Thursday, December 31, 2009

She aches just like a woman, but she breaks just like a GPS

Guys, you can stop wondering. The mystery of what women want has been solved... by Jared.

That's right: women want diamonds. All women. In fact, even GPS devices, which lack a gender aside from the sex of the person who recorded their canned audio tracks, want diamonds, provided you've got the female voice setting on. I guess if this guy had the male voice switched on it would have demanded he go out for brewskis and presented directions to the nearest bar. Because in ad world, every member of a group is exactly the same, even when that member is not even a person and therefore not even actually a member of the group in question.

GPS: "Navigation system activated. Oh, look - he went to Jared."
Guy: "Ex... cuse me?"

That is also the reaction I would have if my GPS started talking in sentient fashion. Fair enough so far... I guess.

GPS: "What's in the bag, Dave?"

How did the GPS know his name? (I know, it's a reference to 2001, please don't tell me how I missed the joke in the comments.) Come to think of it, how does the GPS know what Jared is? How is the GPS capable of "seeing" objects in the car? Also, we can see in the next shot that the GPS's perspective is aimed at Dave's face. How did it even see the bag?

I know, I know - these are trifling questions, really. But I can't stand commercials that refuse to stand on even the smallest shred of believability. If I can't trust the agency to have thought of obvious things in the plot - such as why, for even one second, it would matter whether or not a reindeer had a "map" - why should I buy into what they're selling? Isn't the whole point of most television commercials to present a short story that in some way indicates why I would want a product?

Dave: "A diamond necklace?"
GPS: "May I see it?"

Women! Right? Even when it's not really a woman! It's a piece of machinery, but it has a woman's voice, and therefore it has the craven desire for expensive jewelry of which all women are possessed!

Dave: "Uh, can I just get directions, please?"

Okay, where is this guy going that he even needs the GPS? He's buying a diamond necklace at Jared, at - according to the GPS's screen - 12:23 pm. He's wearing a shirt and tie, which means it's probably a weekday and he came from work. So... he probably has to go back to work! Does he really need directions to retrace the exact path he already took to get to the Jared in the first place? Also, if he had to ask directions to get to the Jared, shouldn't the GPS already have known where he was going?

GPS: "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."
[doors lock]

Because GPS systems are wired directly into a car's power locks, too. Also, does the GPS realize it can be turned off via a button on the front? This isn't exactly Dave Bowman floating around in HAL's core here. On the bright side, if you're this dude, looks like you just found yourself a way to get your GPS to give it up.

Voiceover: "The Hearts Desire collection at Jared uses only ideal-cut diamonds, to best see the diamonds' true inner fire."

Um, what? This is some grade-A diamond-merchant bullshit, right here. "True inner fire?" I know, that's a technical diamond term... which the diamond people conjured up in an attempt to ascribe passion and emotion to a fucking piece of rock. I hate everything about this. It's light reflecting. Since when is that worth thousands of dollars? How about we just go outside and I'll spray the garden hose in the direction of a light source? It's real purty.

Also, Hearts Desire! Diamonds aren't just "a girl's best friend," they're her "heart's desire" - literally what she truly loves, wants and needs. She doesn't love you - she loves the expensive diamond jewelry your masculine earning power can provide! Even if "she" is a normally inanimate piece of machinery.

Dave: "Now can we go?"
GPS [with the necklace draped over it]: "Oh, Dave. You shouldn't have."

Later, the GPS gave Dave the best blow job he'd ever had. The end.

"You shouldn't have?" He didn't! That necklace isn't for you, GPS. (Good thing he bought a necklace, too, since most other common types of jewelry wouldn't fit on a GPS.) What am I supposed to come out of this ad thinking? That when I walk out of a Jared holding a bag I will instantly be mauled by every woman in the vicinity, each desperate to be the recipient of the shiny, shiny rocks I just purchased? Will empty cars, steered by female-voiced GPS systems, follow me through the parking lot? Because hey - if it looks or sounds female, it's a woman, and if it's a woman, it wants diamonds. And how do we know that? Because companies trying to sell diamonds keep telling us. Makes sense to me!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

For the love of Carl's J

Things Kim Kardashian is famous for:

(1) Having an abnormally large ass
(2) Having a sex tape
(3) Having an unwatchable reality show about her annoying family
(4) Dating NFL "star" Reggie Bush

If you can think of how one of those connects to salad, I'm all ears.

This is, of course, the same company that figured Paris Hilton washing a car was a good way to sell a hamburger, or that professional mannequin Audrina Patridge was a good spokesperson. I'm not necessarily surprised that their latest pitch involves a more or less attractive woman who really should not be famous at all. That's apparently their thing. But that doesn't make it any less annoying.

Kim Kardashian: "I'm such a neat freak. Everything's gotta be clean, crisp and tasty."

What? This copy makes no sense. Also, what kind of neat freak fucking eats a salad in bed and/or with their fingers? Fuck you, Carl's Jr. ad writers.

Also, when your pitchwoman is most famous for having a sex tape, do you really want to go here:

Oh, you do? Okay. Mmm, jizzed-on apples. Delicious.

(To go off-topic for just a minute, here's an underrated fact about the whole sex tape thing: neither Kim Kardashian nor her sex-tape paramour Ray J were particularly famous. Usually people notice/care about sex tapes when they star people who are already famous, like Pamela Anderson or Rob Lowe. But Kardashian and Ray J were not really famous. If anything, they both had small amounts of fame, but only for having connections to much more famous people; Kardashian was a socialite friend of Paris Hilton's - someone else whose fame springs heavily from a sex tape - and Ray J is the brother of singer Brandy. Then they made a sex tape and somehow both of them got TV shows out of it. The math on that is a little weird, right? But I digress.)

Kim: "And while the best things in life are messy..."

Uh... I don't even know what to say about this. Let's just move on.

Kim: "It's fun to get clean." [gets into bathtub]

This is basically nudity-free pornography at this point, isn't it? How can the FCC even justify letting Carl's Jr. run this on television? On the one hand, okay, there's certainly no nudity or bad language, and you could argue that any children who are young enough such that this ad is "inappropriate" for them simply won't see the innuendo in things like a drop of glistening translucent salad dressing falling within inches of Kim Kardashian's cleavage.

On the other hand, the dialogue makes no sense and is completely inconsistent. As a result, the ad can't claim to be doing anything other than trying to sell a salad by introducing sex into the mix. Why, here comes the tagline:

Announcer: "Who said salads can't be hot?"

Well, I can't say I would recommend eating a fully-dressed salad (a) in bed, (b) in the bathtub, or (c) with your fingers. So if that's what it takes to make a salad "hot," I guess I'm saying salads can't be hot.

Announcer: "The new Cranberry Apple Walnut Grilled Chicken Salad... one of three new premium salads at Carl's Jr."

Wait a minute. You would have to assume that an ad like this is built to appeal to men (specifically heterosexual men). And what they're selling is a cranberry apple walnut salad? Not to stereotype, but come on, that is approximately the least manly salad imaginable. This ad, which implicitly compares a woman eating an apple slice to oral sex, cannot possibly be aimed at women, even though they are the clear market for such a salad. The burger commercials at least made sense from this standpoint - the guys watching can (theoretically) drool over the hot chick in the bikini while also getting excited for the enormous burger she's eating.

But this is a salad. The kind of guy who is watching an ad like this and thinking about going to Carl's Jr. because he likes big butts and cannot lie is probably not the kind of guy who is going to Carl's Jr. for a salad. And even if he were, making your salad dressing visually recall semen is not the way to get him in the door.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Damn that Biz Markie, he's so hot right now

Leave it to the advertising machine to unearth another one.

