Thursday, December 18, 2008

Abandon hope all ye who use Verizon

Every ad gimmick eventually runs its course. AT&T has been running with this "Beep! So-and-so's phone" thing for quite a while now; it was marginally funny at first, then eventually tiresome. And apparently it's not having the same effect that it used to, because AT&T has moved from "not having a signal will cause you to miss out on something cool" to, well, something a lot more threatening.

That's right! Use AT&T or you're fucking dead, pal! There's plenty of unrealistic, stupid ad bullshit about this spot, of course - the idea that a blast zone wasn't cleared of people before demolition went ahead; the idea that the blast zone was changed at the last possible minute such that a TV news crew couldn't have learned about it before leaving their office what, half an hour earlier at the most; the idea that "the outskirts of town" is some gaping cellular black hole anywhere in America at this point. But the simple fact that AT&T has moved from "I can't believe I didn't get to see Michael Phelps because of my cell phone" to "I'm about to die because I'm a stupid fucker who doesn't have AT&T" is more than a little disturbing, don't you think?

What's that, AT&T? You have an even more ludicrous way to portray this issue?

"Snowball's phone?" Are you fucking kidding me?

There must have been some magic in that old cell phone they found
For when they placed it to his ear he began to talk real loud
Snowball the snowman
Was a fairy tale they say
And who the fuck was trying to call him
It's not like snowmen have friends
And he's never shown trying to move around so I don't believe he could have escaped this heat wave regardless of whether or not he'd received that call
Also cell phones probably won't work too well if you leave them outside in the cold which maybe was a bigger problem than the number of bars

Just like you remember the tune, right?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What's a five-letter word for "Maker of obnoxious ads?"

A certain jewelry store's catchphrase is starting to become synonymous with everything that's annoying about the diamond industry. Unless you're that jewelry store, in which you'd like us to think people drop it regularly in conversations.

Woman 1: "So, how was last night?"
Woman 2: "Just a sec. What's a thirteen-letter phrase for 'marriage proposal?'"

"Hang on while, rather than answer your question, I do something stupid and gimmicky." Although doesn't she kind of ruin the surprise by actually saying "marriage proposal" here? Wouldn't virtually any person on the planet be tipped off by that? Not her friend, apparently.

Woman 1: [sounding bored, and rightfully so] "I have absolutely no idea."

You sure don't.

Woman 2: "Ooh, wait, I've got it! He went... to... Jared!" [holds up ring]
Woman 1: "He went to..." [sees ring] "He went to Jared!"
[wild celebration ensues]

The important thing is not that he proposed, or how he did it, or how romantic it was. It's the name of the jewelry store he went to. This is not how anyone actually behaves in real life, is it? Do you know people who are more excited by the provenance of a ring than its method of delivery?

This is a bad commercial (series of commercials) for one of two reasons, although I'm not entirely sure which. Reason one is that Jared is suggesting that this is how women actually behave, that they are more concerned with a ring's quality than anything else about the proposal. In other words, that women as a gender are money-grubbing whores. More to the point, it wants men to see the ad and think, "See, look how excited your girlfriend will be if you buy the ring at Jared!" Never mind that that's total bullshit in real life and that any woman who does flip the box over to see where the ring came from should immediately be dumped.

Reason two is the idea that Jared is actually trying to make "He went to Jared!" happen as an alternate for "He asked me to marry him!" Like, they want women to start telling their friends about their engagement by announcing that "He went to Jared!" That's terrible. I mean, it's not going to happen, but ew. The very fact that they're going for it repulses me. The "I take it you told her" line does a lot to sell this one, since I have to assume the guy is talking about their engagement and not that he went to Jared specifically.

I think it's probably a mixture. As we've seen in previous Jared ads, their thesis is basically that marriage proposals mean jack squat unless "he went to Jared." So it's not like it's all about how much the ring cost per se (he didn't go to Tiffany, after all), but it's certainly not about the proposal itself. How much do you think they would love it if the following happened?

