Monday, June 30, 2008

Now that's a MAN's 40% off sale!

Sometimes I actually read my spam, especially when there are emails advertising big sales. And sometimes I stumble upon a true gem, like this ad from the camping and outdoor gear site

Here we have the featured shot, a couple guys grilling in the spirit of the 4th of July, which corresponds to the sale. Seems to make sense at first blush. But then you realize that these two have apparently lugged a full-size Weber grill to the top of a mountain. And after they fired up the grill and plopped down a couple of bratwurst and some weird-looking white things (chicken?), they reward themselves for all that strenuous labor by lighting us what appears to be marijuana. I guess it could be a cigarette, but then why is that hippie to the left reaching over for it?

"Hey, 4th of July's comin' up. Let's buy some meat, carry the grill up to the top of an arid mountain and smoke some weed. Just like last year."

I dunno, couldn't they have found a photograph that gets the spirit of the company and the sale across a little clearer? Instead of settling on the very first shot that came up on their Google Image search?


Hmm. Big and juicy, like the brats sizzling on that grill. Big and juicy, like the... backpacks you have on sale? Or the.... hitch bike carriers? Hey, what about this sale is big and juicy, exactly?

Also, most people say "4th of July" not "July 4th."

Up to 40% off
Shop Now!

Be like the guys in the picture, everybody! Shop for some sweet camping gear. And then grill out on the mountains while you enjoy some recreational drugs. Nothing says "I'm a hardcore outdoorsman" like juicy brats and pot.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Giving baseball a bad rap

It's a sad, sad day in the world of rap and hip-hop. The selling of the Death Row catalog? Not exactly. More like this:

For those of you who aren't familiar with baseball, the guys in the ad are Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. And for those of you not familiar with rap, they are making complete asses of themselves.

Guillen: "I'm a South Side guy!"
Piniella: "I know, I can tell!"
Guillen: "What's that mean? You can go to [honk]!"

"Lou Piniella don't gotta cuss in his raps to win ballgames. Well, I do. So [honk] him and [honk] you too!"

Piniella: "We play day ball at Addison and Clark!"
Guillen: "At 35th and Shields, we're balling after dark!"
Piniella: "Sparks'll fly from our Cubbie bats!"
Guillen: "You remind me of being sorta fat!"

Wait, what? Is that something one can be "reminded" of? That doesn't make sense. Why are billiard balls being racked up in the background of that shot? And why does Guillen suddenly get personal (aside from the fact that this is in keeping with his normal personality, that of "total asshole")?

EDIT: As noted in the comments, the actual line is apparently "You remind me of Minnesota Fats," which explains the billiard balls (and, of course, makes the line's syntax a lot more reasonable). It also explains why I wasn't able to correctly discern what Guillen was saying there because, holy shit, a Minnesota Fats reference? Even Ozzie Guillen isn't old enough to be dropping that one. Can I fairly assume that the guy who wrote this copy is at least 70?

Piniella: "I'm a North Side guy!"
Guillen: "I know, I can tell!"
Piniella: "At least I ain't trapped in no South Side cell!"

Wakka wakka. The White Sox play at US Cellular Field, often referred to as "The Cell." Also, their fans often end up in jail cells. It's a double entendre!

Guillen: "Black and blue, that's what you're gonna be!"
Piniella: "Oh yeah? It's the crosstown rivalry!"
Guillen: "South Side!"
Piniella: "North Side!"
Both: "You decide!"

I like how they say "you decide" like this is really a choice anyone needs to think about. If you live in Chicago, you either root for the Cubs, or you root for the White Sox, or you don't care about baseball and are waiting for Bears training camp to start.

If an ad like this doesn't prove that middle-aged white guys are the dominant force in advertising, I don't know what does. This is right up there with Rappin' Rodney or that track Ron Jeremy did for absolute ear pain. "Hey, this is what the kids like, right? Rap? Man, this is going to be so cool. See if you can get two older guys to do it. Old guys are usually pretty awesome at rap."

What does this have to do with Chevrolet, anyway? (That's right - did you know this ad was for Chevrolet?) We don't even find out what it's for until 23 seconds in, by which point anyone sane has changed the channel. Is that really effective? Anyone who likes baseball, or rap, or cars, or anything really, should be embarrassed on behalf of everyone involved with this ad.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The great American stereotype

Hey, I've got an idea - how about a new beer ad that uses the oldest joke in history to make a really boring point? That'd be fun, right?

Bartender: "Guys... let's talk commitment."
Group of Men: [horrified stares]

Like, ZOMG, you guys. Men who hate commitment! Did you know that that was a stereotype about men, that they fear commitment in relationships? Breaking some ground here, Budweiser. Next up, let's see them scratch themselves, then weasel out of chores.

Bartender: "Relax... I'm talking about beer."

"Oh thank GOD! Beer! Something we, as men, understand!"

Bartender: "Budweiser has stayed true to the same recipe for over 130 years."

If you're going with something as specific as "130," you might as well just say how many years, don't you think? Also, you'd think after 130 years they could produce something anyone who actually likes beer and isn't just looking to get buzzed at the baseball game would want to drink. No such luck.

