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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Or try new Cinnamon Ghost Crunch

These Mini-Wheats ads are... a little weird.

Mini-Wheat 1: "Ah, the first day of school. New pencils, new books..."
Mini-Wheat 2: "New backpack! Looks good."
Mini-Wheat 1: "Just trying to look our best."

This is where things start getting weird. "Our" best? These kids are being followed around by the anthropomorphic spirits of the cereal they ate for breakfast this morning, and that cereal is talking like it and the kid who ate it are a single unit. Does that weird out anyone else?

Mini-Wheat 2: "Gonna take more than looks. From what I hear, Miss Haskins is a toughie."

From what you hear... from who? Is there some sort of Mini-Wheat grapevine? "Well, I happened to overhear the Mini-Wheat this kid's older brother ate telling the Mini-Wheat his mom ate that Miss Haskins was tough when he had her last year. Because, uh, he's been eating the exact same Mini-Wheat for a year? Or like, if you eat Mini-Wheats every day you just get this kind of Mini-Wheat spiritual advisor as a permanent thing? Also, I can't believe they got David Spade to do this voice." (Possible alternate theory: David Spade impersonator? Could such things exist?)

Mini-Wheat 1: "Oh, we had a good breakfast, so we're ready!"

...who? Who fucking had a good breakfast? Did the Mini-Wheat have a hearty bowl of grits just before being devoured by the kid? Why doesn't this commercial make any goddamn sense?

Mini-Wheat 3: "Gonna be another great year, huh, guys?"
Mini-Wheat 1: "You bet your eight layers!"

Eesh. Another great year? So these are, in fact, some sort of permanent Mini-Wheat spiritual guides? Presumably they slap you upside the head if you ever eat anything else for breakfast, since the end result has literally everyone with a personal Mini-Wheat as though this were one of those liquor ads where every bottle behind the bar is DiSaronno. Of course, this is an ad for Mini-Wheats; I guess we can't expect Toucan Sam perched on one kid's backpack or anything.

Voiceover: "A clinical study showed kids who had a filling breakfast of Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal improved their attentiveness by nearly 20% when compared to kids who missed out on breakfast."

This just annoys me. Not that there's anything wrong with their methodology per se, but the idea of a world in which the only choices are Frosted Mini-Wheats or go hungry is kind of ridiculous. Also, did they really conduct a study in which they actively had to deprive kids of breakfast? Because that seems kind of shitty. And if they simply picked a bunch of kids who happened not to have eaten breakfast as their "control" group, that fails to account for about a bazillion potential extraneous variables. I also wonder how they're defining "attentiveness" and whether 20% is really statistically significant. But hey - good use of the word "clinical" in there. Makes it sound really important!

I also like the close-up shot of the bowl of Mini-Wheats with raspberries in it while the woman is talking. How many bowls of Mini-Wheats in history - particularly those eaten by children before school in the morning - contained fucking fresh raspberries? I will say zero.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Remember, Asians are the smart ones

The premise of any commercial for a men's deodorant, body spray or body wash is the same -- non-stop sex. For example, watch any Old Spice ad. But that's actually not my complaint about this Nivea for Men commercial, because over-the-top sex appeal just so commonplace that it's silly to call it out. Rather, I object to this commercial for another reason (just watch the first commercial here, I think this includes both the :30 and the :15 versions):

Now the first part of this ad pokes fun at some the Old Spice and Axe Body Spray nonsense, by showing teenager parodies lusting for a strong-smelling body wash they think could get them laid (and the only reason they would have that perception? Commercials.) But in the middle of that is a fairly egregious slip-up:

Asian kid (nerdily): This won't increase my ability to mate.

Oh yes -- stereotypes. That's what body wash/deodorant marketing was missing! Man, the constant barrage of flimsy promises of easy women wasn't enough -- I really needed it to hit home with some old-fashioned cheap shots at minorities.

The Bodywash for Grownups

If only Nivea had hired some grownups to write this ad for them.

So, while this commercial doesn't rely on ham-fisted sex appeal, it doesn't exactly elevate the dialogue, either. One step forward, two steps back. We see that pattern far too often around here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


If you read our Super Bowl recap, then you may be aware of our distaste for the manic spectacle that is the SoBe lizard commercial campaign. Sadly, SoBe didn't just create the lizard spots for the Super Bowl, no -- they're hellbent on continuing the onslaught of visual diarrhea and disturbing CGI for the foreseeable future, if not forever.

