370 calories and 21 grams of fat, and that's with no cheese. The Whopper Jr. also weighs a full 150 grams less than a sour cream and chive potato from Wendy's, giving it a fat weight percentage of 14%. The potato? 1.3%. But I guess you're right - this being America, the idea of an even remotely healthy option on a fast food menu is kind of anathema, especially to the type of person who would find this ad funny in the first place.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Can't make your mortgage payments? Try a double cheeseburger!

You may be familiar with the phrase "laugh to keep from crying," but this McDonald's ad seems curiously blasé about the national economic crisis, don't you think?

"The economy is in freefall! It's two dollars to every euro, the housing market is a wreck, we're headed for a recession... say, is that a one-dollar cheeseburger? Never mind!"

Obviously no one wants to be reminded by some random McDonald's ad of the sinking position of America in the world economy, but I don't know how smart the "Just kidding, everything's fine!" play is, even as a joke. The characters in this ad represent one of the key problems with American economics - the inability of people to see more than a few feet in front of them. "Well, if I can still get a cheeseburger for a dollar, things must not be that bad!" Or maybe McDonald's had costs of less than a dollar per cheeseburger to begin with (I certainly wouldn't be surprised), or maybe it's because they're a multinational corporation that makes billions of dollars a year. I'm not Alan Greenspan or anything, but I do know that I hate this commercial.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Man, that's some good carpet

Anyone who has lived in the Chicagoland area is familiar with the advertising phenomenon that is Luna Flooring. Their phone number, along with fellow Chicago carpet maker Empire Today's, is forever embedded in everyone's brain, "7-7-3, 2-Oh-2.... (beep beep beep beep) LUNA!" They also make bad, bad, low-budget commercials. Their latest offering, however, might be their most inexplicably imbecile yet. Observe:

Wife: I love you. You're so gorgeous and warm.

Hmm, who is she talking to? A baby maybe. Or a pet perhaps? Or maybe she's cheating on her husband, and she just got caught! Or maybe....

Wife: I feel so comfortable around you. (sees husband) Oh, hi sweetie!

..... Oh. She was talking to the carpet. Because this is something people do, apparently. Also, she should be far more embarrassed to have someone walk in on her while she's having a conversation with carpeting.

Not that anyone who's not employed by a carpet manufacturer would know, but the use of both "comfortable" and "warm" in this commercial are puns -- carpet being more "comfortable" and "warm underfoot" than, say, hardwood flooring. The lesson is: goofy industry jokes don't really work in 30 second spots.

Husband: Are you talking to our new carpet again?

She's done this before? If this is a regular occurrence around the house, then it's gone beyond "cute, kinda weird behavior" to "all-out insanity." Please consider psychiatric help.

Wife: I'm so glad I chose you. And you were free!

It was only free if it was the "second room," whatever that means. So this part is a little misleading.

Husband: (shakes head in amused disbelief)

I'm telling you, dude, psychiatric help. That's what you need in this situation. It's not just an eccentricity, it's a medical problem.

"Luna Flooring: we lace our carpets with jimson weed and ecstasy so that you'll really love your floors."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Flunkin' Donuts

Here's another sorry attempt at being clever from Dunkin' Donuts (and the ubiquitous and effervescent Rachael Ray):

Visual: Little men approach gigantic, packaged Dunkin' Donuts breakfast menu items clad in welding uniforms. They turn on their torches, the camera pans back to reveal.... it was all going on inside an industrial microwave!

(gasps) (looks around in astonishment) "Who saw that comin'!?" (faints) (in dream, recalls Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness") (regains consciousness) My God! (sits down to come to terms with what was just seen)

Rachael Ray: That is not how they toast these.

Some Woman: Well, something amazing is going on in that oven.

Oh, you mean toasting? You mean the act of heated coils raising the temperature of food items inside an oven? Yeah, that is amazing... I guess. It's amazing if you find the incredibly mundane to be "amazing."

Rachael Ray (extra-raspily): Well, you got that right.

And we bring the absurdity on home with some folksy Rachael Ray charm. I guess I expected more from the ending of this commercial than just some throw-away cliché. You go from miniature dudes heating up food inside an oven to a conversation between Rachael Ray and a random person, and then there's basically no ending. No payoff, no unique tagline -- nothing.

Basically what Dunkin' Donuts wants us, the consumers, to think about their breakfast is: they use ovens to heat up their food. Mm. They don't want us to know what new items they're offering, how early they open, how tasty their food is, or how affordable their products are. They just want us to think "Food Hot, Rachael Ray Cute. Me Go Now To Dunkin' Donuts."


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Burger King hits a home run!

You guys, I loved this ad. I loved it so much I just had to post about it.

Is that not about the funniest thing you've ever seen? Oh my God. It's so sneaky. Like, they're pretending it's just about his tongue, but it's totally referencing morning wood! Ha ha ha! That is so awesome! So awesome that I'm going to ignore how disgusting "Cheesy Tots" sound, or how that really doesn't strike me as a breakfast food, or how utterly fucking terrible this ad is aaaaah I couldn't go through with it.

Well, happy April Fool's Day, anyway.