Sunday, November 30, 2008

Possibly the worst commercial ever made

It's hard to define the "worst commercial ever made." But I think I would suggest that some good qualifications for the title would be (a) being incredibly unfunny; (b) featuring things that no human would ever say; and (c) being really creepy. Congratulations, AT&T: the only way this ad could have been worse is if it were also racist.

Black guy's thumbs: "Funny is knocking at the door, and he wants to partay!"

This is not funny. It is not something anyone would ever say to indicate that they found something funny. And good God, those thumbs with the faces on them are creepy as fuck.

Nerdy white guy's thumbs: "That's insanium in the cranium, dawg!"

Kill me.

Goth girl's thumbs: "I'm laughing on the dark, abysmal inside. Heh heh."

Ugh. Hey, goths like dark things! You knew that, right? Please let this end.

Guy with a hat's thumbs: "Shake your funny-maker. Shake it. Shake it hard."

I would like to shake the person who wrote this ad hard. And slap them across the face a few times.

Blonde woman's thumbs: "If they bottled that kind of funny, I'd buy it! Hilarity, by Daryl."

The bottled version of this ad: "Crippling Head Pain, by AT&T."

Announcer: "How would you say LOL?"

Not any of those ways, not in a million years. And neither would anyone else. Ever.

Announcer: "With a full keyboard, it's easier to text it how you say it."

Oh God. That's the point of this ad? That is all you were using this ridiculous bullshit to sell? Guess what - even with a full keyboard on a computer, when I indicate that something is funny, I might type the onomatopoeia of a laugh. I would not, in a jillion fucking years, write that something funny my friend said was "insanium in the cranium," and anyone who would should immediately be euthanized for the good of humanity.

More importantly, why did they have to use the horrible, creepy talking thumbs? God, they're awful. This ad was written, produced, looked at by probably dozens of people, and apparently not one of them said "This is really awful" or "This isn't funny at all" or "Those thumbs look like garbage and they're terrifying" or anything. Or, which would be worse, these things were said and AT&T just figured that the public at large will laugh at anything. Based on the YouTube comments, it seems like that might be true. Gag.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cars > Ponies

Maybe I'm just a cynic, but... well, okay, I'm a cynic. But television starts to give me a really queasy feeling in my stomach around the holidays. I mean more than usual. One yearly offender is the ads run by that purveyor of expensive automobiles, always an easy sell in a slow economic climate, Lexus.

Yeah! Fuck you, pony!

So, if I get this right, Lexus is claiming that getting a car is more exciting/meaningful to an adult woman than getting a pony is to a seven-year-old (or whatever) girl. I call bullshit. Did you not see how jealous Annemarie was? You can't buy that kind of reaction.

I almost feel like Lexus runs these ads every year just to piss me off. Are there really more than a few hundred people in the entire world who actually make purchases like this? Especially in the current economic situation? Why, what could be more perfect than a $40,000 car, just for me! You saw the big bow, right? We'd better run right out and get one. Very financially sound.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What happens in Levi's stays in Levi's

Levi's is running with the slogan "Live unbuttoned." This apparently translates to "Live unencumbered by laws or prudence."

Don't get me wrong, people. I like sex as much as the next person. I'm pretty sure I don't like it in this configuration, however. I'm also not sure how this sells jeans. Or anything besides morning-after pills.

Zane: "My name's not really Zane."
Lucia: "My name's not really Lucia."

Pff. Big deal. I've seen worse in Vegas ads. Well, no I haven't, because I've yet to see a Vegas ad that features actual undressing (this ad can't air before 10 pm anywhere, can it?). Still, anonymity, that's, um, spicy? Continue.

Not-Zane: "I'm not really in a band."
Not-Lucia: "I don't really work for a label."

Not-Zane seems a little disappointed that he's not the only one who's spent the entire night bullshitting. I'd say there was a commentary on the nature of gender relations here, but give me a fucking break. Levi's is about to sell you jeans by showing you people's underwear.

