Monday, October 17, 2011

Tacos are for closers

During last year's baseball playoffs, Taco Bell managed to come up with an ad that actually was not completely stupid.

Sorry about the video, but I couldn't dig up a better example on YouTube. Anyway, that's not too bad, right? You could argue that Joe Girardi and Mariano Rivera aren't famous enough to lead a commercial like this, but it did play mostly during baseball games, and obviously that audience is going to recognize two well-known Yankees figures. Rivera's acting is pretty bad, but hey, he's not an actor, nor is English his first language, so I think we can cut him some slack. The concept of the ad is moderately clever, it's not overwritten, and there's some amusing little touches like Rivera taking a last sip of his drink before running over. It's not some masterpiece, but given how bad most ads are, I can live with one like this.

Unfortunately, this year Taco Bell did this instead:

The weird thing is, I'm quite sure I saw an ad with Brian Wilson in it this year where he was basically doing a similar thing to what Rivera did last year - "hey, I'm the closer, I'm here to finish your overly large chalupa." That's the whole joke, after all, since Wilson only gained fame as the closer for the Giants during last year's World Series. But I can't find that one on YouTube, and it seems like it didn't run very much, almost like Taco Bell felt like they needed a pretense to get to this one but liked this one so much more that they abandoned the pretense as soon as possible.

Why is this ad so bad? Well, perhaps the biggest problem is that it seems like Wilson wrote it himself. For God's sake, Mariano Rivera, the best closer in history and certainly one of the most famous, gets two lines in his ad. Yet here's Wilson, unaccountably given nearly every line in the ad in spite of the fact that he's less famous than Rivera, is also not much of an actor and comes off like a total maniac. (That was likely the point, but that doesn't mean it was a good idea to do it.)

The whole "let's go meta on our own ads" thing is pretty trite, too. And since the only point of having Wilson there is to continue the "you need a closer to finish this huge chalupa" theme, and since Wilson, no matter how much of a character he is by baseball standards, is not a professional comedian and therefore incapable of selling a pretty dire script, it makes no sense to change the entire concept and yet STILL KEEP BRIAN WILSON IN THE AD.

I mean, "black ops?" "Inner deliciousness?" Really? What's with the props? This is like the world's most sedate Robin Williams routine, only performed by a baseball player and even less funny. Nothing Wilson "comes up with" ties into the idea of the chalupa being especially large - which, again, is pretty much the only reason these ads exist in the first place. I guess there's the "these monsters are stacked" line, but compared to everything else he says that's basically a non sequitur, so I'm not even going to count it.

Really, I imagine it would have cost Taco Bell a lot less to cast any old commercial actor in this spot, cut out the "Brian Wilson just decided to change the concept" framing device and shoot it as some wacky doofus vamping around while his friend attempts to eat the XXL Chalupa. Would that have been fucking retarded? Of course it would have. But so is this, and if you're going to insist on making a stupid ad, I'm guessing not paying whatever Wilson's endorsement fee is would at least have been cheaper.

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