Sunday, May 1, 2011

Domu ads. Stupid. Annoying. Chicago.

This probably falls into the category of "stuff only I care about," since unless you take public transportation in Chicago you're never going to see these things. But they've just been blanketing the El and buses lately, which means I'm stuck learning two unlikely things about some total stranger I couldn't care less about.

Because there's no way I'm going to get a picture of these things from a moving train, I'm stuck with the ones inside cars or at stops I actually use. So trust me when I say there are way worse ones than the ones below. For instance, every male appearing in these ads seems to have come right out of "Look at This Fucking Hipster" right down to the clearly ironic ridiculous facial hair.


I mean, look at these fucking things. So, okay. Presumably the idea is that you're trying to sell the viewer on the product by showing a wide range of people who use the service (right down to the varying of the neighborhoods, which is probably the most important part anyway). But how does it help to go with weird, ridiculous, unrealistic and/or esoteric professions and interests? Take this one. Slam poets and urologists? Both of them? Did they meet at a urology convention and realize they both loved slam poetry, or did they meet at a slam poetry session and discover they both happened to be urologists? I mean, come on. It would be hacky enough to make some ad be all "Hey, wouldn't it be super funny if this person was a slam poet and a urologist?" But pretending that this describes two people living together makes me absolutely incapable of taking this bullshit seriously. Is this supposed to be lighthearted and I'm thinking too hard about it? Probably. I don't care. It's stupid and I have to see shit like this eight times every day. If they weren't so ubiquitous I'd have snorted and moved on.


"Muse?" Guess what - go fuck yourself. Is there a single noun you could use to describe a person that would make them sound more insufferable other than obvious pejoratives? I say no. And while this might be stereotyping, is there a universe in which this woman looks like, of all things, an air traffic controller? She looks more like a waitress at a vegan restaurant who goes to art school during the day.



Thanks (I guess) to what appears to be the website of the woman who took the photos, I was also able to get a hold of this one. Holy shit, LOOK AT THIS FUCKING HIPSTER. Worse yet, this appears to be part of maybe the most bizarre viral marketing attempt of all time - that Twitter account has been posting for several months, mostly about podiatry, but if you read the thing it's pretty clear (I think) that it's being ginned up by someone who isn't a real doctor, it links only to Domu.com and gives no actual links to or contact info for the supposed business, and Google doesn't give any indication that anyone named Sven O. Svenson is actually a podiatrist in the area. Also, if I walked into a doctor's office and they looked like this motherfucker, I'd be out of there faster than you can say "This is the weirdest fake shit I have ever seen in my life."

According to Liska + Associates, the agency responsible for this nonsense, "For the next evolution of marketing, Liska worked with Domu on a series of ads that feature the human side of Domu—the cool, interesting Chicagoans who use the site." Here's the problem: it's hard to feature the human side of something when you use humans who are so obviously fake, and when half of them have goofy, esoteric jobs or interests that virtually no one can relate to, and every picture is the most hipster-looking douchebag available. I can't recall seeing a single one that's just a normal looking dude in a business suit. They all have to have weirdly teased-up hair, or stupid ironic beards, or be dressed like they're on their way to a poetry reading in 1997. None of these people look "cool" or "interesting" unless you're already that kind of a schmuck, which means I'm forced to assume that Domu decided that their only real audience, I guess the only people currently renting apartments in Chicago, was hipsters. In which case, I guess, mission accomplished?

Dear advertisers: making the people in your ads into ridiculous extremes of human behavior does not make them seem more real (because how could I possibly come up with a person who was a slam poet and a urologist???). It makes them seem fake as shit. Even if these were all real people and were accurate recountings of their jobs and passions, I would have come up with some other people whose descriptions were closer to the peak of the bell curve, not several standard deviations toward the far end. Because these ads are stupid unbelievable bullshit and don't sell me on a fucking thing.

17 comments:

Tyler said...

Well struck. Saw the slam poets/urologists one on the Blue Line last month when I was in town and worried that the fodder for Sara and Selena's slam poetry is pretty gross.

Kerrie T. said...

Love. I read the first ad in your post in Google Reader -- "urologists and slam poets" -- and was like WTF is this? The campaign sorta reminds me of the stupid farmboy ad from Rosetta.

Loved your post.

Anonymous said...

"@svenluvsfeet" sounds like a creepy fetish Twitter account.

Dan said...

The male ad looks like a complete joke. Somebody is fucking with this client and getting away with it.

Sean RB said...

Well they did just get you to feature them in your article...a win for them.

Maybe they're self aware and capitalizing on it.

I don't think they are, I'm just saying it's a possibility.

Kyle Klipowicz said...

My mustache isn't ironic.

;-)

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! These ads have been driving me insane. Latest one shows a woman and her dog. The dog "hates cats" and the woman is a "wax sculptor". What the hell. How about "Joe. College Student. Sports lover. Wrigleyville."

Bam. I just made an ad that woul appeal to tens of thousands more than what Domu advertises. I hate these ads so much. I am so glad I found this post.

Joseph said...

Funny, since one of the guys in the ads is one of the most truly genuine people I have ever known, if I had to guess, he probably did it for some extra cash. I know I would. And there is no way they told him they were going to make up some fake information so ridiculously farfetched about him and put it all over buses and trains. And if he did, don't you think they made the completely unbelievable on purpose? Either way, it's pretty sad you care so much.

Ian said...

From the comments above mine, it's clear you already know that you are not the only one in the city who cannot stand this cute condescending campaign. I cannot say how dead on you are here and you have summed it up exactly as I would have wanted to...

Windier E. Megatons said...

"Sean RB said...

Well they did just get you to feature them in your article...a win for them."

You know this is a blog about terrible ads, right? Unless you're one of those "any publicity is good publicity" people.

meltdowngrfx said...

Have you seen this latest Domu Chicago ad?: "Stosh. Goat herder. Shaman. Lower Wacker Drive."

MaryEve810 said...

I just cried laughing at this entire posting literally. Found it while Google-ing someone explaining these ads. HILARIOUS

Rachystyle said...

LOL, I know the girl who is the Air Traffic Controller/Muse and she definitely is just an amateur model who did this for some cash.

Jam said...

I just saw "Gretchen. Butcher. Love child. Wicker Park." on the side of a bus and it drove me over the edge. I'm glad I'm not the only one who HATES HATES HATES these stupid ads! Cheers

Anonymous said...

I think most people are clearly over-thinking the concept, which leads me to believe most of you are not in the advertising industry. The professions/interests are obviously made up but that's not the point, in fact, that's the lowest priority on their communication hierarchy.

These ads do a few things right and a few things wrong but for the most part I think they're effective because they're simple enough to remember and engaging enough to check out. I've looked on Domu when apartment browsing but I wouldn't have known about them without these placements.

Overall: they're not the best ads I've seen but they're not nearly as bad as you describe them.

Jshark said...

We should all get together and hang out. These ads piss me off more than most. Visual pollution they are.

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