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Wednesday, 23 June
Buyer's Remorse

In my ongoing campaign to subject myself to things I find very irritating, I continue to watch TV. But there are gradations in the irritation scale, like, say, reruns of "The Simpsons," seasons 3-7 (Irritation factor: 0) to ESPN personalities (Irritation factor: 5 [Exceptions here are for Stuart Scott's crazy eye, Irritation factor: 3, and also for John Kruk's stolid crappiness, Irritation factor: 7]), and all the way up to State of the Union addresses (Irritation factor: 10, regardless of the administration).

Two recent-ish ads have caught my attention.

One is, on the face of it, a relatively inoffensive and unremarkable ad (which really just means that its fundamental stupidity is within what you'd expect at baseline). It's for some dreary website called Overstock.com, which evidently has the dubious allure of hawking crap that failed in the marketplace at least once already. In other words, it's an internet outlet store. I don't know about you, but in my mind, outlet stores rank very low on my mental list of "things that are sexy."

So what's the theme of the ad? Sex.

The camera finds an attractive brunette (dressed all in white, wocka wocka--this virgin wants to suck your retail cock!) seated on a couch. She looks at the camera with a saucy grin and says, "Have you heard of (tiny pause) the big O? A restless nation sits forward: Yay! Orgasms! I want those! What, is there porn on the net now?

The brunette smiles and gives the big letdown: "Overstock dot com!" she says somewhat chidingly, as if we were naughty for thinking about something else. There's something hilariously Phyllis Dilleresque about this, only typically watered down for the mainstream--say something utterly salacious and then express mock surprise. "How could you think that?" Of course when I say 'The big O,' I expect you imagine a website that hawks vertiginously devalued clothing items!" Then I guess you dispiritedly obey this weird message by going on line to browse the newest offerings from noted clothing designers like Gloria Peterbilt and Timmy Stinkfinger.

On top of this strange meta-ruse is the actress' not-quite-trained-out vocal patterns. Her vowels are revealingly flattened and labored: "Ovuhstack dut cam!" It's really kind of charming, as this simply screams, "Well, HELLO MIDWEST GIRL!" Chicago girl makes good with crummy ad! You just want to kind of serve her some corn to make her feel like she was home again.

Irritation factor: 5 (modified down because of entertaining regionalisms)

The other ad is . . . I don't know where to start. It's like watching surgery. No: botched surgery. The ad is for Pepto-Bismol, which I understand from the get-go is a toughie. I mean, one needs to advertise, but when the product is of a sensitive nature, I suppose it's limiting. Knowing what you can get away with is, therefore, important.

Pepto-Bismol apparently hasn't the faintest idea.

The ad features five or six random "office types" in some depressingly omnicorporate room, all displaying faces of purest woe. Who will help these unfortunates? Why, a jaunty British accent will! For no explicable reason, jaunty British accent proceeds (with musical accompaniment) to explain just what Pepto helps out with, employing some tortured rhythmical feet that is irreproducible here. Trust me. The Brit voice crisply chants: "Nausea, heartburn, indigestion/Constipation, diarrhea!" And a terrifying offscreen chorus screams, "HEY! PEPTO-BISMOL!" I hope this guy got a good paycheck, because he continues, again: "Nausea, heartburn, indigestion/Constipation, diarrhea!" Only this time, the office workers are dancing to his horrible nonrap. They clutch their chests, their stomachs, their hips (this when constipation is mentioned, which made me wonder if they all had colostomy bags), and finally, their asses, all in time to the listed maladies.

And every time the unseen chorus howls "HEY! PEPTO-BISMOL!" a tuxedoed arm blasts into the screen with ruffly hot pink shirtcuffs showing, because Hey, stupid, our product is pink! I believe the AMA recently found that of all noxious medicine colors, pink was most efficacious. Look forward to "Queer Docs for the Sick Cocks." (Oh, calm down. I get to make dumb jokes every now and then.)

I can't really help but watch this ad whenever it comes on, but the real horror comes after (seriously: you've seen this ad, right?) the four or five fucking iterations of its horrid theme song. At the end, when the plummy announcer is making his little "Buy a bottle of this rancid potion" bit, the camera is still on the unfortunate office workers, who have been forced to continue doing their pantomime-dance along with the cheerless music. At the end of the commercial--I cannot tell if this was planned--they are all dancing, backs to the cameras, attempting to draw us in to their baffling Gastrointestinal Hop. At least two of them insistently point to their asses; one of the dancers grabs his buttocks and shakes them threateningly at the viewer.

