Thursday, February 9, 2012

Repulsion comes standard

How about another supplemental award? This one we'll call The Creepiest, Most Off-Putting CGI Award. And the winner is... Cars.com!



This ad is supposed to be funny and/or appealing.

Salesman: "Have you decided which vehicle you want to go with today?"
[horrifying CGI monstrosity version of the customer emerges from his back; music plays]
CGI horror: [singing] "Hey baby, I want that car / Hey baby, I really want that car / Let's get that car..."
Customer: "Yeah, that's my confidence, it's been coming out of me ever since I went on Cars.com."


I can think of many, many ways to depict someone as being confident. Cars.com has used at least a couple of them in earlier ads. This is... not one of the ones I would have picked.

Customer: "I compared gas mileage using their side-by-side comparison tool, and uh, this one would be great."
CGI horror: "Hoo! Yeah baby, let's get those keys and go!"
Salesman: "I'll get the keys."
CGI horror: "Woo!"


Quivering and I were talking about this earlier, actually. Why is it that so many ads try to be funny and so few of them are? We came to the conclusion that most people who are funny enough to write successful jokes for a national ad campaign probably have better things to do with their joke-writing talent than write commercials. There's a reason why Will Ferrell's Old Milwaukee spots have captured attention, and it has a lot to do with the fact that Will Ferrell is way too talented of a comedian to be doing spots for Old Milwaukee.

This ad thinks it is funny. There's no disputing that. But the only thing in the ad that is supposed to be funny is the horrible "confidence" singing. And it's not. I know that humor for most people follows the old Potter Stewart line about pornography - "I know it when I see it" - and so maybe it's futile for me to ask people who think this is funny (and, amazingly, they are out there) why they think it's funny. But I can't for the life of me figure out why this is funny or how it even is supposed to be. It's a creepy bit of CGI singing in falsetto that it wants a car. Who fucking cares? That's really what passes for a joke here?

Here's Ad Age's take on the spot, which they rated as one of the best of the Super Bowl - for real:

The first response to this commercial, in which a second head is singing that he wants this particular car, will be this: WTF? The second will be, "Wait, let's watch that again." Ultimately, this polarizing ad will push viewers into "love it" or "hate it" land with no room in between. The spot is made by the facial expressions of the main head and the singing of the second head—and that song, which will become this year's "Give me back that Filet of Fish." Me? I'm loving it.

Well, he nailed my initial response. And he was right that this is likely to be a love it or hate it ad, though it's still not clear to me why anyone would love it. But watch it again? I could barely stomach watching it a second time to transcribe it for this post. As for the song becoming this year's "Give me back that Filet of Fish" - apparently that's supposed to be a compliment? That singing fish ad made me want to stick my head in an oven. I guess there's no accounting for taste.

This commercial isn't even sure what it's saying, because it's too busy falling all over itself trying to force a terrible joke. So if you go to Cars.com you'll become confident! And that's a good thing! Except that the "facial expressions of the main head," by which "the spot is made," give every indication of being embarrassed by, and somewhat exasperated with, the "confident" singing head. I'm expected to think the creepy second head is a good thing? I don't.

A lot of ads have this problem. They want to make what they hope will be a funny joke, but then apparently they decide to hedge their bets by having the characters in the ad seem weirded out by, or somehow upset with, the source of the joke. IT DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY. If you're going to do this shit, you have to sell it. If you want an ad where a guy feels more confident after going on Cars.com and using their comparison tool - great! Do that. If you want an ad where you just do some wacky shit, fine, I guess. Jamming them together is super pointless. Especially when all the comparison tool told the guy is which car gets better gas mileage, which last time I checked is usually one of the first pieces of information stamped on any showroom car anywhere. All we end up with here is an ad where the guy is really confident for no good reason but seems to feel ashamed of that fact. This was supposed to make sense? This was supposed to sell me on Cars.com? It's a lousy pitch even if this spot didn't feature creepy-ass CGI and a "song" that makes me want to stick knitting needles in my ears.

Last year's Cars.com ad, for those of you lucky enough not to remember it, was four "jokes" in thirty seconds. This year's ad is one joke, and it's even less funny than any of those four, all of which were awful. Give Cars.com some credit: they're getting more efficient at making bad jokes.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know what this guy is talking about. I LOVE this commercial. Yeah baby lets get those keys and goooooooooooooooooo, woo!

Quivering P. Landmass said...

Another ad that probably appeals to a demographic way younger than the car-buying public they were shooting for.

Hatterasman said...

It has to be the creepiest commercial I have ever seen. What were they thinking?

Anonymous said...

Super old white people were probably not in the commercials target demographic. The commercial is funny to me and my friends. My sister even has it as one of her ringtones. How could someone find it polarizing? You guys must be a lot of fun to be around.

Piles said...

Yes, the commercial is stupid, but dear god do I love the song.

Anonymous said...

I dont understand the serious negative feedback about this commercial. I personally think it's hilarious and so does my dad and my friends. The singing and the facial expessions of both heads are very funny

Lash said...

are you joking, the purpose of a commercial is to get the sponsor noticed, and have it "stick" ...

this commercial does that and more, guys at work talking about the cars.com "my confidence" commercial, students at school showing the video on their phones, this commercial hit a homerun...

who cares how stupid the commercial is or its plot or its acting ...

it worked!

mjmpgh said...

The head fake on the last "WOO!" causes me to lose it everytime.

mjmpgh said...

The head fake on the last "WOO!" makes me lose it everytime. So hilarious.

mjmpgh said...

Here's a ringtone: http://db.tt/dEaoNKIz
Enjoy!

Jordan said...

I despise this commercial, and I immediately change the channel every time it comes on, so I don't even know what it is a commercial for. It's STUPID and CREEPY. And to the poster above who thinks only "super old white people" won't like it, grow up; what are you 12? You're certainly not their 'target demographic'.