Bartender: "Through five generations! They could have cut corners, but they didn't."

One can only imagine what Bud would be like today if corners had been cut. Just a six-pack of Clydesdale urine?

Bartender: "'Cause they won't sacrifice quality, or great taste."

I suppose it's difficult to sacrifice something that was never in there to begin with. Got you, Budweiser! Burned!

Bartender: [with unnecessarily staccato cadence] "A hundred. And thirty. Years."

Heard you the first time. Still don't care.

Bartender: "Now that's commitment."
Guy: "I love commitment."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!! Oh man!!!!! He loves commitment now! Because of that great talk about beer and stuff! He only loves commitment when related to beer. Such a male thing to do.

I suppose Budweiser doesn't need aggressive marketing. But they tried to work in a point about their product, so no passes. It's just so trite and boring. "Hey, did you know men are scared of commitment? But what if it was some sort of beer-related commitment? Oh, that's okay." Fin.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Puns and Ammo (hey, meta-pun!)

What do you get when you mix the hilarity of predictable puns with the glitz of low-budget CGI? You end up with a sparkling gem like this (EDIT: The :60 disappeared, so here's the :30 that's not as egregious, but gives you a taste of how bad this commercial truly was.  Also, I know now that they used an actual bear on a greenscreen, not CGI.  Man, bears are weird looking.):

A grizzly bear walks into a Lowe's

Whoa, is anyone familiar with bear safety? What these folks need to be doing right now is crouching down, avoiding eye contact, and walking away slowly from this enormous wild animal. Grizzlies are the largest land predators on Earth. What the Lowe's people don't need to be doing is trying to sell this thing a grill.

Salesman (to bear): Hello, welcome to Lowe's. Grills? Grills are right over here.

No, you idiot! Get out your bear mace, play dead, and tell everyone else to walk calmly out of the store!

Salesman: Can you say "grilled salmon"? I can.

So now we've gone from selling a bear a grill to making stupid bear puns?

And let me put this out there -- how is it that a bear can walk into a Lowe's and instantly find a sales associate? Every time I've been to a Lowe's, there's like one guy out on the floor, and he's usually selling washers and dryers to somebody with a huge line queuing behind him.

Salesman: I think you're a big eater, am I wrong?

Please eat the salesman, bear. Please. Do us all a favor.

Salesman (imitating bear grunts): Ow.... ow..... outdoor furniture, right this way -- come on.

Oh, why didn't you just eat his face, bear...

I wonder if there is something that is professionally made that is clumsier and more retarded than this hack-tastic segue. And if there is, I don't know that I could even bring myself to blog about it. This is comedy at its most insipid and most demoralizing.

Salesman: Oh, you like this? Go ahead, sniff it.

Please get to the point. We're like 30 seconds into this and we just do not get the concept. What is the objective of putting the stupid bear in this ad?

Salesman: Is there a Mrs. Bear? Because we haven't talked about that. Couple cubs?

Are you hitting on the grizzly bear? Because that's what it sounds like. Is Lowe's a cover for a creepy bestiality ring or something?

I love the "we haven't talk about that" line. Spare me, Lowe's. You do not chummily converse with Lowe's sales associates (assuming you can find one) -- there's like one per store and you're lucky if you get 10 seconds to spit out your question.

Salesman (to bear who's looking at decking wood): Oh, I see you're looking at the Trex. Trex is the way to go. Yeah.

This is the only manufacturer plug in the commercial, and it's for a brand of wood. Do most people insist on trading up to name brand wood? Oh, and, hey sales guy -- any particular reason why Trex is the "way to go"? Remember, this isn't just an absurd 1-minute comedy about a bear buying shit at a store, it's also a commercial -- don't be afraid to sell me on something.

Voiceover: Time to come out of hibernation and head over for all your outdoor living needs.

Finally, we get to the point. It was just a man who was in hibernation! And he was dressed as a bear, or something. Or maybe he actually was a bear and then transformed into a human, like a weird Ovid poem. But, I generally get the idea. Finally.

Anyway, flimsy concept. What Lowe's was trying to say was, "It's Spring! Time to head to Lowe's to buy what you need to spruce up your outdoor space!" Instead, they went with, "It's Spring! You know what's funny? Bears! Here, we spent a bunch of money to poorly animate one walking through our store! Hope you like cornball puns!!"

Bear turned Man (to neighbor who is now a bear): How do you like your steak? (bear growls) Rawr? Oh, rare.

Oh man! Another pun! Everybody wins! That's almost as good as the "Ow...outdoor furniture" one! How do you guys come up with this stuff?!

So, you may not learn a single interesting thing about Lowe's or what they sell from this commercial, but I will give Lowe's this much: they really hit hard on the bear message. Their bear marketing sense is top-fucking-notch. That is a bear no one is soon to forget. What is it, I wonder, about a cheaply-animated bear that makes an ad so... incombearable?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sky Captain and the Mall of Tomorrow, Part II

I had too much stuff to fit into one post. Here's the second one.