At the risk of making some readers of this blog (and for that matter some authors of this blog) feel old, "Just a Friend" is now twenty years old. Granted, it was a #1 hit, but is one completely out of context line from the end of the song really a sufficient building block for a commercial in 2009?

RadioShack Ad Exec: Okay, we need a popular song for our ad, but we don't want to pay that much. Someone name some one-hit wonders from 15 or 20 years ago.
Underling 1: Deep Blue Something!
Underling 2: Deee-Lite!
Underling 3: Bobby McFerrin!
Underling 4: You're all idiots. The right answer is Biz Markie.
Underlings 1, 2, and 3: Ohhh, of course, you're right, etc.
Exec: Do I know the song you're talking about?
Underling 1: You know, the one that goes "You, you got what I need..."
Exec: Oh, right. So we could use that, and be like, "The Shack has got what you need this Christmas."
Underling 4: No way. We should use the "Oh, snap, guess what I saw" line. It sells cameras without even changing the words!
Exec: There's a line that goes like that?
Underling 4: Uh, yeah. It's only the best line in the song. Why, I heard a group of teenagers quoting it to each other on the street just the other day.
Exec: I guess I'll take your word for it. Run with it, people!


Underling 2: Did you really hear a group of teenagers quoting the "Oh, snap" line to each other?
Underling 4: Of course not. But that's my dad's favorite line in the song. Every time he hears it he gives me a piece of candy. So when this thing runs, cha-ching!
Underling 2: Aren't you too old to be doing things based on the fact that you would get candy?
Underling 4: Hey, there's Kit Kats in this vending machine today!

Note that the things Biz sees in the ad are breakdancing penguins (breakdancing, also extremely timely!) and a rabbit acting as a DJ, because I guess if you use a rap song in your commercial then everything related to it also has to be "urban."

The most unfortunate fact about the Radio Shack ad, albeit something which they probably could not have known about when they decided to run it, is that there's currently another ad using the exact same song, and in much better fashion:

What the Heineken ad lacks in Biz Markie's actual presence it more than makes up for by playing the part of the song that everyone actually knows, rather than some random part that happens to sound a little bit like he's using a camera. Sure, it's at least as much a 30-second ad for the song as it is an ad for anything else - and frankly I could stand Heineken being a little clearer on the fact that this is an ad promoting not driving after drinking - but it's significantly more fun than the stupid Radio Shack ad and well-intentioned to boot.

Friday, December 25, 2009

There's a bunch of crap for that

I cannot stand commercials that simply refuse to make a lick of goddamn sense.

This means nothing. This is nothing. Why do the reindeer need "maps"? The maps are supposed to show Verizon's 3G coverage in the United States. (Santa Claus, if real, is not located in the United States.) The reindeer somehow need 3G coverage? And it somehow matters that all eight (nine?) of them have Verizon's network? Good luck getting a reindeer to work a phone, by the way. Shouldn't Santa just have a phone? The reindeer are all pulling the same sleigh - even if their 3G coverage was in any way relevant, I'm pretty sure seven out of eight would be sufficient.

Hey, here's a thought. Maybe instead of completely wasting the first ten seconds of the commercial on nothing at all, you could have spent some of that time doing anything to explain why Blitzen's "map" is a problem, other than having the smarmy-ass reindeer next to him just go "Uh, your map?" No, you'll stick with that? Okay.

The jabs in this war between AT&T and Verizon are really getting increasingly ridiculous. See, for particular example, this AT&T ad:

"Hey, you see this thing that has no connection to reality whatsoever? AT&T totally does it faster than Verizon!" Most of the AT&T commercials in response to Verizon's "there's a map for that" ads have really been oddly evasive (presumably out of necessity). Verizon's talking about our coverage? Better talk about download speeds! But be sure to make it really opaque by not giving any real examples and instead discussing how long it would take to download a complete human being. What? Or how about this one:

Really, you have to love the way both of them are pretending that the other's network is a total piece of shit when, if we take all the claims in these ads at more or less face value, there are perfectly legitimate reasons for each to be preferred by certain people. If you live somewhere where both have coverage, maybe you'd prefer AT&T and its better download speeds. But if you live in one of the many, many places that apparently don't get AT&T, maybe you'd prefer Verizon. Over nothing.

Ultimately, though, I think Verizon comes out on top, mostly because AT&T's biggest initial response was a classic example of selective omission:

You notice what he's not saying in there, of course - 3G. Verizon's ads talk about how their 3G coverage is better, so AT&T responds by saying, "Verizon's talking about coverage. Well, here's who AT&T covers!" Not who AT&T covers with 3G... just people who can use AT&T wireless phone service at all. Yeah, that's not deceptive. You'll notice that they don't mention the 97% of Americans thing in any of their ads talking about 3G speed and such. Also, in this ad they only mention ten cities, most of which are very large. Wow, you have coverage in major US cities, AT&T? No way! (Not the first time AT&T has felt it necessary to brag about having coverage in large American cities as though that were uncommon, it should be noted.)

For being somewhat less deceptive and not using a Luke Wilson in full smug as their spokesman, I give this round to Verizon. On the other hand, if this ad means that we've finally gotten rid of that awful family and their one-note joke about wanting to use new minutes, AT&T wins by default.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The unfunny valley

You guys know the cartoon dude on the Airborne package, right? What? You don't? You barely even know what Airborne is? Oh, inexcusable, friends. That is a famous cartoon spokesman, right there. So famous that he has to be used in a commercial, even when it's completely awkward and weird-looking.

Yes, that classic character, "Mediocre illustration of some guy in a suit on a plane." If you can come up with a single reason why they couldn't just have had him transform into a real guy for this ad, I'd love to hear it. I'm almost positive that would have been cheaper and taken much less time, and it would not have looked horribly creepy to see a human baby being handed to a human man. Unlike here, where it's completely weird to see the baby awkwardly loaded into the arms of some guy in a green Lycra bodysuit our "hero." Is the baby so upset because it's half-human, half-cartoon and is teething with garish, animated teeth that will sing and dance across its gums?

I do enjoy, on some level, how delightfully desperate this ad is. It's almost like it's a response to dwindling business travel as a result of the recession. "Wait, Airborne isn't just to help boost your immune system while traveling on planes, where diseases can run rampant! You can use it at literally any time! For example, when life gets 'out of control' or 'catches up to you!'" Come on, Airborne. Those aren't even really two different things, to say nothing of the fact that the situations involved are textbook examples of "this is structured like something that's supposed to be funny, but you could not point to a single thing that is actually funny about it." My teenage daughter brought a questionable boyfriend home? Oh no, my immune system! Maybe if she had an actual human father she wouldn't feel such a need to rebel. Or maybe she's lashing out because he's clearly never home - at the end of the ad, his wife kisses him and says "Night, dear," and what does he do? He gets right back onto the airplane on the box! "Well, that's my 15 seconds at home for the year. See you in 2010, kids!"

Also, isn't the whole point of Airborne that it's an "on the go" type of thing? Look at that little tube it comes in! I'm supposed to use this even at my own house, where I surely have orange juice and vitamin supplements already if I'm that concerned about my immune system? This reminds me of those Cookie Crisp ads from the mid-90s that tried to sell a children's breakfast cereal (albeit an inappropriate one in the first place) as a snack to adults. If your product already has a very clear role in the marketplace, trying to ridiculously reposition it is rarely a good move. "No, really, you can use Airborne anywhere! Please use Airborne anywhere!" Not happening.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Imitation is the sincerest form of fattery

Say this much for Burger King - very few companies would make a commercial in which they come right out and say, "We're ripping off the product of our closest competitor."