Their latest ad isn't much different than the Super Bowl one -- except that there's no Monsters vs. Aliens tie-in -- but it's especially stupid for several reasons, which I'll get to after I make you watch it with me:

Now, in the Super Bowl version, you had three NFL players performing ballet. It was clear they were NFLers because it was during an NFL game, and the guys were big, and Ray Lewis was in it. Now you just have Matt Light who, and I'm sorry if anyone is a big football fan here, just isn't a household name. He's a Pro Bowler, but on his own, and donning a white spandex suit instead of a jersey, he just looks like a stupid fat guy spazzing out. It's taken completely out of context, and it looks weird. I can't decide if it hurts more to watch Light dance around like a buffoon, or to watch the agonizingly bad animated lizards.

And then the last scene shows Light pouring a milky liquid all over his face and then suddenly metamorphizing into a freaky lizard that looks like it was animated in PowerPoint. Is this included just to scare children? Or does some part of this equate into increased demand for Life Water?

Hopefully this lizard business will stop. We've seen enough. We've shoehorned in enough weird properties and celebrities into the lizard ads, and we're certainly had our fair share of low-grade computer animation. I would love to see SoBe do something decideded un-lizard for their next campaign. Maybe something that has to do with a health drink? Oh yeah -- being relevant. That's kind of important in marketing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Let KGB Google that for you

Good news, everyone! KGB wasn't satisfied with the crappy commercials they started with. Time for some more inessential nonsense:

Female Agent: "What do we know?"
Male Agent: "38 year old Caucasian male. This is the wife, she called it in. Doesn't sound good."
Wife: "Thank goodness you're here. One minute he's fine, and then this."
Male Agent: "What is it?"
Female Agent: "It's brainlock. What was he doing right before he froze?"
Wife: "He was trying to remember who played first base for the Red Sox in '86."

God, KGB, really? Anyone who cares about the answer to that question is going to remember it unless they are actually having significant memory problems, because the answer to that question is Bill Buckner, owner of the most famous error in World Series history.

Wife: "It was, like, right on the tip of his tongue."
Male Agent: "Bill Buckner."
Husband: "Buckner!"
Male Agent: "There you go, sir."
Husband: "Right through his legs!"
Male Agent: "Right through his legs."

I'm sorry, did I fall asleep and wake up twenty years ago? The Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007, meaning that Red Sox fans have no reason to continue to fixate on Buckner's error in the woe-is-me way this guy is doing. (In addition, serious Red Sox fans never spent nearly as much time blaming Buckner as the media would have you believe.) This commercial was clearly written by someone who knows like four things about baseball. Although, if it's twenty years ago, that would explain why this guy - who is in his own house - can't just go to his damn computer and look it up himself.

Male Agent: "And if it happens again, just text us at 542542."

If it happens again, learn how to operate a computer, maybe.

Wife: "It's a miracle!"
Female Agent: "No, ma'am. It's KGB."

Good call - there is nothing miraculous about coming up with easily retrievable pop culture nuggets. At least in some of the other ads they show a guy in a bar texting for an answer - the only possible use for this service, at least if you don't have the internet on your phone - but, again, this guy is in his house. The sheer inessentiality of the KGB service as depicted in this ad staggers me. Why run it at all?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Boosting the ick factor

When you're down the ladder in terms of market share, I suppose I can see why you might feel a need to do something "out there" to get people's attention. But when you're doing something like this? Something so repugnant it just makes me want to look away and change the channel as fast as possible (and long before you've gotten your product name out there)? I'm not sure what you're really going for with that.

How bad is this ad? Bad enough that the first place I saw reference to it was in the comments section of this very blog, in a comment by reader Capewood. What did he say about it? Well, here's his first sentence: "I don't remember the company but some cell phone service provider is running a commercial with a woman and a guy riding a bicycle." (Bolding mine.) Sounds like a memorable ad! Good thing Boost Mobile went for the "hook" of a horrific image that no one wants to look at!

At least it's in service of a hilarious, hilarious joke, right?

Girl on bike: "What, you think this is wrong? It's a little gift from Mother Nature. I'll tell you what's wrong - it's cell phone companies charging hidden fees."

*spits out water* Pahahaha! Oh man, Boost Mobile. You got me. You told me what was wrong. I thought I knew what was wrong, but I was wrong! Oh man! There it is again! The wrongness!

I don't think Boost has gone far enough, though, if they really want to catch people's attention. How about... animal cannibalism? Oh, you did that. Not gross enough, right? You need humans involved. Well, how about a coroner eating food that was just sitting on a dead body? Man, that would be pretty out there... oh. You also did that. Well, I've got one suggestion left. But be warned: it's comedy gold.

[Setting: a suburban living room. The doorbell rings.]
Girl's voice: Come on in!
[A 35-year-old man enters through the front door. He is carrying a six-pack of Smirnoff Ice.]
Man: Katie?
Girl's voice: I'll be out in a second! Make yourself at home.
[The man sits down on the couch. Suddenly, Chris Hansen walks out from the kitchen.
Chris Hansen: What are you doing here?
Man: Uh, well, I just came to... uh...
Chris Hansen: To have sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Man: What, you think that's wrong? I'll tell you what's wrong - cell phone companies that charge hidden fees!
Chris Hansen: You do realize you're on Dateline NBC right now.
Man: Heck yeah - I just looked you up using my sweet web-enabled phone.
Chris Hansen: Well, you're free to go.
Man: I will go - go call my lawyer on this awesome unlimited plan from Boost Mobile!
[As the man leaves the house, he is tackled by twelve police officers.]

