Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You have to be kidding me

We talk about unrealistic ads on here all the time, but it's almost unthinkable how bad this one is.

Let me preface this by saying I've never been to a Buffalo Wild Wings. But I sort of assumed from the name that they were some sort of buffalo wing restaurant. And yet, in all the commercials I've seen of theirs - and during the NCAA tournament there have been more than a few - I cannot once recall seeing anyone eat, or even hold, an actual chicken wing.

In fact, the commercials that do air make Buffalo Wild Wings seem like the Trilateral Commission's private sports bar. A panel that enables them to fix the outcomes of sporting events? Referees in their back pocket? Truly this is a frightening vision of the New World Order.

These ads annoy me for a number of reasons, not least because "You have to be here" is such a ridiculous tagline. Why do I have to be there? It seems to be just like any other sports bar. And the idea of people in a sports bar not wanting to leave just kind of depresses me. How miserable is your life if you're all, "Oh, please let this game continue! When I'm inside the protective sanctuary of Buffalo Wild Wings, all my cares melt away! I simply can't face harsh reality again so soon!" If that sounds familiar, you've got bigger problems than whether or not this game goes into overtime.

In addition, this ad substantially misrepresents what it's like to be a fan of a sports team, as I think anyone who actually is (a group which apparently does not include anyone at Buffalo Wild Wings' ad agency, who seem to view sports as something they once heard of) would easily recognize. I mean, let's talk about what exactly is happening in the basketball game being watched in this ad:

1. New York and Boston are playing.
2. New York has just tied the game at 102 on a dunk with less than six seconds to play.
3. The entire bar, including any number of people in Boston apparel, cheers this result.


I don't care how great a time you're having at Buffalo Wild Wings, eating chicken wings (I assume) and drinking probably shitty beer. If you are a real sports fan, you want your team to win. A situation in which they somehow give up a wide-open, game-tying dunk with six seconds left is not something to be applauded. Further applauding when your team is going to win the game but is unable to do so because the player is blinded by a camera flash is complete lunacy.

But who cares if your team wins, right? You're just a fan of, you know, watching sports. In a general sense. It's not whether you win or lose, it's whether you get to sit in a Buffalo Wild Wings for an additional 15 minutes. Because you just have to be there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Better pizza, bigger annoyance

I'm sure you've seen the ads that Domino's has been running recently, in which they show focus groups talking about how shitty their pizza is, and then they go back to those same people and go, "Hey, we fixed it! Do you love us now?" And those people are like, "Yeah, this pizza is now totally great!" Although at least some of them basically admitted that they might not have been so critical had they known Domino's was actually going to look at the video, and so maybe they're just saying it's great because they're ON FUCKING TELEVISION THIS TIME but whatever. Maybe it's great now. (If you haven't seen the ads, they were mostly chopped down out of this big fucker.)

I'm just saying: if you've just run an ad campaign talking about how your pizza was super terrible to the point that you had to completely fix the recipe, I'm not sure I'd make this my next move.

Domino's Chef: "For years, Papa John's has been telling us they have 'Better ingredients, better pizza. But when challenged in this court, they stated their slogan is 'puffery.'"

Yeah, uh, question for the pizza chef. Are you telling me that Domino's actually took Papa John's to motherfucking court over the wording of their slogan? Because that seems like some kind of ridiculous bullshit.

Chef: "What's puffery? Scott, you're a lawyer."
Scott: "Puffery: 'An exaggerated statement based on opinion. Not fact.'"
Chef: [shrugs dramatically]

Look, if you want to be all serious about this, it's very easy to argue that "better" is ill-defined and that Papa John's is not necessarily claiming to be literally better - whatever that would entail - than other pizza chains. But also, during the "years" when Papa John's was claiming this, Domino's pizza was apparently complete shit. You guys just ran ads telling us how your pizza used to be awful, and apparently you only fixed it in December. Are you mad because Papa John's didn't change their slogan immediately after you changed your recipe? Because it doesn't seem like there's any real impetus on them to do that. Unless you took them to court over it like total douchebags. (And if you didn't really take them to court and you're just saying that to make a more "interesting" commercial... well, that's just puffery, my friends.)