Zain't: "I live in Detroit, not LA."
Whocia: "Well, I've never been to Manhattan."

Ooh, fucking one-upped again, dude! Zain't is not going to be able to take much more of this.

Zain't: "Truth is, I've been sleeping in my car."

Homeless people: fucking sexy.

Whocia: "That's okay. This isn't my apartment."

And this is where I go from being just mildly skeeved to realllly having issues with whatever Levi's thinks they're doing here. Zain't briefly turns on the light to reveal that a black family lives there (they had to be black so it was easy to tell from pictures, of course), then turns it back off so the commercial, for jeans, I should stress, can end with dirty, dirty fucking on the floor of a stranger's apartment. And just for good measure, here's your slogan: "Live unbuttoned."

Now that is living. Anonymous, likely unprotected sex with someone you'll never see again ("Live unbagged") with a B&E thrown in for good measure? I'll obey the law when I'm dead, dude! And on the bright side, if he catches a gross enough STI, the other inmates might actually leave him alone. For the first week.

I was kidding before, but this might as well be an ad for RU-486. It certainly sells that a hell of a lot better than it sells jeans - I mean, who is paying any attention to the jeans? 99% of this ad's viewership is either being outraged or masturbating, and the last 1% is actually doing both. The plot has nothing to do with jeans (unless you count taking them off, which I do not) and the end of the ad goes so far as to imply that Levi's are at their best lying on the floor while you have sex five feet away. Which I guess would be fine if the slogan were befitting the ad, like "Levi's: Put 'em on to take 'em off" or some shit. Instead, we get the faux-profound "Live unbuttoned," which doesn't just rationalize the ridiculous behavior on display, it actively endorses it. If people want to break into apartments to have anonymous sex, I guess that's their business (aside from the property crime part), and it's not like adults can't parse this ad. But there's always a risk that kids might be watching, I don't care what timeslots were bought. Isn't it just a bit much to make this seem like "the cool thing to do?" Especially considering that kids and teenagers are the most impressionable viewers of ads. Your dad isn't watching this and thinking "I gotta get me a pair of those jeans."

It's a bad ad because it doesn't sell its product well enough, but more importantly I just don't see why they went the direction they did. There was certainly no need to do so. Even the sex on its own would have been one thing - it probably still would have bugged me, but to go the extra mile and throw in petty crime (if not worse) for no necessary reason and then celebrate it? Come on, Levi's. I'd say "You're better than this," but historically I'm not sure you have been much better than this, so instead I'll just say "You really ought to consider being better than this."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Take our word for it -- our product is good for you!

Forget everything you know about high fructose corn syrup. Now watch this ad and see if you think it's safe:

Now, I'm not a nutritionist (summary: corn syrup has stronger links to obesity and various diseases than sugar), and I'm not an environmental expert (summary: along with ethanol, corn syrup discourages crop diversity and requires more use of pesticides) -- so let's just look at the commercial itself to see if it really serves to sway opinion.

Mom #1: (looking at the unlabeled jug of red juice being poured at kids birthday party) Wow, you don't care what the kids eat, huh?

Mom #2: Excuse me?

Mom #1: That has high fructose corn syrup in it.

Mom #2: And?

AND it's murdering your children, lady! That liquid just bubbled up from Hell!! You're serving your children sweet, syrupy death juice!!!

I mean come on -- just blithely dismissing the notion that a chemical might, might, be dangerous to your child's health? I think the public deserves a little bit more information than a character in a commercial just being like "So? There's a weird chemical in my kid's food? Who gives a shit? He ain't dead yet, okay?"

Mom #1: You know what they say about it.

Mom #2: (still smugly pouring sweetened juice) Like what?

Mom #1: I mea-- uh....

Apparently corn syrup critics are also the stupidest, least informed people in the universe.... according to the Corn Refiner's Association.

Mom #2: (arrogantly and profusely patronizing) That's it's made from corn?

And the potent narcotic opium is made from poppies. Your point?