Boost Mobile - where you at? Hopefully not a 15-year-old girl's house.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Math is hard! Let's bake some cookies for the boys!

You might remember this gag from when Breyer's did it first, years ago, using cute preschoolers and ice cream in place of grown women and canned soup. Sadly, that ad could not be located online, but the premise was that a preponderance of ingredients that the children could not pronounce, like "polysorbate 80," meant frankenfoods, while Breyer's, which contained only "milk, cream, sugar and natural flavors," was clearly wholesome and nonthreatening. Adorable. Effective.

Now here's this:

Announcer: What might you find in Progresso Light?

Woman #1: [surprised] Artificial flavor!

Woman #2: Wonolatteeee, uh...

Woman #1: Monosodium glu- gluta- mate?

It's cute when small children stumble over big words. It's ridiculous when adult women are hired to act like wide-eyed dumbasses, and you know they're struggling to act when the blonde says "monosodium" perfectly and then has to remind herself to stutter through "glutamate."

Woman #3: That's MSG.

Announcer: All light soups are not created equal. Select Harvest Light has good stuff.

Thank goodness for abbreviations and shorthand like "good stuff." All those other details and syllables make tiny female brains hurt.

Woman #4: Pasta with whole grain!

Woman #5: Natural sea salt.

Woman #6: There's roasted natural chicken in here!

Through the miracle of modern science.

Announcer: Progresso weighs their light soup down with MSG and sodium.

Woman #1: Sodium, sodium, sodium.

She's certainly got "sodium" down. I can tell she practiced for hours. Probably with a coach.

Woman #6: This is heart healthy.

Woman #5: 80 calories.

Announcer: New Select Harvest Light, from Campbell's. Real ingredients, real taste.

Woman #6: [smiles cutely and holds up her bowl] More please!

As we've established earlier, you are a grown woman. Go get your own damn soup.

And thus ends the unintentional theme for today, which is that women, like children, become overwhelmed by all your polysyllabic words and science-y chemical mumbo-jumbo. It's unintentional because presumably, every actor in this commercial was cast to act confused and naive, and presumably the reason that all the actors were women was that women are the key demographic for light soups. This commercial would have been off-kilter even with a mix of male and female adult actors, but manages to strike a worse note because only females appear.

I don't buy your script, because it's obvious that all of these people are playing dumb. And I won't buy your soup, because your commercial is a damn mess.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Melts in your mouth, not in your pants

Having talking spokescharacters can get a little weird if the characters are items of the food product you're selling, and using sex to sell candy creeps me out. So when M&Ms manages to make an ad that goes wrong in both of these ways? I'm not a fan.

There are about a million ways this is wrong. Let's enumerate just a few of them:

1. The attempted sexuality of the bare legs and high heels.
2. The purring, bedroom-voice voice-over.
3. The horrible "seductive poses."
4. The wink.
5. The fact that an M&M is eating other M&Ms.

Why, M&Ms? Why do you think it makes sense to sell your product with creepy, utterly repulsive "sexually appealing" candy? Your audience is not made up of M&Ms (even if it were, M&Ms quite clearly lack genitalia, so I fail to see how they would put their desire into action). Your audience is humans, and humans don't want to have sex with M&Ms. Therefore, you do not need your main spokescharacter to be a "sexy" M&M; really, there's no such thing, in spite of how you pretend otherwise.

Now yes, I'm aware of the longstanding rumor (spread by complete idiots) that green M&Ms serve as some sort of aphrodisiac. And I'm also aware that M&Ms started to use the "sexy" female green M&M to play on that (only, what, two decades behind the curve of the urban legend). But if you're going to do that? You use sexy humans and regular green M&Ms. You do not use sexy M&Ms. This would still be terrible - because when I think of sex, I do not think of M&Ms - but at least it doesn't make me think that you think I want to fuck your candy.

The cannibalism subplot of this ad is underrated, by the way. This is the same company that ran a surprisingly sadistic ad ten years ago in which Diedrich Bader mockingly consumes Crispy M&M's entire family while Crispy watches helplessly; now, however, it's apparently okay for new M&M brands to be eaten, even by existing M&M brands. Unless that's really why the other M&Ms are staring at the end of the ad. "I can't believe she ate Jerry in cold blood! I mean, in cold chocolate! Just right down the hatch! Also, do we even have digestive tracts? Where do you think he went?"