Chef: "Here's what's not puffery. Our new hand-tossed sausage, extra cheese and pepperoni pizzas just beat Papa John's in a national taste test."

Okay, good for you, but again, I'm assuming this just happened since your new pizza is still, you know, new. So what were you criticizing them for? This is like if after Barack Obama was inaugurated, he made some speech that was like, "For years we've heard George Bush give speeches like he was the president. But I just checked and it turns out I'm the president right now! George Bush should stop calling himself the president." And then everyone would have been like, "Wow, we just elected the dumbest man alive." Honestly, Domino's, do you just have no concept of time passing? Is your ad agency run by dogs? What is happening here?"

Chef: "Our pizzas taste better and that's not puffery. That's proven."

I mean, I guess. You'll forgive me if I don't necessarily take a bunch of nobodies' opinions on the taste of pizza as some sort of gospel truth. Also, see everything I already wrote, you stupid asshole. Does Domino's really think that behaving like some nitpicky douchebags is going to win them any friends? Do they think that people take advertising slogans so seriously that this was in any way needed? Are there people who would actually be like, "I don't know, Domino's, you say this new pizza of yours is good, but I just saw a Papa John's ad and they specifically said, 'Better pizza.' So, whatever, that clearly must be true." Because if there are, I'm really afraid.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Burnt Sienna

Remember when Dodge insinuated that minivans were for pussies, then immediately turned around and tried to sell you a minivan? (It was like three posts ago.) Well, Toyota's taking a different tactic in the minivan war. A different annoying tactic.

You know who has great commercials? Sonic! What if we basically copied those commercials and then made them about the car the people are sitting in and not what they're eating? Get that one actor too. He's hilarious.

Husband: "Well, we got a minivan, for the kids."

You know, you can put kids into cars that aren't minivans. Are minivans good for kids? Sure, I guess. But if you really have the antipathy for minivans that's implied here... you don't have to get a minivan. See: 8 million horrible soccer moms driving like fucking Ford Expeditions or whatever.

Wife: "Right."
Husband: "But we got a Sienna... to match how awesome we are."

As if the Office-like pseudo-confessional wasn't obvious enough, how about this guy just totally channels Ed Helms? I mean, I'm sure Ed Helms is not the only guy in the world to ever do a character like that, but it is the exact vibe I get here.

Husband: "I like to call it the Swagger Wagon."

If these people existed, and were as earnest in their douchebaggery as this couple is, how many friends would they have? Zero? Some sort of imaginary number?

Wife: "It's actually a lot like our family. Stylish, modern, super good-looking."

It feels like I've been asking this for years now. (In fact, I have been asking this for years now.) Why do companies insist on selling their products with obnoxious assholes as the spokespeople? Didn't it used to be the other way around? Think about how Camel had to stop using Joe Camel because, basically, he was too cool, which made kids want to smoke. Think about various celebrity endorsements. The idea was supposed to be that other people who used the product were cool, attractive, and pretty much everything the viewer wanted to be. I know we're in a jaded, postmodern age, but we've gone through the looking glass if the ideal spokesperson for a product is someone who isn't cool or attractive but just thinks they are, and announces this to everyone in grating, self-absorbed fashion.

Husband: "You know, sometimes when we roll up in our Swagger Wagon, and people see our style... uh, I don't want to say that they get jealous..."
Wife: "Yeah you do."
Husband: "Yes I do."

As if this weren't annoying enough on its own, the ad flashes "Daddy Like" and "Mommy Like" on the screen during this section. This is actually supposed to be the campaign's slogan, and let me tell you, it's so fucking terrible that I would rather buy a Prius I knew to be malfunctioning than buy a Sienna and take the risk that someone would think I thought this ad was even remotely tolerable. Holy fuck.

Announcer: "Meet the family, and the new Sienna, on YouTube."

I've met the family. They've been met. And if you think that this ad made me want to spend one more fucking second in their presence, Toyota, you are sorely mistaken.

Okay, I did watch a few of the others. But if I didn't write for this blog? Not a chance. I'll spare you the agony of going through any of them, but suffice it to say they're exactly as awful as you'd think. If you're interested in torturing yourself, start with this one, in which we are asked to believe that the Sienna is so great you can use it as some sort of spa. Really.