Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Irony thick enough to clog your arteries

They do know... right?

True story: as I was watching this ad for the first time, not knowing what it was for, I began thinking, "I wonder how ironic the punchline to this setup is going to be." And then it was. It's possible, of course, that Taco Bell is in on the joke here. But I'm not sure you can make this joke AND be in on it.

Announcer: "If you need to be told how to be a man, Taco Bell's Triple Steak Stack isn't for you."

It's winking, obviously. But behind the wink it's the exact same pitch! You can dress it up and claim you're poking fun at the male-targeting advertising industry - which I'd be fine with - but it doesn't really work when your ad ends up in the exact same place. I mean, take it logically:

Real men don't need to be told how to be a man.
If you need to be told how to be a man, Taco Bell's Triple Steak Stack isn't for you.
THEREFORE, Taco Bell's Triple Steak Stack is for real men.

So maybe it's not a perfect syllogism, and the first premise is implicit rather than stated outright (but it's pretty clear in the implication), but it's easy enough to follow the line Taco Bell wants you to draw mentally. Even as they poke fun at ads telling you how to be a man, they are TELLING YOU HOW TO BE A MAN. Eat the Taco Bell Steak Stack and prove your manliness. Better yet, prove that you're not affected by ads telling you what manliness is! Other ads, that is. Not this one. Let this one tell you. (Hint: it involves a shit-ton of steak.)

If you want to sell your Enormous Steak Flatbread (protip: "Stack" is not the most appealing description of food) to a male audience, that's fine. But what's the point in being all fucking arch about it? "Selling things based on questioning your masculinity? We would never do that. PS real men eat Cheesy Steak Logs from Taco Bell." Just make a regular pitch, assholes. (By comparison, here is another current Taco Bell ad that is completely straightforward, gets its point across, and gets out. It would have been so hard to do something like that again?)

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