Mom #2: Doesn't have artificial ingredients....

Nothing from nature has ever killed anybody, right?

Mom #2: ... and like sugar, it's fine in moderation?

Mom #1: (picks up glass of corn syrup liquid, takes swig)

Apparently corn syrup critics are also the most easily persuaded people in the universe... according to the Corn Refiner's Assocation.

So, did you think corn syrup was somehow bad for you before you saw this ad? Yeah? Well I bet you feel like a complete asshole now! If you want to be talked down to some more, and see more complete dummies like you suggest that corn syrup isn't the single greatest ingredient on Planet fucking Earth, then check out Sweet here. Because there are two more ads that follow this exact template, each more patronizing and insulting than the next!

Here's the thing about this commercial -- besides being a misleading, information-less vamp, does it really do anything to quell people's misgivings about corn syrup? Say you knew nothing about corn syrup when you saw the ad -- wouldn't this obvious snow job make you awfully suspicious? Wouldn't you want to do some digging to find out more (and by digging around I mean going to places other than

"High Fructose Corn Syrup: What do you mean you've heard it's unhealthy and environmentally destructive? Haven't you seen our ad?!?"

Credit where credit is due

A lot of people who have visited this site recently have done so by searching for the ad which I talked about a few weeks ago. It was one of our most heavily-read and heavily-commented-upon posts, and, to put it mildly, not everyone who read it agreed with my assessment of it. So, to show you that I don't just have a bias against Southerners, here is the latest ad in Overstock's Joey and Rory series, which I thought was much better and which I will not be snarky about.

This is a significant improvement over the other ad, for any number of reasons.

1. Joey and Rory are not allowed to talk.
Whoops, already broke my vow of non-snarkiness. But seriously, though - by avoiding things like the awkward phone conversation at the beginning of the other ad, this one stays much more on message.

2. The premise is much better integrated with the Overstock brand.
In the other ad, as I noted, the Overstock branding really doesn't have a lot to do with the plot. By comparison, the plot of this ad involves buying presents for friends, and suggests that is a good place to do that. That's a lot better than just the purchase of a single guitar (which, by the way, Rory is not playing in this ad, proving that he already owned a guitar and rendering the other ad even stupider in hindsight).

3. takes credit for something they can realistically take credit for.
In the other ad, Overstock basically implies that they have something to do with Joey and Rory being in love, which is clearly a ridiculous reach. In this ad, the only thing Overstock is really taking credit for is facilitating Joey's generosity, which strikes me as a perfectly reasonable thing to claim.

4. The song is much, much more appealing.
Possibly because Joey and Rory did not write it. (Oops. Sorry again. It's hard to just turn off.)

So, there you have it. A solid ad that I did not have problems with, that features Joey and Rory in their down-home milieu. Everyone who suggested that I have something against the South is hereby instructed to get off my case. I do have one complaint about this ad, though - where the hell is Rufus? How could we not get a scene where someone unwraps a chew toy and gives it to him? Maybe it's in a 60-second version somewhere. Rufus' fans demand it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pepto-Bismol: Good for treating diarrhea, and also maybe diarrhea

Pepto-Bismol, as you probably know by now, treats the following symptoms: nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea. In the following ad, they seem to be focusing on just one of those five. Guess which one before you watch. Hint: it's the one that is hilarious.

I'm pretty sure this is web-only, which isn't surprising - if the FCC wouldn't let Bud Light's "Cut the Cheese" ad past, there's no way this would get through.

Pepto Guy [answering phone]: "Pepto-Bismol! Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea! Oh, yes sir, how are you today? Well, what have you ingested, sir? Okay, chimichanga... okay, salsa... all right, General Tso's chicken... I've never heard of a Chinese-Mexican restaurant. I think I see the problem here, sir, yeah."

That, my friends, is tedious. Tedious, not at all funny, and it takes up nearly half the ad on just this one dude's boring problem. Can we please get to the diarrhea? (Oh, spoiler alert: the thing they think is funny is diarrhea.)

