Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'm really, really hating it

For a long time, McDonald's was not just the unquestioned leader in its industry, it was also responsible for a lot of memorable ads. The last couple of years... not so much. First we had this ridiculousness, then we had the biggest asshole in commercial history, and then we had... hand dancing. Oh, did we ever have hand dancing.

Yet overall I would still have said that McDonald's was probably the least offensive ad maker in its cohort, if only because of sheer volume - yeah, the coffee guy is a huge asshole, but it's not like that was the only ad McDonald's was running. Recently, though, they've just gone completely off the rails.

For instance, what the hell is this?

Let me say right off the bat that I LOATHE the entire "the simple joy of X" campaign. I hate everything about it. The "simple joy" of cheap, shitty food cranked out by minimum-wagers on behalf of a multinational corporation? Fuck off. But that's just the start of the indignities perpetrated by this series of ads.

Husband: "I'm home! ...oh."
Wife: "Where were you?"
Husband: "Uh, I was just in the car."
Wife: "The car? What's that on your collar?"
Husband: "Hm? Oh... tie?"
Wife: "Why do you seem happy?"
Husband: "I'm not..."
Wife: "Come here."
Husband: "Okay."
Wife: [smells him] "Mint. Wow."
Husband: "I had a Shamrock Shake."
Wife: "I hate you."
Husband: "And I got one for you, too..."
Wife: "I love you!"

This is deranged. This is mental patient level shit. The wife almost certainly has some sort of personality disorder, probably something in Cluster B. Also, she mouths "I love you" at the shake as she walks away. She has PROBLEMS. But McDonald's doesn't seem to see anything wrong here. To them, this is perfectly acceptable behavior where the Shamrock Shake is concerned. See:

Announcer: "The magical minty flavor you'll covet with all your heart."

GET. THE. FUCK. OVER. YOURSELVES. I guess it's probably hard not to be supremely arrogant and self-centered when you're a company like McDonald's. They are the dominant global force in fast food. In 2010, McDonald's had revenues of more than $24 billion, a figure greater than the gross domestic products of nearly 100 countries. So, you could argue, McDonald's doesn't really have anything left to sell. They could never run another ad and they'd probably do just fine. And when they run ads implying that people are functionally addicted to their food, I guess they have the sales figures to back that up. But FUCK is it annoying.

What's really grating is the straight-facedness of it all. These commercials seem designed to appeal to a younger crowd, and they have the vibe of post-modern ads that are all about joking and almost playfully undermining the product. But if there's one thing McDonald's does not do, it's undermine its products. No, McDonald's inflates them to almost godlike statures.

THIS IS ANNOYING. It is annoying and terrible. This is a lot like that "bigger than the Big Mac" ad from five years ago that was actually the first McDonald's ad to make this site. See, McDonald's, here's the thing. You're really famous. Everyone recognizes the arches, everyone knows the Big Mac song in spite of the fact that it hasn't been the centerpiece of a campaign in like decades. But NO ONE uses your food as a reference point. NO ONE. "It's the Egg McMuffin of X" is not something that ANYONE has EVER said in ANY context, outside of the actors during the filming of this commercial. And are there really even people who think of the Egg McMuffin as the most delicious food item ever invented, such that this ad would begin to make a lick of sense? I feel sad for them, if so.

You can't even claim it's tongue in cheek. It's not tongue in cheek. McDonald's has the clout to say that their products are fantastic and addictive and world-defining, and they are totally serious about it. Maybe they're not wrong. But it's extremely obnoxious.

My two least favorite McDonald's ads at the moment, of course, I can't find on YouTube (not copies worth posting, anyway). If anyone can turn up a decent copy of the ad with the two old guys or the "I've been around" ad, let me know.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Live from New York, it's creative bankruptcy

I've commented a few times in the past about how an ad has reminded me of a Saturday Night Live parody commercial. But I'm pretty sure this is the first time in the five years I've been writing this blog (yep, we're FIVE years old now) that an ad has actually stolen its entire concept from one of those SNL ads.

Did Verizon think they were just going to get away with this? Did they think no one would remember the Bad Idea Jeans spot from SNL because it aired so long ago? Guess what: WE REMEMBERED. The top two comments on YouTube both call Verizon out for being ripoff artists, which means that not only did two people notice it, but so did dozens of other people who subsequently voted up those two comments.

The real question is: does Verizon think they were just doing a "playful homage"? I mean, the similarities are hardly just limited to the basic "bad idea" concept:

They're both playing basketball too! Of course, that makes me think that Verizon wasn't trying to hide anything, and that they just thought we'd find it funny if they referenced a previous bit of humor. The problem is that while I'd expect that from, say, some douchebag's internet ad blog, I tend to think that maybe professional ad writers could actually come up with their own jokes. (Don't bother pointing out how they had to write new things that were bad ideas and how that counts as coming up with jokes. For starters, anyone with a sense of humor could come up with three or four "things that are obviously bad ideas." Then there's the fact that Verizon's are pretty toothless - granted, this is a national ad campaign and not a late-night comedy show - and the fact that there seems to be a pretty clear thematic connection between some of the jokes, like the two that are about the guy's kids or the one about where surgery is dirt-cheap - clearly some third-world country - and the original one about Haiti.) Everything about this ad screams laziness, if not just outright plagiarism. It's like whoever had the Verizon account woke up late on the day of the pitch meeting, ran out the door without his notes, and had to make something up for the client on the spot.

Oh, and extra negative points to this current Verizon series for reusing multiple commercial actors I already hate, including the doofus from the State Farm "Journey" ad right below this post and, in another ad in the series, the biggest of the three idiots from those old Raisin Bran Crunch spots. Like it wasn't bad enough they were already reusing someone else's concept.