I don't know what this means. It certainly doesn't say "Buy our poo-goo" to me, but nothing in this commercial does. Does he have a bomb in his ass? Is it a coded message from the Pepto Rebellion?

This is possibly the most disquieting commercial I've ever seen.

Irritation factor: 9. It would get a 10, but I have a feeling that this is a meaningful cultural artifact. It must be studied.


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

I've been lucky enough to avoid this ad... It sounds like it's trying to cash in on that big Macarena craze that was huge... like 10 years ago... Now I must search out this Poocarena ad and see it for myself!

Comment number: 004859   Posted by: Ryan Waddell on June 23, 2004 05:24 AM from IP: 206.47.252.98

I saw the Big O commercial for the first time last night, and noticed the odd inflections... but living here in the midwest, she sounded to me like she was trying to smother an accent from further east -- Ireland, maybe, or somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Comment number: 004860   Posted by: Nick on June 23, 2004 06:23 AM from IP: 64.238.64.1

Oh yeah, I've seen the eye-bleeding horror of the Pepto commercial. My favorite part is when the fat guy on the end actally fans his ass like he's just farted.

Comment number: 004861   Posted by: Craig on June 23, 2004 07:08 AM from IP: 68.76.89.54

Oh, you have no idea how relieved I am that I'm not the only person disturbed and annoyed by both of those awful commercials.

Comment number: 004862   Posted by: abby on June 23, 2004 07:57 AM from IP: 162.84.178.127

No. You did not call out StuScott's lazy eye. I'm not saying anything dog, but that ain't right.

Comment number: 004863   Posted by: Johnny on June 23, 2004 08:19 AM from IP: 198.107.39.210

No. You did not call out StuScott's lazy eye. I'm not saying anything dog, but that ain't right.

Hey, take another look: the Irritation factor is LOWER with Stuart Scott as compared to most other ESPN drones. I think he's keen. His eye doesn't bother me at all, but it would be ignoring the elephant in the living room not to acknowledge it. I say BRING THE EYE, STUART!

Comment number: 004864   Posted by: Skot on June 23, 2004 08:32 AM from IP: 66.150.9.2

It is reassuring to note that others find that damn Pepto commercial one of the vilest eye-rapes committed on the public in years. Isn't the Department of Homeland Security supposed to shield us from atrocities like this? As an aside, ever notice on those noxious commercials for toiletries to staunch or absorb inconvenient bodily secretions, that they always use a *blue* liquid to demonstrate that their wad of cottton or paper works better than, say, your hand or a bunch of leaves? I've always wondered if that's because blue is the only color they could use that doesn't at least indirectly put one in the mind of something that might spray, ooze, or propel out of someone...

Comment number: 004865   Posted by: Edwin on June 23, 2004 08:43 AM from IP: 4.139.54.178

I thought the Big O woman was probably Danish. She sounds a lot like Connie Nielsen to me, and has that Scandinavian look to her.

Comment number: 004866   Posted by: S on June 23, 2004 09:48 AM from IP: 67.42.109.220

I think that's "upset stomach, diarrhea," not "constipation." There really is something unsettling about that ad.

Comment number: 004867   Posted by: CG on June 23, 2004 10:22 AM from IP: 68.160.210.117

I think that's "upset stomach, diarrhea," not "constipation." There really is something unsettling about that ad.

Comment number: 004868   Posted by: CG on June 23, 2004 10:23 AM from IP: 68.160.210.117

How the hell did that happen? Sorry 'bout that.

Comment number: 004869   Posted by: CG on June 23, 2004 10:23 AM from IP: 68.160.210.117

Thank you. I tried to blog about that Pepto Bismol ad last month, but was so flabbergasted by it that I could only force my fingers to type "fucking terrible" and move on.

Comment number: 004870   Posted by: Mixmaster Mikey on June 23, 2004 10:25 AM from IP: 69.243.200.34

> I get to make dumb jokes every now and then.

now and then? timmy stinkfinger?

truly, you are the savior of the blog world!