Of course, you also have to consider that Burger King is apparently so stupid that they can't figure out how to make a Sausage McMuffin with Egg without stealing "blueprints" for it, even though all the ingredients are in the name.

I'll give the ad this: it gets the point across. "Hey, you like the McDonald's breakfast? We've got the exact same thing - seriously, it's pretty much identical - but we'll sell it to you for a dollar." McDonald's typically sells the same item for $2.49, a fairly significant difference.

Still, it strikes me as odd. Doesn't this pitch sort of smack of giving up? BK will always be the little brother to McDonald's, but this really just feels like "I'll show you! I'll start my own lemonade stand and I'll only charge ten cents a glass!" Has Burger King just decided they can't win on the merits of their food and is resorting to "we'll sell you McDonald's food for less than McDonald's will"? What's next, standing outside McDonald's restaurants with free sample trays?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Look who's gawking

It's vital that we teach important messages to the youth of today. So if you have a daughter who's entering her teens, you should definitely show her this ad and have a long, serious talk about breast self-esteem.

Right Breast: "Hey, did you see? Nobody's staring at us anymore."
Left Breast: "Aren't we still hot?"
Right Breast: "Kuh-learly!"

Remember, guys: women's breasts want to be stared at. You might even say they were asking for it. In fact, here's how to handle it when, say, you're at work.

Manager: "Do you think you could have this done by the end of the day? The client will be expecting it."
You [staring directly at her chest]: "Uh huh. Oh yeah. Not a problem."
Manager: "Um, I'm up here."
You: "Yeah, but your boobs are down here."
[uncomfortable silence]
You: "You're welcome..."

Right Breast: "You know what? It's all because of that stupid butt down there."
Left Breast: "Yeah! Stupid butt, gets all the attention now."

Yeah! When we used to walk past construction sites, it was all "Nice tits, honey! Woo woo!" And now it's "Nice ass, babe! Yeah, shake it!" I want to be objectified on my terms, goddammit!

Right Breast: "She's so tight now, so round, so pretty..."
Left Breast: "And so... stupid!"
Announcer: "Make your boobs jealous."

Really think they should have gone for the female announcer here. Might have made things a little less creepy. I mean, there are other commercials in this series that are a bit more reasonable (mostly because they don't feature talking breasts). Although compare this ad - while it doesn't have talking breasts, it still dwells on the idea that the only real reason to improve your physique is to get all the boys staring at your ass.

You might also notice what neither of these ads features - the woman's face. Or anything that would give her a personality and make her something besides a pair of breasts and a writhing, topless figure on a bed. I guess the original ad concept was too on the nose.

Right Breast: "Hey, did you notice no one is staring at us?"
Left Breast: "Aren't we still hot?"
Brain: "Uh, being objectified constantly really makes me uncomfortable, so-"
Right Breast: "Shut up, brain! Did anyone ask you?"
Left Breast: "Stupid brain thinks she's so smart."
Right Breast: "Yeah, stupid brain! Thinks just because she got into Harvard she's better than us!"
Brain: "I just think it's important to be more than some piece of mea-"
Left Breast: "I think the quarterback just walked by! Quick, flaunt us!"
Butt: "Hey, I just wanted to point out that it's been 20 seconds since someone last showed appreciation for my tightness by slapping me."
Brain: "Um, yeah, that's because that's terrib-"
Butt: "Uh, hello? Why did we even wear Reebok EasyTone if I'm not going to be constantly ogled and pinched?"
Right Breast: "Hey, is that a camera? Pull our shirt up!"

So, congratulations, Reebok EasyTone. Thanks to you, women can - hopefully! - increase the number of creepy leers and unwanted advances they get, more easily than ever. What an age we live in.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lord of the NuvaRings

You know what's never a stilted, completely implausible idea for a commercial? Having people sit around and discuss your product like the subject fascinates them. Take it away, NuvaRing:

Yeah, that happened ever.

Woman 1: "Ooh, I love this commercial!" [sings along with jingle from previous NuvaRing commercial]

Getting off to a great start with flagrant editorializing of their own ads. Obviously that's complete bullshit, but let's just give it to them for now... I'm more amused by the fact that the woman "love[s] this commercial" yet doesn't seem to have much idea what NuvaRing is and is singing along perkily even though the idea behind the song is that taking a birth control pill every day - the reason they're singing every day out loud - is something you don't want to be doing.

Woman 2: "Would you guys try NuvaRing?"
Woman 3: "I'm not even sure what it is!"

Ha ha! Good thing this is a NuvaRing commercial. Get ready for a face full of information.

Woman 2: "It is a monthly vaginal birth control ring that delivers a low dose of hormones."

I love the way she delivers this line, because it sounds like she's stumbling through remembering something the NuvaRing people coached her to say at the NuvaRing party she's secretly throwing for her friends. Oddly, no one blinked when she popped in the DVD and a NuvaRing ad came on instead of Bride Wars.

Woman 1: "Don't you have to... put it in..."

Yeah, hence the word "vaginal." See, she loves the song, but was paying no attention to the product itself; this probably serves as a dramatization of the reason for this new commercial's existence. Except that no one in the world loves that song for real.

Woman 2: "For me it's easy. You put NuvaRing in for three weeks, you take it out, and then you put a new one in seven days later."

I'm not a woman, but I don't know about this. Is sticking a piece of plastic into your vagina - where it will reside almost constantly - really easier than taking a tiny pill every day? Is there that much difference between the ring-less week and the pill's placebo period? Maybe the rest of the ad will explain things. (Spoiler: it won't.)

Woman 3: "I can handle that."

Good thing it's not any harder, for I am a woman and incapable of complex mechanical tasks!

Woman 2: "Small, and comfortable - plus you don't have to take it every day."

Yes you do! It is in your vagina every day. (Okay, except the week when it's not. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.) You are always taking it. But hey, at least you don't have to go through the strenuous exertion of peristalsis!

Woman 3: "But I'm already on the pi-"
Woman 2 [sarcastically]: "The pill!"
Woman 3: "I know, right?"
Woman 2: "So was I, until I talked to my doctor about switching."

I don't know how many female readers we have, but I'd really like to know how many find the pill to be/have been an unbearable hassle. Short of not taking birth control at all, you're still being dosed with hormones, yes? Is there an annoyance about having to remember to take the pill, and having problems if you miss? There must be some reason why having a goddamn piece of plastic resident in your genitals is being pitched as a vastly superior alternative. If you told men they could stop wearing condoms but they'd have to get an aglet shoved into their urethra once a month, I wonder how many would actually go for it.

Woman 2: "NuvaRing is just as effective."

Was that anyone's concern here?

Woman 3: "Really."
Woman 1: "Here are the risks."

Hey, did you forget you were watching a commercial? You probably did, because the dialogue is so conversational... natural... magical. So let's zoom into the TV and discuss your risk of stroke and heart attack. Once that's out of the way, it's back to our three fabulous friends.

Woman 3: "So you'd recommend it?"
Woman 2: "I would."

Hey, that's great, paid NuvaRing spokeswoman.

Woman 3: "Maybe it's time I asked my doctor about it."
Woman 2: "You should!"

Is it me or is Woman 2 really smug throughout this whole commercial? "Hey, glad you came to that brilliant decision after I spent the past 30 minutes explaining how the pill was designed by Nazi scientists. Let's all head down to the NuvaRing store!" (This being a commercial, I'm sure there's a special store that sells nothing but NuvaRings. Just be sure you have a prescription or the bouncer will throw your ass out.)