"Mary, no! You had so much to live for! Oh, she's not dead, she's just relieving back pain in the most awkward, glassy-eyed way possible." With that kind of facial expression, are we sure this is helping her back pain?

Remember when you got married, and the entire wedding party was crushed by a runaway train? Relive the moment forever with Fucking Weird Photo Paintings™!

I love the bubble in the top right corner - "Makes a thoughtful anniversary gift!" If you had to tell the guy (it's always the guy) to buy it, no, it's not a thoughtful anniversary gift. Can't you just picture someone frantically flipping through SkyMall at 11:59 PM the night before his anniversary? "Come on, come on! Oh, Fucking Weird Photo Paintings™! That's so true, this would be thoughtful of me!"

If you actually hang this on the wall in your house, it's going to be "No sex for you," too.

(Seriously, no one is actually this big of a Seinfeld fan, right? Or is there just one guy who has a whole wall of autographed pictures of Seinfeld bit characters? "This is so great! I'm putting the Soup Nazi right between the Bubble Boy's 'It's Moors, you idiot!' picture and the picture of the Fusilli Jerry autographed by Jerry Stiller! This is so much better than having a girlfriend!")

Man, calm the fuck down. Can you imagine spending 200 dollars on a baseball autographed by someone with three career wins? Also, even when he was a reliever - when this copy was written, I assume - "Joba Time" never meant the end for the opposing team because he was a setup guy, not a closer (that job being held by Mariano Rivera). Maybe I'm biased, since I hate the Yankees, but come on - he has 42 career appearances. Isn't there some Little Leaguer somewhere that I can get a framed photo of?

This is the nerdiest fucking thing I have seen in my life. And I like geography. But this is barely a rung above buying one of those AT&T shirts, and then only because you're not paying a company to tacitly advertise for them.

Shirt-Wearer: Hi, everyone!
Friend: Uh, Bill, what the hell are you wearing?
Shirt-Wearer: Heh, yeah, pretty cool, huh? "Oh, check out my latitude!" Heh.
Friend: I'm sorry, are you my grandmother? I can't think of anyone else in the world who would wear that.
Shirt-Wearer: But it's like, my zip code... I'm, um, representing...
Friend: Okay, you know what? You are hereby uninvited from my bachelor party, as of right now.
Shirt-Wearer: Wait, dude, wait. Okay. If the stripper thinks it's cute, I get to stay.
Friend: Get out.

Finally, a couple bits of stupidity from Rosetta Stone, the language software. I just love how awkwardly that box is Photoshopped in there. Could it be any more obvious that he's not really holding it? Also, where is he supposed to be meeting this supermodel? Is he going to leave the farm, travel to Rome, and then stalk her? Or is her car going to "conveniently" break down in front of his farm, thanks to his payoffs to the guy at the toll booth who gave her directions and the guy at the filling station who let just enough air out of her tires? Next year we're going to see this exact same ad, except "Italian" will be replaced with "French," and this kid's shirt will, if you look closely, be made of human skin.

Nothing too horrible here, but I love the way they punctuated Phelps' endorsement, which makes it look like he was tricked into giving it.

Reporter: Michael, I understand you wanted to learn Chinese for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Phelps: That's right, and I discovered a way to learn Chinese in record time!
Reporter: And how was that?
Phelps: Well, I hired a private tutor, and she worked with me five days a week, and I worked really hard at my lessons.
PR Guy Posing as a Reporter: Uh, Michael, I understand you're an amateur historian. Can you tell us how the French scholar Jean-Fran├žois Champollion was able to crack the code of Egyptian hieroglyphics?
Phelps: Uh, well, thanks to the Rosetta Stone, he could see that -
PR Guy: [clicks off tape recorder] Got it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sky Captain and the Mall of Tomorrow

SkyMall: the perfect catalog for lazy and/or tacky people with huge amounts of disposable income. Let's make fun of it yet again, shall we?

This is - absolutely without question - the ugliest fucking thing I have ever seen in my life. The ugliest watch, anyway. "Most unique?" Unique in how terrible it is, sure. Polymer clay beads with faces painted on? Who the fuck thought of this? This is like the sort of thing where your kid makes you a horrible clay bead bracelet in art class and brings it home for you to wear. And you go, "Oh, sweetie, it's wonderful!" And then you wear it in front of them once, and then you hide it in a drawer for the rest of eternity. Because it's fucking horrible. And now they want you to pay $59 for it. This might be the biggest insult to the intelligence ever to appear in SkyMall.

"Five simple rules for living." And the first one is: "Live." If it went on to be like, "Breathe," "Eat," and "Drink Enough Water," maybe I'd buy it. Also, the fifth rule is: "Life." What the hell? First of all, that's not a verb; second of all, even if it were, it implies the same thing as "Live." I almost feel like this wasn't supposed to be five rules and the copywriter just fucked it up. Either way, I can't imagine that anyone who actually needed to be reminded of these little truisms would ever hang this kitschy piece of shit in their house at all, much less for $120.

