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.


Quivering P. Landmass said...

Oh and also, it doesn't work:

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the use of the character, but the part about using Airborne to help your immune system "when life catches up to you" with the scene with "his" daughter is just so stupid.

capewood said...

I've not only not seen this ad, I've never even heard of the product. I've got to get out more.

Anonymous said...

"Snake" has nothing on "Spike" who was in the ancient commercial for the Call Blocker feature. "Hey hey! Ya daughter there?"