Comment number: 004871   Posted by: fribly on June 23, 2004 10:34 AM from IP: 66.114.231.2

I think that's "upset stomach, diarrhea," not "constipation."

Ah, I think you're right. I was going off memory, and I guess my brain rightfully was trying to shield me.

Comment number: 004872   Posted by: Skot on June 23, 2004 11:28 AM from IP: 66.150.9.2

This commercial made me wish for a sheet to be posted, in a prime location (post office will do fine) with a list of the offenders who failed in their duty to prevent such an ad from besmirching my vision, and what type of meds they were on.

Like, "Coffee guy - Nyquil and 2 lines of blow -
Backstory:
Fired from 3 jobs, one of them with only 1 week to go before health benefits, spine cruelly crushed by dad's constant crapping and about anything he ever attempted, like a promising job as a sous-chef that dad snidely ridiculed, although cheffery, as demonstrated by pimptastic success on his mom's side and even his dad's late uncle Chip, was clearly in his blood."
- Judgement: In absolutely no mental or economical condition to protest the shoot, and a moving story. I let him off.

"Prop crew - sad sacks on assortment of pills, one newbie vegan with inadequate supplements.
Backstory:
There's some sexual tension between two of the propsters, they're culpable but truly blind to all but each other.

The third popper has a nasty secret involving sibling curiousity that got out of hand, and really, who doesn't?, but this one has yet to afford therapy. OK then.

The fledgling vegan deserves our respect for putting her morals where her mouth is, but nothing but scorn for lifting a finger, never mind that photocopier, to facilitate the filming of this heinous ad, which I'm certian has put more than one lovingly prepared supper in jeopardy of an unbidden repeat appearance.

And upon closer inspection, she skimped on the necessary supplements as she was only trying to impress her vegan boyfriend. In her heart, she pines for the pan-friend gravy of her grandma's kitchen, with nary a grease-stained smidge of remorse for the moo which formerly used that gravy to lube its joints."

-Judgement: Guilty, my falafel-feasting friend!

Comment number: 004873   Posted by: Molly on June 23, 2004 12:36 PM from IP: 68.162.218.203

Yeah, that thing is execrable. Also the one where all you see are women's midriffs with horrible nauseating things written on them with black marker. How could such lovely waists cover such vile gurglings within?
But there are some highly amusing commercials on now that almost make up for these stinkers. My current favorite is the car ad where you see a bunch of people with big lumps on their foreheads; then a guy goes to look at the wonderful car in a parking garage, turns around, and cracks his head on a pipe. Ah, mirth!

Comment number: 004874   Posted by: kath on June 23, 2004 02:55 PM from IP: 142.167.34.32

say, john kruk woulnd't be on your fantasy league would it?

Comment number: 004875   Posted by: goob on June 23, 2004 03:48 PM from IP: 66.114.231.2

I think the Pepto commercial would be greatly improved if the dancers were actually puke-specked and beshatted, letting us truly SEE their suffering.

Comment number: 004876   Posted by: Joe on June 23, 2004 05:49 PM from IP: 207.69.137.38

I haven't seen it...

Comment number: 004877   Posted by: berck on June 23, 2004 06:22 PM from IP: 68.97.3.241

Yup, a G.I. issue inspired version of the macarena...so frightening!

Unfortunately I have the song stuck in my head now...shit....

Comment number: 004878   Posted by: Diana on June 23, 2004 07:44 PM from IP: 65.96.242.182

Happy Birthday. You and David Sedaris should hang out sometime. You are the only two writers who make me laugh out loud, which is embarrassing, because to people around me, there is no obvious reason to be laughing. Except for the insanity that everyone suspects to happen eventually.

Comment number: 004879   Posted by: Ombra on June 24, 2004 06:53 AM from IP: 68.35.234.161

I had never seen this ad before (God bless Tivo (and the children)), but now, thanks to the miracle of the Intermanet, I have.

It appears that the off screen chorus isn't yelling "Hey, Pepto Bismol!", they're yelling "YAY! PEPTO BISMOL!". They're even MORE excited than Skot would lead us to believe.