Learn how to play the guitar... by not learning how to play the guitar. I'm not one of those guys who gets all whiny about "Guitar Hero" and complains that if you're going to spend all that time you should learn how to play a real guitar. But you know what? If you're going to spend all that time with a real guitar, maybe you should learn how to play it. Instead, this turns a real guitar into "Guitar Hero," except without the benefit of having thousands of screaming CGI fans. Who are you going to impress with this? If there was someone walking around at a party with this thing, I'd give them "just one finger." See if you can guess which.

Even more unabashed laziness. "Too tired to shake a glass back and forth? Do we have the product for you!" If you're not capable of shaking your own martini, you probably shouldn't be drinking one.

"It's D.I.Y. for D.U.I.?" I don't think those are quite the abbreviations you wanted. "Help yourself drive drunk using this classy device, which merely tells you if you're likely to be arrested if pulled over!" It's worth noting that there's probably very little difference between a "legal" BAC of, say, .072, and the United States limit of .08 when it comes to slowed reactions behind the wheel. So I can't say I'm really okay with this thing giving you a sanction to drive under the influence. Oh, but it says at the bottom: "Remember: Never drink and drive." Of course! Because there are... other reasons I would need to know my BAC? "Just curious, man, you know."

I also love that the device records up to 0.40, which in addition to being five times the legal limit is considered to be the median lethal dose for alcohol. If that number is appearing on the screen, there's almost no chance you're going to be able to read it; you probably wouldn't even have been able to blow into the device without passing out.

Yes, help keep your bags from being stolen by making them too embarrassing for anyone else to take!

Airport Guard: Sir, is that your bag?
Man: Of course.
Airport Guard: The one that says "Who are you calling an old bag?" on the side?
Man: Oh. Oh FUCK. No. That is not my bag.
Airport Guard: You just said...
Man: I was trying to steal it, okay? Look, just arrest me. I'd rather go to jail than have you think I bought and used that piece of shit.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Let's just take a step back

I admire what Esurance has been able to do in the insurance world, but I think it's time to rein it in a little.

What the fuck? I'm serious - there may not be a more annoying 30 seconds on television right now if you ignore all messages and just focus on the ad's construction. I don't even know what "Esurance Fan Favorite" means - I'm guessing some kind of website vote of the sort, "Which song would you like us to use in an ad?" - but the fans needed some better choices if this is what won. The guy's clearly proficient with a guitar, but he can't possibly be serious with this - it's like he's just playing some awful joke on music. And if he is serious, I don't even know what to say.

But this is yet another step in Esurance's not-terribly-graceful path from "solid, to-the-point advertising campaign with an appealing look" to "choking on our own popularity." This ad, for example, has nothing to do with anything. I can't recall seeing another Esurance ad that didn't explicitly lay out their "Quote, Buy, Print" mantra; this plays more like the opening credits for the upcoming Erin Esurance animated TV series. (Frankly, I'm getting a little worried now.)

The problem is that Erin Esurance got a little too popular. Like, popular in ways that it's fucking creepy how popular. I'm not going to link to the page where she's naked, but I'm sure you can figure out how to use Google (you got here, didn't you?). And that's the unofficial stuff; we all know how scary the internet can get. But there's an "Erin Esurance Fan Fiction" page on Esurance's own website. (The worst part about that is that there's no indication whatsoever that it was actually written by some fan, which means they probably forced some intern to churn it out. I mean, it's just as well, because the last thing we needed was a company posting, like, Erin/Mrs. Butterworth slash fiction on its website, but why include it at all?)

Esurance hasn't exactly dissuaded anyone from this type of behavior, either; her ass is drawn a little too lovingly in this ad (about 12 seconds in). They've even got a helpful "photo gallery" (really just a bunch of stills from the various ads) on their site, where we find this shot from a couple seconds later in that same ad:

You see what I mean by "a little too lovingly," right?

There's nothing inherently wrong with sex appeal in commercials, and a subject like auto insurance couldn't hurt to have some sprucing up... but we're talking animated characters here. And not just that, but pretty much actively inviting the audience to masturbate to said character. It's like having Jessica Rabbit sell mutual funds; possibly effective, but a little weird.

I guess if it creates an army of Esurance loyalists, then more power to them; they got what they wanted. But that brings me back to the ad that started this whole discussion. I hate it for some of the same reasons why I hate this Mac vs. PC ad - it's just a kind of weird in-joke for people who already have Esurance. It strips the message out of the ad entirely - if, for some reason, you didn't know or couldn't guess what Esurance was from the name, this ad would baffle you until the last two seconds, by which point you would probably have already turned it off because the guy's voice is so annoying. This is an effective ad? It's just catering to the fans. Maybe if you're a big beer company you can make your commercial as ridiculous and unconnected to beer as you want; your product sells itself. Does Esurance sell itself? Not sure we're at that point yet. Pull it back in, guys.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Do you still have money? Then get back in the casino

I'm having a really hard time deciding which part of this ad is more horrible.

First Guy: "What's next?"

Hmm. How about you break into the world's most awkward parody of a one-hit wonder song from 30 years ago?

Smirking Asshole: "Ooh, we're at Mohegan Sun, having fun / Playing all the games in the big casino"

All the games? Really? Every last one? How much money do you guys have left?