Also, Woman 1 really gets the short end of the stick in this ad. First she's made to look like a doofus who sings along with lame television commercials, then she's a horrible prude who can't even get out the word "vagina" in front of her two friends, then she's stuck with the thankless task of introducing the blood clot warnings. And then at the end she just nods and plays no role in the actual story! Plus for some reason they stuck her in the worst chair in the apartment. "No, that's cool, you guys watch TV, I'll just listen to it and watch your reactions. I'm thinking about going back for my master's in sociology, so..." She probably gets totally pushed to the back when they're out at the bar, too. With friends like those, who needs NuvaRing?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Baubles, Bangles and Bad Ads

The following is a bus stop ad that I've been seeing a lot lately around Chicago. It's for the Field Museum, which is a stellar natural history museum in downtown Chicago. Now I don't particularly enjoy posting about ads for non-profit institutions -- something I mentioned in the comments section of my admittedly unfair attack on a cutely overreaching ad for Detroit-area museum attraction The Henry Ford. That doesn't mean that museums and colleges and foundations and the like don't screw up, though. Let's take a look (I apologize for the quality, it's taken with my phone):

When I first saw this ad, I actually liked it. The image of a colorful collection of shiny gems is a fun one -- makes me want to learn more. But it's rather disrupted by the huge gray combination lock in the middle of the image. I have several problems with this:

1. The lock is either floating in the middle of the image -- like, just randomly hovering above the gems -- or the lock may be on a glass-fronted safe. This makes a little more sense visually, but then presumably that's how the Field Museum locks up their gems at night. "Just toss all the jewels into that safe. Really cram 'em in there. They're not breakable or valuable or anything."

2. This ad suggests the Field Museum protects their jewels with a Master Lock combination padlock. "Don't even think about trying to steal our precious gems, jewel thieves -- you'll never guess our wickedly complex three-number combination!"

3. Somehow, a gun-metal gray, numbered dial doesn't mesh well with a sparkling, rainbow opal. Why not just show a picture of variety of fantastic gems without muddying it by cutting and pasting a cropped image of a lock. It's uninviting -- the opposite of what you want if you're a museum. Unless you don't want people coming to your museum.

These are minor points, but remember this ad is eight feet tall! You have people staring at this for minutes on end while they wait for their bus -- you want these ads to be good. I realize non-profits like museums probably don't have huge marketing departments, but why greenlight something that's obviously goofy? Just show some of the highlights of your gem room and let us know when the thing is opening. No need to art direct a clumsy ad just for the sake of being unique, or clever, or something.

Despite all this, I highly encourage everyone to go visit the Field Museum if you find yourself in Chicago -- the gem room is incredible. Just ignore the ads.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I hope they serve Bud Light Golden Wheat in hell

I don't know where exactly to put the blame for this, because it's an epidemic that's really been going around over the last couple years. White Castle compared eating its barbecue pork slider to attending a burlesque show in which a human in pig costume is drenched in barbecue sauce à la Flashdance. Burger King suggested that Whopper Juniors are produced when a hamburger has sex with a human woman. Even the typically sedate Reese's opted for an ad implying that its peanut butter eggs were the result of amorous behavior between a chocolate bunny and a jar of PB. Leave it to Bud Light not just to continue this trend but to somehow up the ante.

You might have seen this ad during the recent Saturday Night Live episode in which Bud Light bought almost all of the ad space to pimp its new Golden Wheat variety. And then, if you died of a heart attack later that night and went to hell, you probably saw it on the big screen down there, played at a volume loud enough to drown out the wails of the damned.

Stodgy Boss Type: "Bud Light and Golden Wheat? I thought that was never gonna happen."
Woman 1: "Of course it was going to happen."
Woman 2: "She practically threw herself at him."

Before I go any further, let me just clear this up: yes, I get the joke. Bud Light and Golden Wheat! It's like they're people! Hilarious! The problem is that the joke is (a) terrible and (b) ultimately rather disgusting.

Dude-Bro 1: "Ask her out, I told him. You're America's favorite beer."
Some Other Guy: "You could see he wanted her... we all wanted her."

I'm sorry, you all wanted... to have sex with a vaguely anthropomorphic sheaf of wheat? I guess the problem there is it would merely have resulted in Golden Wheat Urine, which as a beverage ranks at least one notch below Bud Light.

Dude-Bro 1: "Bud Light sealed the deal."
[Scene of Bud Light and Golden Wheat getting it on in the elevator]

Because, I mean, that's what I want to think happened. Do I want to be told about the taste of the beer? Of course not! What I want to know is, if this beer's existence could have been the result of sexual activity, what two things would have fucked to produce it? The answer, of course: golden wheat, and regular Bud Light. (I would also have accepted Budweiser and light golden wheat. As if that would ever happen.)

Security Guard: "Oh... that's nice."

No. It is not.

Announcer: "Introducing Bud Light Golden Wheat. Light beer, huge-"

Huge penis? Huge erection? Huge double-D-cup wheat boobs?

Announcer: "-flavor."


Announcer: "They hooked up, and you're gonna fall in love."

I'm going to "fall in love" with my toilet bowl, at any rate. Lord. It isn't funny, and it isn't appetizing. If you insist on using sex to sell things, can't it be regular human sex? Why is the food always doing the procreating?

I know what you're thinking. "There's no way it gets worse than that." But you're wrong!

Oh yeah.

Woman 1: "At first we were against it."

Mostly because the idea of beer having sex with a cereal crop was just head-spinning.

Woman 2: "He's so not your type."
Woman 1: "He goes out, like, every night!"
[Shot of a human woman grinding against Bud Light in a club]

Is this a metaphor? I don't even know anymore. I guess we've already opened up the possibility of humans having sex with either of these anthropomorphic monstrosities in the other ad.

Woman 3 (2 again?): "You know, eventually he took to what she liked, learned about her..."
Woman 1: "He really made an effort."

Thank God! I was worried this beer I was drinking was the result of a sweaty, lust-fueled elevator hookup. But maybe it had more to do with monogamous relationship sex. America!

Woman 1: "But there really is a fine line between romance and stalking."

That's right, ladies. If you're not interested in a guy, you don't need to put up with him serenading you from outside your window. That's called stalking.

Woman 3 and/or 2: "Yeah, but he walked it like a pro."

Just kidding! If a man climbs to your window on a ladder, it just means he wants you so much that it's your feminine duty to submit to his advances! Good thing we have beer commercials to teach us important lessons like this.

For good measure, we get another wheat/beer sex scene, or whatever that's supposed to be. It's not like Bud Light's non-sex ads for Golden Wheat tell you all that much about the beer - the thesis of this one boils down to "Wheat: probably tasty" - and I guess Bud Light sells itself for the most part, but man. The whole campaign just strikes me as a ploy aimed squarely at the post-frat audience - hey, you like beer, right? Do you also like sex and jokes about sex? Well, we've got a new beer flavor and we're advertising it with sex and/or sex jokes! And just in case anyone was unclear on the target, here's a joke about how stalking can be easily construed as romance, right out of the Tucker Max handbook.

The irony of all this is that wheat beer strikes me as more of a specialty thing, not exactly the drink of choice for guys heading off to the bar to pound six Bud Lights. (Also, it's somewhat hilarious that Bud Light is going with the tagline "Huge flavor!" when wheat beer is known to be light on account of the fact that "wheat contributes very little flavor to a beer." Good call there!) Wheat beer is not the drink of choice for the typical Bud Light crowd, and somehow I doubt that even they have the power to make it so. On the other hand, that beer totally fucked that wheat. Get two, bro! This oughta be good.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I dunno, my BFF Kmart?