Woman 1: Oh my God, Jeff is the sweetest. He met me yesterday after work and we went for a stroll in the park before sunset.
Woman 2: Yawn.
Woman 1: Then, we went out for a romantic dinner at my favorite restaurant in the city.
Woman 2: Big deal.
Woman 1: And then, it turned out he had brought the car downtown, and we took a moonlit drive up the coast with the top down!
Woman 2: What has two thumbs and is super bored by this story? This girl.
Woman 1: Then finally he pulled off at this scenic view, with the moon reflecting on the ocean, and he asked me to marry him! It was the best night of my life.
Woman 2: Snooze.
Woman 1: Oh, and uh... he went to Jared.
Woman 2: ZOMG [series of high-pitched squeals almost inaudible to the human ear]
Woman 1: I'm really lucky, aren't I?
Woman 2: Oh my God, you totally are. I mean, Jared.
Woman 1: The rest of it was pretty good t-
Woman 2: JARED.

That should probably be their next ad, come to think of it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dear Customers, You are retarded. Love, Wendy's

You're an idiot. Did you know that? You don't understand polysyllabic words or subtlety or anything outside of beef and beer. You're an undereducated, blue collar Joe Sixpack with just enough brains to navigate the local fast food drive-thru. Here, just check out this Wendy's commercial:

On-screen: "The reviews are in:", classical music plays in the background

Welder: Garlic sauteed portobello mushroom caress the taste buds.

On-screen: I love a good mushroom. - Rick, welder

See? This is why you're stupid. Because Wendy's has to translate things for you. You can't comprehend words like "sautee" or "portobello" or "caress" -- just one-, maybe two-syllable words is all your can wrap your tiny heads around. Especially if you're some shit-for-brains welder.

Security Guard: Punctuated by the boundless possibility of hickory-smoked bacon

On-screen: Bacon tastes good. - Stanley, parking security

Oh man, security guards are so stupid! Just like you. Doesn't the phrase "punctuated by the boundless possibility of" just sound awesome? Like Shakespeare wrote it or something? Don't you wish you could understand it? Ah, that's okay, Wendy's translated it again for you. "BACON=GOOD" -- can you at least grasp that? Maybe it would have been better if Wendy's had just shown a 30-second shot of sizzling bacon, then cut to a fat guy giving the camera a "thumbs up," then, boom, Wendy's logo. You know, in case you're completely illiterate.

Office Admin: Fresh beef is the canvas on which this hot and juicy masterpiece is painted.

On-screen: I like fresh beef. - Sonya, administrator

Hahaha. See, it's funny! Just the idea of a secretary being able to talk like that is hilarious. Of course, this woman isn't actually a secretary. She's an actress with two Rhodes Scholarship and eight Fields Medals. Wendy's paid her a lot of money to dress up like a stupid secretary and deliver that line of sheer fucking poetry.

Voiceover: There's a little gourmet in all of us.

Haha. This is another joke, actually. There's not really a gourmet in all of you. Wendy's just wants you to pretend like you have a brain because maybe that would make it easier to buy this burger. Anyway, stop being offended already, and get your fat, stupid ass down to your local Wendy's! Or, as you would say, "ME LIKEY BACON!" Haha. Moron!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Arby's: I'm thinking boner

As we've elucidated on this blog previously, Arby's seems to have a problem connecting their food with anything that's appetizing. Their latest effort has gone down the unfortunate path of food sexualization, which we have covered ad nauseum here at Ad Wizards. So, prepare yourself for ickiness:

Man (on bed, candles lit): Honey, almost ready?

Woman: You know I'm only doing this for your birthday.

Man: I know, and I appreciate it.

In case you paused the video at the 10 second mark, let me just remind you that, yes, this is a fast food commercial. Not, like, lingerie, or anything that's supposed to be sexy.

Woman: (walks into bedroom dressed as an Arby's crew member, holding a tray with a meal)

Man (showing pronounced double chin): Wow.

Sex appeal --the advertising weapon of last resort. Only when you truly have nothing to say about your product do you go for all-out innuendo. What is sexy about a chicken sandwich, fries and a drink? It's food. It should be treated as food, and reacted to as food. It is not sexually exciting. Hunger and sexual desire are just two separate human appetites.