SA: "But there's so much more to do / Get some food"

Oh, they have food there? How unlike every other place in the world.

SA: "Play a round of golf or grab a cappuccino"

He's way too excited about getting coffee (which you can also do pretty much anywhere). All of this stuff, by the way, costs yet more money, besides your gambling losses. On the bright side, if you lose enough money you can probably get some of that stuff comped.

Women: "Now we're gonna shop till we drop"

So in addition to the casino, they have a mall there? Why don't they just have a gigantic vacuum over the entrance to suck all the cash directly out of your pockets?

SA: "We never want to say goodbye-eye-eye-eye-eye, woo!"

I mean, I guess all this stuff sounds fun enough. And Vegas has all kinds of crazy crap. On the other hand, it's Vegas, not exurban Connecticut. You never want to say goodbye? Where are you going to get the money to keep gambling?

Tagline: "Could you use some Sun?"

Better put on some WPF (Wallet Protection Factor) 50 before you head over there. Aren't these ads supposed to have some fine print about what to do if you have a gambling problem? No, you gotta keep coming! There's so many ways for you to give us your money! They're not even all gambling!

Still, I think the horrifying parody song is the worse part of this ad. "My Mohegan?" You didn't even try to make it rhyme with the original. And the idea of talking about this huge casino that just wants your money using a personal possessive... well, that gets back to my first issue, I suppose. Anyway, I guess it's probably hard to find songs with lyrics that sound like "Mohegan Sun" - there's another in this series where they substitute it for "Super Freak," which is also not even close. All the more reason not to make annoying ads like this one. I know the idea is to get the song stuck in people's heads, but maybe you should have chosen songs that people would want stuck in their heads. "My Sharona"? One of the most annoyingly ubiquitous songs of the 1980s? Yeah, I want to be humming that all day. Score one for the Sun!

If you do want to have "My Sharona" (or some variant thereof) stuck in your head all day, though, I've come up with this version which I think represents the casino a bit more faithfully:

When you gonna bleed me dry, b-bleed me dry
Is it just a matter of time, Mohegan
Is it gonna make me cry, m-make me cry
When I give you every last dime, Mohegan
Never gonna stop playing games
Every time I win a little on the slots, well it just fans my habit's flames
At my, my, my-y-y, woo!
M-m-m-my Mohegan

Hey, they've got a lunch buffet, l-lunch buffet
Now I never ever have to leave Mohegan
How much am I gonna weigh, g-gonna weigh
'Cause moving from the table's my pet peeve, Mohegan
Gonna take a hit on this card 'cause I've got a system
Dealer didn't bust, well that sucks, I'm another victim
My, my, my-y-y, woo!
M-m-m-my Mohegan
M-m-m-my Mohegan

And I can go shopping too, sh-shopping too
I'm just never gonna spend enough, Mohegan
Will another thousand do, th-thousand do
Got my ATM card in my stuff, Mohegan
Gambling's a vice, so they say
But the people who wrote this ad think it's nice, gets them paid
So let's all go back to my, my, my-y-y, woo!

You get the idea.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How dare you sell products other than ours!

Denny's is very upset about something. So upset that they apparently had to call in the Mafia a totally non-stereotypical guy with a New York accent. What are they upset about?

"Is this non-Denny's restaurant selling the Grand Slam, a breakfast item trademarked by Denny's? No? Well, then they can just get fucked!"

Yeah, I know, the actual "joke" here is that only the Grand Slam is good enough to be called the "Ultimate Breakfast." Somehow I'm not sure that having the mob this unaffiliated Italian-American gentleman tear the sign down is really the classiest way to go about this. I also love the "Do not attempt" fine print. Is anyone that much of a Denny's loyalist?

By the way, here's the Grand Slam as pictured: two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon, and two sausage links. Yeah, you can't get a breakfast like that anywhere. What are you, fucking kidding me? Pancakes, sausage, bacon and eggs? The four most obvious components of any restaurant's breakfast menu? "Make way for the Grand Slam! Can't get a breakfast like this anywhere else on the planet!" At least show like a t-bone steak or a bloody mary or something.

Also note the fine print here: "Price and participation may vary." This fine print is always great. The signature item at Denny's and they might not have it? Wait a minute. Does that mean it's okay for us to go there and tear their sign down? Sweet. Gas up the Oldsmobile, baby!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

And for dessert, a triple bypass

This ad from Pizza Hut is probably a year old. But since they're still airing it, I thought I should post about it. About 5 or so years ago, Pizza Hut first launched the P'zone, a kind of amateurish, overly processed calzone stuffed with nasty pizza toppings. Windier and I were still in college at the time, and we kept seeing these Tommy Davidson commercials talking about the "P'zone revolution." Mildly intrigued, but mostly bored, we set out one night to track down a P'zone for ourselves (only Papa Johns delivered in town). When we finally got around to tasting the P'zone, I quickly decided that it would be the last new Pizza Hut product I'd ever try.

P'zone? We meet again:

Boys: Yo Mooch.

This guy is a such a pain that his nickname is "mooch"? You guys gotta get some new friends.