If there's one thing we love here at The Ad Wizards, it's when commercials attempt to make up new words that they hope will turn into the argot of the 21st century. Like when Comcast tried to push shit like "phoruption" on us. Or Wendy's and "meatatarian." Did I say love? Sorry, I meant "hate with the fire of a thousand suns." Fortunately, Kmart would never stoop to that level.

Alternately, they would make one of the most painful ads in history, using this mediocre gimmick. Hey, Kmart - you know you're Kmart, right? Do you really think you're going to convince us that you're the cool place where all the hip kids shop?

Teacher: "Your word is 'rockstare.'"

First of all, what is the context here? "Your word is" implies some sort of spelling bee, but we're in a normal classroom, and I'm pretty sure in a spelling bee the other contestants aren't allowed to shout definitions. Also this is retarded.

Boy: "Definition, please?"
Girl 1: "It's that look you get when you dress like a rock star!"

Notice how the bass-heavy music starts playing at this point. Young people, am I right?

Girl 2: "These jeans? Were made for rockstaring."

Stop. We all know this is not a thing. Stop trying to make it happen. Second of all, what are these kids, 12 years old? Do you think there's a chance we could not go to the "showing-off-my-ass" shot? Also, I know we're in an economic downturn and what have you, but $12 jeans are not considered cool by anyone except your mom.

Girl 3: "You put the rock in rockstare." [pops sweatshirt embarrassingly]

And this commercial puts the fake in "That is some seriously fake shit that would never happen anywhere, ever."

Announcer: "Don't just shop back to school, rock back to school, at Kmart!"

And another 12-year-old ass shot, just for good measure. I guess it's hard to display jeans without showing someone's bottom half, but when you move on to this:

Girl 4: "I could rockstare at those jeans all day!"

That's just going nowhere good.

[Girl 4 looks over at a boy in a hoodie.]
Boy 2: "Are you rockstaring at me?"
[Class laughs good-naturedly]

Oh, the world of commercials. Here's how that plays out in real life:

[Girl looks over at boy.]
Boy: Are you rockstaring at me?
Girl: [disgusted] What?
Boy: You know, um, rockstaring? Like, staring at someone because they look like a rock star...
Other Boy: What, did you just make that up?
Boy: No, it's... it was in a commercial...
Girl: You mean that Kmart commercial?
[Entire class laughs derisively; boy bursts into tears]
Girl: Anyway, I was just wondering how long it had been since you took a shower.

Blue Light Bulb: "There's smart... and there's Kmart smart."

"There's annoying... and there's stab myself in the face with a rusty ice pick annoying."

It would be one thing if I thought this ad had any basis in reality, but you know it was just dreamed up by some 35-year-old creative writer who fell asleep with "High School Musical" on the night before.

Of course, this wouldn't be advertising if they only used a horrible idea once.

Teacher: "Your word is 'blingitude.'"
Presumably a Boy: "Definition, please?"

Nice hair, jackass.

Girl 1: "Blingitude is a girl's BFF, AEAE."

Maybe I'm getting old, but I actually had to Google this because I had no idea what the fuck "AEAE" was supposed to be. Apparently it's short for "and ever and ever," which is so utterly useless an addition that it just makes me angry. I wouldn't even mention it except that I found the answer at Yahoo! Answers, and check out the question being asked. Brand recognition FTW!

Girl 2: "My jeans practically invented blingitude."

Has "bling" really already morphed into just meaning "thing that is kind of good"? This is nonsensical.

Girl 3: "When it comes to blingitude, sometimes less is... way more!"

"See, kids, it's totally cool if your outfit only cost ten bucks!" This ad paid for by Moms Incorporated.

Girl 4: "And sometimes, more is more!"

Peace sign with wings: super cool. Super blingy. I remember that episode of MTV's Cribs when they went over to Jay-Z's mansion and he came out wearing a t-shirt with a winged peace sign and was all, "Check this bling out, holla!" (Note: May not have happened.)

More gratuitous middle school ass (this ad now paid for by People Who Have Appeared on To Catch a Predator Incorporated) leads us into the final "joke":

Nerd-Type: "Do I have blingitude?"
[Long pause]
All [in that "We're only saying this to be nice" way]: "...Yeah!"
[Nerd-type seems relieved]

Good thing Kmart is around to break down the social barriers of grade school! By making sure that everyone understands that fat kid + glasses = total dork, whereas the rest of the students, with their trendy bargain outfits and 80-pound, model-thin frames, are the arbiters of cool. Seek that approval, nerds! It's as easy as shopping at Kmart. I suggest bragging constantly that that's where you got your back-to-school outfit; you're sure to be a hit!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Go home, Klondike, you're embarrassing yourself.

Remember Klondike's iconic jingle? "What would you doooo for a Klondike bar?"

The commercials were silly, but I get the message: Klondike bars are delicious. There's no need to sell this product any harder- chocolate and vanilla ice cream? That's a combination that never fails, unlike the combination of Klondike Bars and desperation. This includes a round-the-clock broadcast of Michael Ian Black harassing potential Klondike Bar customers who are walking, talking examples of "don't be this guy."

Do you want this guy to be your "bro"?

Klondike's grand plan to rebrand itself also includes a repulsive old-school type video game entitled "The Adventures of Khaki Pants Pete" on their "ironic" website. Jezebel rescues you from having to play the actual game by showing you screencaps here. As the embodiment of a Klondike Bar aficionado, Pete avoids his wife, shirks childcare responsibilities, hits on the babysitter, heads to a porn shop, dreams of his glory days as the frattiest gadabout in town, and then hits a bachelor party that involves interactive pudding wrestling. Oh, I'm sorry, "pudding freakin' wrestling."

Klondike, you are not beer. You're not an extreme sports drink. You're not hot wings. You're not beef jerky, jello shooters, corn chips, or Axe Body Spray. What you are is a nostalgic, cold, delicious treat for all kinds of people- men and women, children and grandparents. Why in the hell are you trying so hard to cut yourself off from a universal demographic?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm not a chicken, you're a turkey

Hey, dummy. Are you too stupid to understand the concept of a computer virus? Well, what if Norton did a dopey, drawn-out commercial that used a nonsensical analogy? Would that help?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Announcer: "Imagine this chicken is your hard drive, and the 80s metal band Dokken is a computer virus."

Was this commercial written by the same manatees who produce the jokes for Family Guy? Dokken? Has anyone even thought about them in the last 20 years? Let's just say I'm not surprised they were available.

Announcer: "Dokken does not like chicken, and wants to destroy it. The chicken, not knowing Dokken's intentions, doesn't really have any feelings either way."

I love that the analogy already runs off the rails here, since computer viruses are ultimately just bits of executable code, and are not capable of liking or disliking things. Also, I would suggest that the worst computer viruses are the ones that look to mine your hard drive for personal data, rather than ones that simply seek to maliciously destroy your data for sport. But whatever makes the most sense. Oh, right - nothing in this ad makes sense.

Announcer: "Now you have a choice. Would you like to allow Dokken to have its way with your chicken, unleashing a wrath the likes of which the chicken has never seen? Or would you like to deny it?"

Uh, Norton doesn't actually have a "Nah, let that virus run rampant" option in its software, right?

[The chicken pulls a knife on Dokken.]
Don Dokken: "Whoa. Take it easy, bro!"

A perfect allegory for the workings of antivirus software. Well, if they'd used Glass Tiger instead it would have been perfect. But this is pretty close.