Behold: http://www.visit4info.com/details.cfm?adid=15422

Comment number: 004880   Posted by: Mike on June 24, 2004 09:43 AM from IP: 206.170.148.183

But then there are some print ads that make up for it.
This beauty (done by the ad council) can be seen heading south on Aurora just below Northgate. When I first saw it out of the corner of my eye, I didn't know if it was real, or if my eye-brain connection just made it up.
But thanks to the beauty of the internet, and the Ad Council's huge site, I can spread this cheer everywhere.
It's a fat pdf though.
Colon Polyps
(And he's wearing Chucks!)

Comment number: 004881   Posted by: dayment on June 24, 2004 09:52 AM from IP: 64.105.86.146

stfu skot u so do not no what ur talking about the ad is not supposed 2 make u happy it is supposed to make an impression in ur tiny head so that the next time ur gut can't stomach (heh) ur blog or u eat some spaghettios u will buy pink and not gargle with vodka the way u always do i bet u will nvr forget peptobismol now those ad guys are smrt and ur a fart, heh stfu

Comment number: 004882   Posted by: i can paste on June 24, 2004 12:36 PM from IP: 66.160.108.162

I have a request:

Skot, please view the horrendous ad for 'Chaser' until you feel prepared to work it over with your magic wit. This would be the ad featuring the two alcoholics in the kitchen the morning after. The women is vile in a way that rivals even the terrible bitch with twins from the car commercial you so astutely dissected many moons ago. I patiently await your response.

Comment number: 004883   Posted by: do iiit on June 24, 2004 01:09 PM from IP: 67.108.58.98

Oh, but how could you not mention the ad for tonail fungus, whereby the cartoon "germ" or fungus or what ever approaches a foot and LIFTS THE YELLOWED TOENAIL AND HOPS ONTO THE NAILBED.

The Six Flags Theme Park commercials with that bald guy is a close second.

Comment number: 004884   Posted by: One on June 24, 2004 02:57 PM from IP: 208.186.63.49

Ohmidog.
Skot, you absolutely slay me - I've been reading your blog for a *very* long time - and, yes, you make me laugh out loud.

I took the link to see the abomination (I don't watch much TV) - oh my dog.

Unbelievable. I have no words for this.

:o

Comment number: 004885   Posted by: Julie on June 24, 2004 09:15 PM from IP: 64.63.219.172

It's not sick-making, but my fiance pointed out a terrible commercial last night. There are two cars on the road, and as car 1 attempts to pass car 2, car 2 speeds up like a total asshole. The whole point seems to be that car 2 is some magnificent, manly vehicle, but it really just points out exactly how to drive if you want to someone to shoot you in the side of the head.

Comment number: 004886   Posted by: spygeek on June 25, 2004 12:40 PM from IP: 192.28.2.52

I'd forgotten about this commercial until recently, but it's based on the same principle of "drill it into their heads 'til they can't forget about it, even though it's totally annoying" as the Pepto ad. Those fucking McCain's Golden Crisp ads. The perky dude babbling nonsense offering free samples, other people eat the samples and start speaking presumably the same dialect of gibberish. The idea is something like you won't be able to find words for something so delicious as this (gross-looking) French fry-esque...stuff. What I've taken to be the true underlying message is that eating that shit will turn me into more of a blithering idiot than I already am. I'll pass.

Comment number: 004887   Posted by: CG on June 28, 2004 09:33 PM from IP: 68.160.210.117

Well, now they've taken it a step further. At www.peptobismol.com you can create your own Pepto dance and watch people have diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, indigestion, upset stomach over and over again. It's kinda fun.

Comment number: 004888   Posted by: Megan on October 6, 2004 08:04 AM from IP: 24.123.173.41

Hey Skot, maybe you should do a little research on Google before opening your mouth and spewing your opinions. Stuart Scott received an LEFT eye injury when he was working out with the NY Jets. Not only did he almost lose his career as a sportscaster but also sustained a detached retina in his RIGHT eye prior to the LEFT eye injury. So poking fun at him is juvenile and base.

Comment number: 004889   Posted by: LT on October 25, 2004 04:12 PM from IP: 68.64.14.209

By the way, here is where I got my info.
http://www.visionconnection.org/Content/Prevention/Safety/Sports/ProtectYourEyesWhilePlayingSports.htm

Comment number: 004890   Posted by: LT on October 25, 2004 04:13 PM from IP: 68.64.14.209

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