Mooch: What you boys got there?

Guy: It's a P'zone.

Mooch: It's huge.... so, uh...

Boys: No!

Even the description on the YouTube video said this was the "lamest commercial ever made." While I appreciate the enthusiasm, I've certainly seen some lamer comedy in commercials. But yes, this blows. This is just a sad, tired attempt at humor. Anyway, let's cut to the meat of this commercial....

Announcer: It's back, the Pizza Hut P'zone is yours alone. Over one pound -


- of melted cheese and tasty toppings baked in a pizza crust. A big eat for the tiny price of $5.99.

Over one pound! That's sick! Who needs a pound of food? They might as well package this with a flask of Everclear and a money-saving coupon for a carton of cigarettes.

How many of these could one person eat, you may find yourself asking. Luckily, Pizza Hut's figured that out for you. The answer is four and a half. And that record is set by the best competitive eater in the world. A guy who once ate 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes. That ought to tell you something about these P'zones -- 1 P'zone=14.5 hot dogs. Of course, that doesn't stop Pizza Hut from inviting you to try to competitively eat your own P'zones, as it says on its website, "Think you can do better? Then order a P'zone or two right now and hold your own challenge!" What a fun home game for the kids!

And that brings up the question about how healthy it might be to stuff your face with one (or two!) big, meaty P'zone(s) (you know this can't be good):

1 Meaty P'zone -- Calories: 1380. Fat: 58g (90% of daily value.) Sodium: 3460 mg (142% of daily value.)

"Okay, so after I polish off my P'zone I can still have 10% of my daily fat intake left. Perfect. Just enough for a lowfat yogurt and some pita. But, I'll have to wait until mid-day tomorrow before I eat any salt. All in all, a small price to pay for enjoying what looks like a deflated football filled with sebaceous fluid."

Guy: Hey, Mooch, you want one?

Mooch: Yeah!

Guy: Order up! (tosses phone.)

Maybe the YouTube video description was right. This has brought lame comedy to a new.... whatever the superlative of lame comedy is. Doesn't leave me wanting more. Or any to begin with.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A visibly drunk LeBron James shuffles to the free throw line...

Michelob Ultra seems to be confusing itself for Vitamin Water these days.

Voiceover: "You'll be surprised what's inside."

Based on the enormous orange you just zoomed through, I'm guessing I won't be all that surprised.

Voiceover: "Michelob Ultra fruit-infused beers. Tuscan Orange Grapefruit, Pomegranate Raspberry... and Lime Cactus."

We're still talking about beer, right? Not like wine coolers or Boone's Farm? Or Gatorade? Oh, right. You do want to be Gatorade. Here's even more proof of that:

Look, Michelob Ultra. I don't care how few carbs your beer has. It's beer, not some kind of health drink. It's only a "smart choice" relative to other beers, which is only saying so much. And what does it even mean for the beer to have "more than one dimension?" Because... it's both beer and a good Atkins Diet option? This is so stupid. If you're that concerned about cutting calories, stop drinking beer, you idiots. What's the degree of taste difference between Michelob Ultra and water anyway?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Southern snoozepitality

This commercial is hardly offensively bad. But wow, does it just go on.

Man: "Population of Lynchburg, 361."

Facts about Lynchburg: 1. Mentions of Jack Daniel's: 0. This will become something of a running theme.

Man: "About 8:00 in the morning Lynchburg kinda comes to life."
Other Man: "You might hear a dog bark every once in a while."
Another Man: "We're pretty normal people, we just live in a slower-paced."

That last guy was speaking so slowly that the ad people just cut off his last word, because they couldn't let the commercial run three more minutes so he'd actually have time to say it.

Guy with Glasses: "We ain't in no hurry around here, it takes a lot of waiting to make good whiskey."

Believe me, it's quite obvious that no one involved with this commercial is in any kind of hurry.

[brief scenes of whiskey actually being made]
Guy: "Everybody knows everybody."
Randy Baxter: "My name is Randy Baxter."
Other Dude: "Randy Baxter? Everybody 'round here knows him as Goose."
Another Dude: "Goose!"
Sammy: "Goose Baxter! You know Big Goose."

I know more about Big Goose at this point than I know about Jack Daniel's. Is this an ad for the Lynchburg Tourism Bureau?

Guy with Glasses: "Sammy's just Sammy."
Sammy: "My grandpa told me, he said, 'Sammy-'"
Another Guy Again: "Sammy, he's a talker."
Sammy: "'I don't want you off the ground any higher than your horse's back, and I don't want you in water deeper than the bathtub.'"

Never mind, this isn't selling me on Lynchburg itself, either. For those of you keeping score, we now know more about Sammy's grandfather's house rules than we do about making Jack Daniel's. Or anything about Jack Daniel's. Do these guys even work for the company? Where did they pull them from?

Some Other Guy: "When you get through talking, you're trying to figure out what he said."

Good thing you gave him like ten full seconds of your ad, then.

[everyone laughs]

I am asleep.

Voiceover: "Lynchburg, Tennessee. Every drop of Jack Daniel's ever made, we've made right here."