Don Dokken: "This ain't over."
Announcer: "Protect your chicken from Dokken."

Alternate slogans for this ad campaign:

"Protect your inner tube from Welshmen"

"Protect your self-esteem from pandas"

"Protect your wet-dry vacuum from Annette Funicello"

"Protect your sourdough roll from Halley's Comet"

"Protect your gravy boat from ? and the Mysterians"

"Protect your mason jar from the Caspian Sea"

Sadly, all of these were deemed far too comprehensible to work.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Articles killed the radio star

Please tell me this is actually an official renaming, and not a painful attempt at "hip" rebranding.

First of all, way to break the bank on that ad. Second of all, no one calls you that (I guess Radio Shack doesn't have friends?). Third of all... no. Just no. There are companies that can pull this off - such as McDonald's drilling down to "Mickey D's" (although that always made me want to stab myself in the ear) - but Radio Shack? You are not one of those companies.

Now, if this is actually part of a move to completely rename the company "The Shack," because your name has gotten kind of obsolete in the modern era... well, it's still kind of stupid. But at least it's much less stupid. So I hope, for your sake, that that's the story here.

EDIT: Looks like it is. However, I refuse to withdraw my gripe entirely, seeing as how the print ad on that Gizmodo page is the worst kind of "please whore yourself out for our benefit" faux-viral nonsense that companies routinely spin these days. Anyone who actually follows those instructions deserves to be slapped in the face.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Apparently KGB wasn't getting enough business from offering to retrieve the most easily obtained information in the universe for you. How about you text them asking for a random opinion and they just pull something out of their ass?

Man 1: "Look at that joker."
Man 2: "That is so dumb."
Man 1: "Is there any mascot stupider than an aardvark?"
Man 2: "I don't know. Let's KGB it."

Okay, a few things. First of all, stop trying to make "Let's KGB it!" happen. You are not Google. Second of all, isn't KGB pitching itself as some sort of repository of knowledge? I guess "knowing a lot of mascots and picking out a relatively silly one" is knowledge of a sort, but this isn't exactly answering trivia questions, is it?

KGB Woman: "Is there any mascot more stupid than an aardvark?"
KGB Man: "Well, there's the boll weevil from the University of Arkansas at Monticello..."
KGB Woman: "Boll weevil!"

I guess that's stupid. I don't know. What about the banana slug of UC Santa Cruz, or the geoduck of Evergreen State? A much funnier Arkansas-Monticello factoid, for my money, is the fact that the men's teams are the Boll Weevils and the women's teams are the Cotton Blossoms.

Boll weevil: "I'll show you [bleep]ing stupid!" [tackles the aardvark and begins punching him in the junk]

My only guess: the person who wrote this ad went to Arkansas-Monticello.

Man, that was dumb. Is there any ad stupider than that KGB ad?

Answer: yes. This KGB ad:

Woman: "Hello!"
Guy: "How can I tell my girlfriend's bra size?"

Maybe it's me, but if you're comfortable enough to buy lingerie or undergarments for your girlfriend, shouldn't you know her bra size? And, nice gratuitous cleavage shot. Good to know that even shitty text-message informational services are not above selling their product using sex.

Woman [as if speaking her first words since emerging from a coma]: "Maybe, you should ask, someone."
Guy: "Ah! Good idea!"

You could, say, ask your girlfriend. Too obvious?

KGB Man: "I got this one. You take your hands..."
KGB Woman: "Actually, the best way is to compare them to a piece of fruit. Are they apples, oranges, or grapefruits?"

Yeah, whatever. It just needs to be close, right? Am I right, ladies? (Oh, I guess I'm not.) Granted, this guy isn't buying an actual bra, but then why go that way at all? Other than as a cheap excuse to talk about breasts, show close-ups of breasts, and generally try to make the male audience drool over an otherwise boring ad.

Guy: "They are melons."
Woman: "I have those."

Haw. Melons. Am I right, guys?

KGB Man: "How do you like them apples?"
KGB Woman: "Those are grapefruits."
KGB Man: [leers lasciviously]

"Well, whatever they are, you'll be touching them later in my head!" I'm glad KGB is such a relaxed workplace that they can keep a breast reference model around for the 0.05% of questions that involve breast size and general gawking the other 99.95% of the time. Very progressive.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Catherine, Catherine, Catherine, can't you see? Sometimes your words just hypnotize me

I guess this is one way to sell a product.

I'd like her to cover my need at the price I want! Hi-yo!

Seriously, that's actually an ad. "Here's the pitch: Catherine Zeta-Jones is going to kind of explain that T-Mobile can save you money, but mostly the commercial will be about how this nerdy kid wants to fuck her." Pure gold, I tells ya! Wait, though: it gets worse. Much worse.

"Okay, Tim, you're playing the husband. Can you play this as skeevy as possible? You can? Awesome."

CZJ: "So, let's go online and give you a mobile makeover!"
Wife: "Great."
Husband: "I like it when you say things."

First of all, do people really need Catherine Zeta-Jones to come to their house and help them use the computer? Whatever. I'm guessing it wasn't that hard to drag her back onto the set of another commercial when the premise was "Every man in the world thinks Catherine Zeta-Jones is the hottest thing ever, to the point of being horrible in front of their wives."

CZJ: "Right... so, looks like you'll get great coverage and save money with T-Mobile."

Not at all vague information about the product! Back to the creepy dude.

Husband: "And my wife'll like that."
Wife: "I'm right here."
Husband [not looking at her, still staring at CZJ]: "That's my wife Jen. We're married. Technically."

You're not going to be married much longer, pal.

You know what this kind of reminds me of? The Rachael Ray Dunkin' Donuts ad that was clearly at least as much an ad for Rachael Ray as it was Dunkin' Donuts. Here are the messages I took from these T-Mobile ads, in order of perceived importance:

1. Catherine Zeta-Jones is so, so hot.
2. Catherine Zeta-Jones' hotness turns boys into men and brings men to their knees.
3. When Catherine Zeta-Jones is in the room, your wife all but ceases to exist.
4. Catherine Zeta-Jones' breasts could bring about world peace.
5. T-Mobile can maybe save you money, somehow.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Summer of Condiments

Oh dear.

[Twentysomethings hang out at a party while the announcer talks. Edgy, animated text matches his words on the screen.]
Announcer: "Don't go unnoticed. Don't blend in. Don't be ordinary, boring or bland. In other words..."

Now, if I just showed you the first nineteen seconds of that ad, what would you think it was for? Some sort of hip clothing company? The latest premium malt beverage? Granted, it's kind of a lame ad regardless, but it's when we get to the product that things go completely to hell.

Announcer: "...don't be so mayo."

Honestly, the first time I saw this ad I still didn't figure it out, even after this line. Mostly because I never expected to see an ad for a condiment that looked like an ad for Smirnoff Ice.

Announcer: "We are our own unique one of a kind flavor. We are Miracle Whip, and we will not tone it down."

That's the entire ad. You will not "tone it down"? Someone wanted Miracle Whip to "tone it down"? If the tone on Miracle Whip were any lower it would be sub-zero. I understand the pitch - "Miracle Whip! We're not mayonnaise! We taste different, you guys!" - but this was the best angle they had? The official mediocre condiment of rebellious youth?

You know what this ad is like? Imagine you're a teenager and your dad shows up at a party of yours, dressed in contemporary clothes he can't possibly pull off, and saying things like "I was hoping I could chill with you dawgs for a while," putting all the emphasis on the "cool" words that clearly even he knows he really shouldn't be saying. Now, if that happened, you'd be embarrassed both by and for him, right? Well, that's how I feel after seeing this ad.