And yes, I get that this is comedically overblown. But It doesn't change the fact that they're linking Arby's sandwiches with sexual attraction. That's not funny, it's just creepy.

Woman: Ta da!

Man: (Arby's sign pops up with cheesy "boing!" noise) Meeeeee likey!

Really? "Me likey?" That is wildly out of date and unoriginal. Why not just have him say "Tubular!"

Also, Arby's gets the award for Least Subtle Boner Reference in a Commercial. Congratulations, Arby's, you had some stiff competition (pun intended.)

Voiceover: It really is a special occasion with Arby's Chicken Cordon Bleu.

I guess if you have some kind of Arby's uniform fetish, then, sure. Otherwise, I think when 99% of people get the Arby's Chicken Cordon Bleu, the occasion is "Tuesday's lunch" or maybe "late night food run with roommate."

Voiceover: They'll have you saying, "I'm thinking Arby's."

Actually, I'm thinking, "hire a new ad agency."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Whopper Virgins: More Pain from Crispin Porter & BK

About a year ago, Burger King launched themselves into the reality TV landscape with a commercial that utilized a classic marketing "deprivation exercise." The central premise of the ad was, "Hey, what if we stopped selling the one thing people come here to buy?" and the result ended up being, "It turns out people don't like it when they can't buy the one thing they came here for!" Because of this daring commercial experiment, the entire theory of human psychology was thrown into chaos, textbooks were rewritten, and legions of top research professors resigned in disgrace. Almost. Actually what happened was the exact thing that anyone with a brain would have predicted: people get angry when they can't buy a Whopper at a Burger King.

Funny thing: BK, and their stalwart marketing partner Crispin Porter + Bo-fucking-Gusky, aren't quite finished exploring the realm of ill thought-out reality advertising:

What happens when you take remote Chiang Mai villagers...

Man, BK. You've gone pretty low before -- low humor, low class, low accountability -- but now you're forcing destitute people in developing countries (and Thailand is, right now, wildly unstable and dangerous) to do your advertising? What, are they there for your amusement? How much does a Thai villager get paid to eat a burger?

Who've never seen a burger, who don't even have a word for "burger"...

Gee, people who don't know what good burgers are? Sounds like an excellent audience to judge burgers.

"You've never had blood cake before? Okay, try this pig blood cake. Now try this yak blood cake. Which was less disgusting? Oh dude! Yak blood cake totally beats the shit out of pig blood cake!!"

And ask them to compare Whopper versus Big Mac in the world's purest taste test...

Define "purest." This is beginning to sound like BK wants to take up the white man's burden here.

The Whopper is America's favorite, but what will these people choose

"These people"!!

"Yeah, I know you don't know what they are. They're burgers. Burgers. Just eat them. Okay, now pick one. No, pick the other one. Great, thanks. Now get back to your hut, or wherever you people live."

The Whopper Virgins will decide.

And when you go to the site you will find out they they will air a "documentary" in a week or so and reveal what the disenfranchised, burger-less peoples of the third world decided regarding Whoppers and Big Macs. Now what do you suppose they chose? It would be pretty embarrassing if Burger King spent all this money to advertise this, and it turned out that the Virgins picked Big Mac!

In his most recent post, Windier posited some criteria regarding the "worst commercial ever made." Let's evaluate the "Whopper Virgins" spot here: (a) being incredibly unfunny? Check. (b) featuring things that no human would ever say? In a way, yes -- certainly eating a Whopper is not something a Thai villager would ever do. (c) being really creepy. Oh yes. (d) Racist. Big check mark. And then I might also add (e) saying absolutely nothing useful or differentiating about the product. When you're asking people who lack the experience and interest to effectively evaluate your product to compare it against a competitor's, you're essentially admitting that you just have nothing worthwhile to talk about. I mean, you don't see NetJets asking me if I prefer owning a share of a private jet or owning my own jet outright. You know why? Because I have no way of judging between those two. I am not in their target audience.

Once again I ask: When will Burger King and Crispin Porter stop? Hey, why not call BK's customer relations (1-305-378-3535) and let them know how you feel?