"And you wouldn't believe how hard it was to make that whiskey with Sammy there talking your ear off! That Sammy! Ha ha ha! What a character! I remember that time his grandpa told him not to go in water that was too deep so he wouldn't drown. Wakka wakka!"

Come on, Jack Daniel's. I know the brand sells itself at this point, but why bother advertising at all if this is what you're going to do with it? Do you think the primary demographic of 19-year-old college kids gives a shit about Big Goose Baxter? Why even spend the money to air it? Couldn't you just use that to pay for more duckling feed or whatever the shit you're doing down there that has very little to do with whiskey?

I think you misunderstood the concept of "blogging"

Those of us who write or read blogs probably have some understanding of the ongoing friction between the main stream media, like newspapers (or TV commercials!), and new media, like blogging. If you're not familiar with it, here's a link to the funniest site on the web that illustrates this argument through the narrow lens of sports media criticism. Now I'm going to discuss blogs vs. MSM under the even narrower lens of advertising criticism. So, get excited! (Note: do not actually get excited.)

I haven't had much of a problem with these Twix "Need a moment?" commercials. They seem fine. But then the latest one hit the airwaves, and it made me wonder if maybe I was being kind of mercilessly pandered to:

Girl: (with attitude) Frankly I just feel like some politicians are completely out of touch with 99 percent of society.

Never has such a vague, obviously true statement had so much bluster behind it. Everyone knows that some politicians are out of touch.

Guy: Yeah... and it's like... the mainstream media's fault.

It's the MSM's fault that some politicians are out of touch? Doesn't follow. This is supposed to be like a bullshit answer on the guy's part, but then the girl agrees with him. Ba-whaa?

Girl: You said it! Finally someone who shares my struggle.

Guy: I know, right. Do you wanna go to my apartment?

Girl: What?


Girl: What kind of girl do you think I am?

"Um, a super sexy one who gets really worked up over everything? What a turn-on!"

Anyway, then our hero chews it over with a Twix, which, by the way, is capable of momentarily stopping time.

Guy: I thought you were a believer. Someone who'd want to blog about our ideals.

Girl: Oh, blogging! I love blogging! (leaves with guy to go blog)

Sigh. That's not how it works. People don't go blogging together. It's not something you do with someone you just met, even in a commercial that's trying to be hip and young and "funny." This is a great example of the mainstream media being their old media selves. "What's going to get young Twix eaters excited? Oh, hey, how about blogs! Maybe they can all go blog together about Twix!"

No one really "loves" blogging. Loving blogging is kind of an absurd idea. It's like loving "typing" or "making copies of a memo" or "cranking a movable type printing press." Blogging is just one of many ways to get your thoughts and feelings heard. It's a communication technology medium. It's not like more fun than a party, or a good date activity, or foreplay or anything like that. Also, just because young people do it doesn't make it cool. Plenty of weird, uncool people blog, too.

Man, it's commercials like these that show how sad and old traditional advertising is starting to sound. Makes me fe --

Tag along with them at

Hmm. Okay, I'll bite. I'm into potentially stupid online marketing components... (visits

Okay, so basically it's like a choose-your-own-adventure story from when you were a kid. That is, if your choose-your-own-adventure-stories involved blatant stereotypes and an overall atmosphere of male chauvinism. So, you're on a date with that girl, and you have to get her home while avoiding a gay cockblocker named "Bruce" and a random Frenchman, "Francois," while all the while hiding your inner inadequacies as a partner. Also, every time you have to choose something you eat a Twix. What would you think if you were on a date and during the conversation your date ate four Twix bars while talking to you? Answer: You would return home and blog about how awesome Twix are. Right?

The final decision you have to make, and the one that will determine whether or not you get anywhere with this chick, is to either "Be honest" or "Keep up the charade." Guess which one of these "gets" you the girl? Hint: it's the same decision Twix made when they decided to develop this whole commercial.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

You can never have too much bad commercial

Apparently we just got this California-based convenience store chain here in Chicago. The only reason I know this is because I can't get away from this commercial:

Wait a second -- a store that serves junk food? Why didn't I think of that?! Finally, a place where ol' Johnny Paycheck can shop after work and buy candy or chips or hot dogs that have been sitting on steel rollers under a heat lamp since the night before.

I'm not sure why we need another c-store chain. I'm also unclear as to how, exactly, am-pm is different than, say, 7-11. Maybe these lyrics will lend some insight:

When I get up or when I'm on my way home
Time to go 'cause I'm wanna have fun

The first guy we see is in a bathrobe - presumably he just "got up" and wanted to "have fun." So naturally he came to a convenience store to get soda.... in his bathrobe. I dunno, so far the clientele isn't exactly wowing me.

Now I'm in the zone, and it's no wonder
Gonna pick me up some fun and share with everyone that you know

"In the zone"?? How can you be "in the zone" when you're shopping at a convenience store? This isn't the NBA playoffs, it's filling up an enormous container with different types of soda. "He goes for the Mr. Pibb -- he pushes it... can he mix it with the grape Fanta? Wait for it -- Yes! Nails it! He's in the zone! He has created the most delicious soda combination in the history of snack shops."