You're not cool, Miracle Whip. You're not cool and you never will be. You just make me sad.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Could I be any worse of an ad?

I'll take "attacking things your competitors don't do" for $200, Alex.

Wife: "Hey, did you ever find tickets to Hawaii?"
Husband: "Hawaii Five-O! Book 'em, Dano! Aloha! Mele Kalikimaka! Surf lingo! Brah, I was stoked when I caught that tasty barrel!"

I mean, fine, I guess this is supposed to be hyperbole. But it's hyperbole so extreme that it just means nothing. Go to Google and type in "tickets to Hawaii," not that anyone would ever type in so vague a term when they specifically were looking for airline tickets. The first two results are Cheap Tickets and Orbitz, both of which will sell you plane tickets to Hawaii. In case you meant something else, you're also presented on the first page with other links where they sell tickets for University of Hawaii sporting events. Type in "plane tickets to Hawaii" and you get a bunch of sites that sell you plane tickets to Hawaii. I don't know how far you'd have to go in the results for "tickets to Hawaii" to find "Book 'em, Dano," but I'm guessing it's pretty far. Even if you're the kind of idiot who just types in "Hawaii," three of the first four results are tourism-related.

Wife: "Seriously, did you price out tickets?"
Husband: "How to beat a traffic ticket! Ten proven methods traffic courts don't want you to know!"
Wife: "What are you talking about?"
Husband: "Talk turkey!"
Wife: "What?"
Husband: "Talk live with hot singles in your area! They're waiting."
Wife: "Who's waiting?"
Slogan on screen: "What has search overload done to us?"

Uh... nothing? Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with this commercial? Just for the hell of it, I also typed "tickets to Hawaii" into Yahoo and and got similar results to Google - Yahoo even had all of their top results relating to flights. Then I typed it into's engine, and got basically the same results (although fewer of theirs seemed to deal with flights, which is vaguely hilarious).

I realize that not everyone in the world is an internet expert; I'm old enough to remember a time without the internet, but young enough that it's been a major part of most of my life (and certainly my entire adult life). But COME ON. If you know enough to access the internet, I fail to see what is doing for you that every other search engine can't. It's like they're trying to trick old people into thinking that this is how Google works. "Hey, boomers! Use! Did you know that Google will vomit a stream of tangentially related non-sequiturs like a mental patient if you search using it? It's true! Uh, don't bother trying to verify that, it's just going to lull you into a false sense of security with a successful initial search..." Their use of the term "decision engine" only plays this up all the more. "Are you too old and computer illiterate to browse through a page of search results? We'll decide for you!" Never mind that I've used Bing a couple times now and fail to see where it's "deciding" any more than Google when it gives you... a page of search results. At least Google has the "I'm feeling lucky" button.

This ad is the rough equivalent of Burger King making an ad in which they claim that if you go into a McDonald's and order a hamburger, you'll get a bag of diseased muskrats. (Not that I'd put that past Crispin Porter + Bogusky.) It's also exactly as effective. Anyone who knows anything about the internet knows you're full of shit, Microsoft, and this commercial is enough to send me lunging for the remote every time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

You call it: Toyota Prius "Harmony" commercial.

I totally get what Toyota is trying to do with this commercial, and as far as getting the content, imagery and music to be in sync with their product image and philosophy, they knocked it out of the park. Given that my beef is frequently with one or more of these things not hanging together, what could there be to complain about?

Well, that I find this commercial inexplicably creepy. All the undulating and people popping out of nowhere and the idea of the sun being a big ball of folks tied together at the ankle for all eternity... for me, it's just unsettling. There is a second commercial, involving people climbing upwards to create trees, that doesn't bother me as much (potentially because they're clearly people and not unexplained Soylent Scenery™). It doesn't appear to bother either Windier or Quivering anywhere near as much. So let's hear from the readers. What do you say for this one- yea or nay?

Monday, May 18, 2009


White Castle, you have got to be kidding me.

This is just gross. Is White Castle just trying to think of as many different ways as they can to make me not want anything to do with their food? (To be fair, it's White Castle; they don't need to try all that hard.)

First problem: equating your primary ingredient with an exotic dancer. Worse yet, an exotic dancer in a furry costume. Does White Castle know that there is a group of people out there who find women in pig costumes erotic? Maybe that's just the demographic this ad is trying to cater to. "If you like fucking a chick dressed like a pig, you'll love eating our pulled pork sandwich." Natural leap from one to the other, right? Also weird: the mobile, sentient bag, presumably scouting the strip club for "fresh meat."

That might not even have been so bad if not for the way White Castle pours on the comparisons to sex. Maybe I could have dismissed it as a goofy attempt at humor, but no: here comes the seductive voiceover. I like barbecue sauce, but I can't think of anything that makes me less interested in it than describing it as "come-hither" and "oh so naughty." Hey. White Castle. You make food. You do not make lingerie, marital aids or ED medication. You aren't a chain of shady massage parlors, you aren't a gentleman's club, you aren't even a Westin. You sell food. And when I think of food, I don't want to be thinking about how that food wants me to fuck it.

Even if this ad weren't gross, it's a ridiculous overstatement. Barbecue sauce is naughty? Oh shit, barbecue sauce! Man, this is fucking sinful! I can't believe I'm putting barbecue sauce on something! Especially not on pulled pork, which is only served with barbecue sauce by everyone in existence who serves pulled pork, because that's how pulled pork comes in this country! Go to the head of the class, White Castle, because you are some fucking trendsetters.

Right here is where I'd normally do some bit about "what would happen if other food products advertised like this," but just click the "disgusting sexualization of food" tag at the bottom of this post. There's no more need for satire; there are already ads out there far worse than anything I could come up with. And it's not just food, it's ads in general. I understand that sex sells, but aren't there limits? I'll buy using sex in an ad for Viagra, or even for something like a car. But a woman (I assume) in a pig costume getting drenched in barbecue sauce on a club stage is going to make me hungry for the dead, cooked, actual-pig equivalent? How about a guy dressed as a cow getting hit from above with an enormous square of American cheese? A woman dressed as a chicken getting splashed with egg and pelted with bread crumbs? You're telling me your stomach isn't rumbling right now?

You know what this is? It's the food equivalent of Isabella Rossellini's "Green Porno" series. I have never seen a clip of that show and thought, "Man, I feel like having some sex now." And I don't see this White Castle ad and get hungry. It makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and throw out all the barbecue sauce in my refrigerator before it gets any ideas.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What if we just grossed everybody out?

You know, it's funny. I went to YouTube to find a new Arby's Roastburger commercial that I thought used some particularly clumsy sex appeal. Instead, I found an Arby's Roastburger commercial that uses some particularly repulsive food appeal. Observe:

The commercial starts off strong -- it's a simple, to-the-point explanation of the new (liberally-named) Arby's "burger" versus the competition's fried burger. That's called "product differentiation," and it's a good way to use your marketing dollars, especially in a competition-clustered industry like QSR. But then at the 15 second mark, Arby's goes awry -- by showing this:

I don't care how good that Roastburger looks in the last couple seconds of the ad, all anybody is going to remember from this commercial is the weird teen noisily slathering the grease from a piece of food into his hair. It's like somebody at Arby's just doesn't understand that showing disgusting shit in your commercial isn't a great way to sell food.

Also, who thinks that Roastburger is really grease-free? Arby's is just a giant grease trap, really -- just walk into one sometime, your clothes won't smell the same the rest of the day. Their potato cakes? Curly fries? Mozzarella sticks? You know, if Arby's employees need to grease themselves up, they don't have to wait until their manager brings in a burger from McDonald's -- they've got plenty of oily crap sitting around.