Pepto Guy: "Oh... a what? An oopsie shart? What is a- oh, gosh!"

And right here is a big reason why this ad did not make it to air. On the off chance that you're not familiar with "shart" and somehow can't guess, it's a combination of "shit" and "fart." That's right! The hilarity! The shitting hilarity!

Pepto Guy: "Yeah, hello sir, I can hear you. Mm-hmm. You're up to your what in what?"

"You're up to your knees in shit? This is about shit, right? I mean, you're not up to your trachea in stomach acid."

Pepto Guy [put off his onion rings]: "Yeah. Oh dear."

We all know that upset stomachs are really, really disgusting. I guess maybe this guy could be calling about puking his guts out, but that's not funny, so I think we can feel free to assume it's also about diarrhea. Riotous!

Pepto Guy: "Loudly? Yeah. My wife does that in her sleep. Yeah, it's funny, yeah. Well, I can see why it would not be funny for you."

But it is funny for us. Farting is so hilarious that even awkward allusions to it crack me up!

Pepto Guy: "Really? Well, why w- why would you do that in your pants?"

One guess as to which of Pepto's target ailments you can do in your pants! See below for answer.

(Answer: Diarrhea!!!!!)

This is really the best use of the "Pepto Hotline" gimmick they could think of, apparently - people calling all day to complain about how they've just shit their pants. Really, why are they even calling? If they know Pepto cures diarrhea, maybe they should go out and buy some rather than calling this guy, who, by the way, is not shown providing one iota of help to any of these people. It's all just hilarious, hilarious jokes in the "I've got to repeat what Chewbacca just said back to him so the viewers know what he said" mold - and of the five jokes in the ad, fully three are definitively about either farting or diarrhea, and a fourth is almost certainly about diarrhea as well. Was this spot written by Peter Griffin?

On the bright side, this ad is so funny that I'm going to use its technique on this blog from now on. Welcome to "Who Are The Ad Wizards Who Came Up With This Diarrhea?" And stay tuned for future posts like "This Hyundai ad was so bad it gave me diarrhea!" and "McDonald's: I'm loving shitting my pants!" I predict a million hits by Wednesday.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It's a crazy world -- with stupid commercials

Some companies subscribe to the idea that if you create a commercial that's weird enough, then people will remember it and, by association, your product. The data to support this theory is inconclusive at best, and oftentimes what you see is people remembering a particular commercial but not the product. We've even seen examples of people reaching this site by searching for a particular ad with the wrong company (i.e. a description of a Toyota ad with "Honda" in the search string.)

That "memorability factor" is the only reason I can think of for the creation of this Sierra Mist ad:

(A man walks into a bar where everyone is drinking Sierra Mist. The bartender slides a plastic bottle of pop down the bar.)

Must be one of those wild cowboy saloons in Salt Lake City.

Man: It's a crazy world.

Apropos of absolutely nothing.

Man: I knew this girl who would do anything to get married.

Everyone else in the bar is paying rapt attention. And, why, exactly? Is this such an audacious statement?

Man: I call her, "the Wedding Girl."

Oh man, okay. Now I'm interested. Now that you've given her a self-evident identifier? I am putty in your able storytelling hands! Go on....

Scenes of the Wedding Girl at a reception where the narrator was apparently a bassist. She's beating up the other girls in the bridal party to be able to catch the bouquet -- doing anything to get married.

I guess if you find this particularly hilarious -- if you're a big Three Stooges fan, say -- then maybe you're going to remember this ad. But is there anything that make beating up girls at a wedding unique to Sierra Mist-brand lemon-lime soda pop? Anything?

Man: It's a crazy world. Drink Sierra Mist. It helps to refresh your mind.

Not until the end of the commercial does any of this ad make sense. Apparently Sierra Mist will help you cope with the craziness of phenomena like the Wedding Girl.

The big question is -- will Sierra Mist refresh my mind after seeing its own horseshit commercials?