Also, we see one of these guys putting ketchup on a hot dog. Uh, this commercial is specific to Chicago, right? Putting ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago could get you punched in the face at some establishments. It's a big no-no, and pretty inexcusable in an ad introducing a junk food hawker to Chicagoland.

(Question: is it just me, or is there a surprisingly loud and almost flatulent squirting sound when someone dumps a nameless condiment into some kind of bag? The quality of this video is so bad that I can't quite confirm that. If that is indeed a squirting sound, why they hell would they put that in there? "Humor"?)

Hey hey, go go, man, you can't beat this feeling
This good stuff's got me thinking

Nonsense. These lyrics are totally meaningless, and plus -- this whole song just reminds me of this brilliant South Park ditty. I'd say the lyrics are pretty much on par.

You can never have too much good stuff, Chicago

But we can definitely have too much junk food. That's definitely true. I mean, that's why they call it junk food, because it's terrible for you and you can most certainly have too much of it.

Overall, what's appetizing or appealing about the presentation of the food in this commercial? It's just heaps of colorful wrappers all mish-mashed together. And people doing stupid dances that aren't funny, or middle aged men making a soda cocktail, or waving a corndog in the air, or a fat guy carrying home his trashy haul in a baby's stroller. I think back to my college years, my junk food prime, and I just don't see this resonating with me. It's just weird and gross.

How about trying to make food look good? Or showing a nice close-up food shot? Or doing anything that makes am-pm seem at all different from about a thousand other stores that sell the same kind of crap?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Shot Not Heard Round the World

If you're anything like me, you were brokenhearted when you heard the recent news about Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz's wrist injury. Not because of the effect on the Red Sox offense, mind you, but rather because of what this portends for one of the goofiest sports promotions of the year. State Farm Insurance teamed up with Major League Baseball to offer a sweepstakes where one winner gets a trip to the midsummer classic and an opportunity to call David Ortiz's shot at the Home Run Derby. That's right -- you get to point somewhere and have Big Papi attempt to hit a ball to that location. But now with Ortiz on the disabled list, will this mean no "called shot"?

Well, that possibility certainly hasn't stopped State Farm from talking about their promo. Here are screen grabs of this four-phase banner ad (found on today, click for larger view):

You know the place where calling Big Papi's shot meets. . . making a childhood dream come true.

Actually, I'm not familiar with that place, State Farm. In fact, that's kind of one of the most absurd sentences I've ever read.

I'm there.

This is a sloppy tie-in with State Farm's commercial campaign. Taken literally, it's pretty stupid, "I'm there"? No. You're not. One person who wins this sweepstakes is "there."

You could win a trip to the MLB 2008 All-Star Game and tell David Ortiz where to hit one at the Home Run Derby.

Okay, few things:

1. Is this really a "childhood dream"? Isn't the archetypal baseball dream calling your shot while actually playing baseball? Instead, according to State Farm, your childhood dream is standing next to David Ortiz (which, by the way, would make you look tiny) in front of 60,000 people and awkwardly pointing somewhere in the outfield stands. Thank you, State Farm, for granting my greatest wish! I sort of, in a small way, impacted a potential home run from David Ortiz, who is, apparently, my childhood hero. Wow!

2. Can David Ortiz just, like, hit a home run at a designated spot by sheer will? I know he's getting batting practice pitches here, and he's averaged almost 42 dingers/year in the last five seasons with the BoSox, but is he really that good? He's never finished better than fourth in the Derby. Like, what if I win and I want to point to the far corner of left field? What's he going to do about that? Just crank one the other way when he clearly isn't able to do that whenever he wants? Seems pretty nutty. Maybe if he gets like 30 pitches for that one homer?

3. Babe Ruth's famous called shot did not, in fact, take place at Yankee stadium. It was in a World Series game at Wrigley Field. So, why, exactly, is this promotion featuring a player not on Ruth's flagship team taking place at a stadium that isn't Wrigley?

The only upshot is that it's pissing off Yankees fans. Some are complaining that this demeans the legacy of Ruth, or The Stadium, or whatever. Bugger off, Yankees fans.

Finally, let me share a couple promotion details from the State Farm web site:

Grand-prize winner will meet David Ortiz* and call their shot at the State Farm Home Run Derby® for a chance to win a Chevy Tahoe hybrid & a 2009 MLB ticket package

Wow, that Chevy Tahoe sure as hell has nothing to do with baseball or insurance. Pretty random -- but wait! Is that an asterisk I see right there?

*Actual athlete to participate in "Call Your Shot" event to be designated by Sponsor and may not be athlete mentioned

"Note: David Ortiz Home Run Derby Contest does not actually feature David Ortiz."

So I guess that answers the question of whether they had a contingency plan in case Ortiz went on the DL, or if he sucked and didn't make the AS Game (see: "Minnesota, David Ortiz's career in".) I mean, they're an insurance company, so of course they thought of something, right?

And, to the future winner of the State Farm/David Ortiz Home Run Derby Contest: Enjoy calling Carlos Quentin's shot at the All-Star Game.