So, roast beef, bacon, melted cheese, Arby's service staff with a hamburger freshly-rubbed into their coifs... I'm thinking maybe I'm not so hungry after all!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We probably need to discuss this

I assume by now you've already seen this one. Let's talk about it.

Before I'm accused of hating fun again, I should note that this commercial is somewhat funny. The first time or two, anyway; after that it just gets kind of tiresome. But, uh, this is an ad for a kid's meal, right? Someone get Clyde Clemens on the line.

To be fair, most of the song is relatively innocuous considering the source material. And then there's this:

Sir Mix-a-Lot: "Now, Spongebob! I wanna get witcha, 'cause you're makin' me richa!"

The original "Baby Got Back" features Sir Mix-a-Lot rapping about how much an appealingly large ass makes him want to fuck a woman. When he says "Oh, baby, I wanna get witcha," that means he wants to fuck her. Therefore... he wants to fuck Spongebob? This = not good. And then at the end of the ad he declares, "Booty is booty!" Sir Mix-a-Lot, you once said of booty, and I quote, "That butt you got makes me so horny!" I don't even want to know what you're thinking here.

Really, what is with the by now time-honored tradition of taking songs about sex and putting them in really inappropriate contexts? It's not like Sir Mix-a-Lot is famous for anything but this song, and the song is coming up on 20 years old at this point, so Burger King - and no doubt the guys at Crispin Porter, masters of subtlety and class - had to really want to use it. In an ad for a kid's meal. So, what other completely inappropriate songs from my youth can Burger King drag into their next ad?

"Relax, no big deal / When you wanna get a kid's meal / Relax, no big deal / When you wanna sponge"

"Like a kid's meal / Burgers for the very first time / Like a kiiiiid's meal / Got your square pants on my mind"

"I don't want anybody else / When I think of Spongebob I touch myself / Oh oh oh, I don't want anybody else / Kid's meal, kid's meal, kid's meal..."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

America shuffles heavily on Dunkin'

Hey! Parents! Are your kids watching too much TV? Get them outside and exercising, am I right? Go have a fun day at the park, toss the frisbee around, whatever! But get the family together for a fun outdoor activity!

Or, stay inside the house eating these frosted tori of fatty, sugary starch! Because that's just good parenting.

Look, Dunkin' Donuts. I'm not offended that you would advertise your product. And I like a good donut now and then. But the concept for this ad just bothers me. Really, that's the best way to get the family together? A box of donuts? That's your magic potion? This is going to be one fat, angry family in ten years.

Monday, March 30, 2009

If eating this sub takes longer than four hours, consult a physician

I saw a version of this ad on TV and thought it was dumb, but not horrible. However, I didn't see the version linked by an anonymous commenter on our last post. Dear God.

What is the thinking behind an ad like this? I mean, I guess if you read the YouTube comments there are a lot of people who think it's hilarious, but what awful commercial isn't that true of?

Oven: "Scott, I want you to do something."
Scott: "Not doing that again. That burned."
Oven: "We both enjoyed that."

Hey, how can we shoot this so that it has absolutely no alternate explanation whatsoever? What if Scott were to look down at his crotch as he delivers his line? That should do it.

Oven: "Now I want you to introduce my greatest creation, the new Toasty Torpedo."
Scott: "The new Toasty Torpedo?"

Dude. You are holding one in your hand! You are in the process of eating it! How do you not know what it is? On the other hand, this guy stuck his wang into a 400-degree oven. He's probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Oven: "Yes, Scott. You make one."
Scott: "Me?"

Yeah, pretty stupid. There's no one else around, idiot. And thank God for you there isn't, or you'd probably get fired for ejaculating into a machine used for food preparation.

Oven: "Put it in me, Scott."

Can they even air this? Jesus. This makes that Arby's hat-boner ad look like it was made in 1890s Vienna. Why would you make an ad like this? Most of the people who think it's soooo hilarious probably would have tried the sub anyway; meanwhile, I can tell you that I was tempted to try it... until I saw this ad. Now you can fucking forget it. Because if I'm going out for a sandwich, I don't have any desire to think of my lunch as a surrogate penis. For that matter, I don't want to think of the oven that's heating my lunch as a sentient being that derives sexual pleasure from sandwiches going through it.

Oven: "It's over a foot of Quizno's flavor on slim, sleek ciabatta for only four dollars. Say it, Scott."
Scott: "Only four dollars?"
Oven: "Say it sexy."

God, enough. Real subtle hand pushing the sandwich into the wrapper, also. I'm going to ask again: why do you want me to associate your sandwich with a penis? Is this really going to be good for business?

The version that I saw aired is also the version that you find if you go to the website to "take the test" as the ad dictates. In it, Scott says "I'm not rubbing you with that shammy again," and doesn't look down at his own mangled junk. That's fine. And the oven says "I'm waiting for it" instead, which is still kind of gross but more excusable in context. Even the "say it sexy" line (changed to "say it with passion") might have been forgivable if they'd just done it that way. But no, they had to "get people talking," so they did a whole version in which the sandwich they want you to eat is the product of a filthy, secret relationship between the oven and this dude. No thanks.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

That's the money you could be saving by not eating a lousy hamburger

While it's not like we've never featured McDonald's on this blog, they're not usually responsible for commercials quite this... let's say obnoxiously stupid. Maybe it's just a Quarter Pounder with Cheese thing.

Oh boy.

Voiceover: "The Quarter Pounder with Cheese knows you're looking at it."

No, it does not. Because it doesn't have eyes or a brain capable of processing sensory input (much less translating that input into thought). And if it did, it would probably be too busy focusing on the fact that it was getting devoured.

Voiceover: "And it's looking right back at you."

We just went over this: no eyes. At least Geico had the decency to put googly eyes on a stack of money when they ran an ad with what is, by the way, basically the exact same concept as the first 25 seconds of this spot.

Voiceover: "It knows how great it tastes. If you can't help but stare at its 100% pure beefy cheesiness..."

Was this commercial written by a 12-year-old? I must confess I do not understand, at all, this impulse to write such utterly dumbed-down, annoying copy.

Voiceover: "...that's your deal."

Hey, idiot. You're in a McDonald's. You want a fucking Quarter Pounder, dig into your pocket for what, two bucks, go up to the counter and order one. No need to stare at some poor slob who's just trying to choke down an extremely mediocre lunch.

Voiceover: "It's available. You know that."

Yeah, I just said that. Go order one, dummy, if you want it so much. Though I don't know why you would. Look at the burger that guy's holding. He's actually eating it, so it can't be one of the fake burgers they use in promo shots that look good because they're held together with pins, and the grill marks are painted on, and shit like that. It appears to be a real burger. And doesn't it kind of look like shit? Is that damp gray burger and limp, neon yellow cheese really making anyone hungry? I might have tried a little harder to actually push the burger, rather than just be like, "Hey, you know you want one." Because I pretty well know that I do not want one.

Voiceover: "The Quarter Pounder with Cheese. It's cheese, and beef, and cheese. And that's what's up."

First of all, Quarter Pounder sales must really be in the tank if McDonald's felt the need to build an entire ad campaign around a single menu item that isn't even brand new. Second of all, I can see why - is there a restaurant on the planet where I can't get a significantly more appealing 1/4-pound cheeseburger? Third of all, fuck this commercial. If your product really sold itself, guess what? You wouldn't need to advertise. Ads like this make me even less likely to buy something, not that I had any plans to eat a Quarter Pounder regardless.