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Wednesday, 19 July
Ads Have Started Something In My Soul

I ask you all again: since man discovered the joys of being able to sell stuff for other stuff--oh, let's say money--we have had advertising. So WHY, WHY are our advertisers still so terrible at it?

There are exceptions, of course, but not unexpectedly, the exceptions are 1. unusual and 2. have a lousy shelf life. For an example, try walking up to a group of friends some time and greet them with a hearty "WHASSSSSUP?" And now you're being hit with tire irons, if you're lucky!

The liquor industry has once again reclaimed the airwaves after a long hiatus, and while there are some interesting efforts, born (I assume) from a long absence, most of these spots are ridiculously horrible. Morgan's Rum tries to cash in on its strange, calisthenic Pirate mascot, and Southern Comfort seems to be lamely trying to self-start a meme involving the term "SoCo." Go ahead! Order a "SoCo" or a "SoCo and lime" at your local bar! Watch as the bartender stares at you with naked horror. You are communicating many things by doing this: 1. You watch too much TV. 2. You actually listen to your TV. 3. You enjoy undrinkable brine such as Southern Comfort.

We don't have to get into the deeply alarming ads for Disaronno again, but suffice it to say that it has resulted in a massive exodus of females from bars ever since. Disaronno, once regarded as a fey liqueur for Yale cricket teams, is now known as the only drink out there for self-immolating chicks who enjoy waking up with simian bartenders.

Who thought these ads were a good idea? It doesn't even get much better on the malt liquor front, but perhaps that's not too surprising. Corona at least is intermittently clever and playful with its minimalistic ads, while the penniless-seeming Mike's Hard Lemonade commercials appear to be generated by people who got bounced from the Gong Show. J.P. Morgan says: "When I'm out of cough syrup, I almost always drink Mike's Hard Juice!" CUT! Honest, what do you say about an ad campaign that features an intern who holds up an empty bottle to the camera? "Mike's Hard Lemonade: The Beverage That We Can't Even Bear To Show On Film."

The sum of it all is, I don't get how advertisers, or the corporations who employ them to make these embarrassing spots, are so fucking terrible at it after all these years. Car ads are another good example. Car ads are routinely dull and humiliating and completely uninspiring. Car companies, when they feel they've siezed on some sort of memorable tagline, tend to keep it in their teeth, like a hungry leopard might gnaw on last week's gazelle. Think of things like Mazda's calcified "Zoom Zoom" campaign--oh, that adorable African child chorus! They'll only have to work for nine hundred years to afford your cars!--or Dodge's superannuated "Ram Tough" bits, which these days only makes me think of the Saint Louis Rams, which is perhaps not the ultimate example of "toughness." Earlier tonight, thinking about these things, I realized that I really missed those old 80s Infiniti ads where white-gowned divas prowled in marble hallways wailing about . . . I don't know . . . moss? Let's say moss. "Buy Infiniti cars! Or fuck off. We don't care."

There is a new car ad that frankly freaks me the fuck out. I can hardly bear to watch it, because it's even stupider than those old Infiniti ads. It's for Ford.

There's this guy in a suit; he has salt-and-pepper hair, and he is trapped in some strange circular neon-lit stage that seems to double as a star chamber, or perhaps Arkham Asylum's Neon Cabaret. I don't know: for all I know, he's dancing insied a digital watch. He's singing. I'd like to say I've written down all the lyrics, but I can't be bothered, but it's something like:

I know what I want!
I get what I need!
I snargle glampers
Mortimer Sneed!

Then he screams into the camera, "POSSIBILITIES!" He looks sort of like Adam Arkin, which somehow adds to the horror of it all. Then, of course, there's many cuts to a bunch of fucking cars driving around. Hey! You can drive cars! Good to know.

But it's really the trapped singer that makes this ad so nightmarish. For one thing, GET OUT OF MY FACE! The guy attacks the camera as if it owes him money. For another thing, where the fuck is the audience? Nowhere. This poor fool is trapped in some sterile orbital station and forced into lunging it out for nobody at all, which probably explains why he's so desperately trying to Arkin all over the poor cameraman.

"POSSIBILITIES!" he shrieks again to the bad music, and then his arms fall off. He's still in the empty digital watch, and I want to cry. Never in my life have I wanted to not buy anything so much as right now.

Fuck all this. The world has become confusing. Bartender? Give me a SoCo and lime.


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

I'll raise you one more. Granted, the fact that I live in Texas may mean that these are more prominent, but Great Goliath:

The (final public, hell, it's only been eight years!) acceptance of Daimler-Chrysler has led to those terrible commercials where some idiot trying to justify his life as (ironically, I'm sure) some middle-managing ad-exec asks a pseudo-Freudian scientist (again, ironic, I assume) how the marriage of the blessed German engineering and American penis-waving and fuck you attitude have combined to show up Jerry down the block with his new Lotus or H2.84Beta or whatever.

Anyhow, the pseudo-Freudian, named, of course, Dr. Z come off on some quip and either scares the fuck out of nutless Joe or (thankfully) rams him into a concrete wall when (less than thankfully) the airbags and framing save him.

I digress. The point being, anytime those commercials come on (and need I remind you? This is Texas, they're on as contant as the Weather Channel) the SO starts singing the Doctor Zaius song from Troy McClure's Planet of the Apes musical. She can't help it, and I thrive on her chagrin.

No matter what gin-soaked pithy fight we get into nowadays, all I have to do to win is scream "I *Love* You, Dr. Zaius!"

And I do.

Comment number: 007801   Posted by: ufez on July 20, 2006 01:09 AM from IP: 71.199.216.42

sad to say i know this, but the jackass in question is the latest winner of american idol. as bad as the commercial is you can't blame him, he's just trying to earn that last buck before people forget who he is.
fuck i don't even remember his name, other than "that old looking jackass from american idol"
fuck him and fuck ford

Comment number: 007802   Posted by: HaNZ on July 20, 2006 05:28 AM from IP: 24.21.21.100

The best part of those DCX ads? The guy in the ads actually IS Dr. Dieter Zetsche, the CEO. Not even a stand-in, like in those old Nissan "dogs love trucks" ads (which forever made me love the Chiat Day agency).

And sadly: Taylor Hicks. I refused to watch that awful trainwreck, and I STILL know that. Stupid brain.

Comment number: 007804   Posted by: jwer on July 20, 2006 06:25 AM from IP: 208.200.215.136

The saddest thing is that Americans are the BEST at selling stuff (and, of course, BUYING stuff). To paraphrase the French operative in the movie "Diva," "The Americans are known the world over for this." In Europe, at least, they only have to watch their even worse commercials every half hour or so.

I actually watched the Ford commercial for the first time without muting it yesterday, and all I could think of was "THIS guy won American Idol? Jesus, he blows!" I won't make that mistake again.

The Dr. Z. commercials I actually like because I enjoy hearing the word "Diesel" pronounced correctly: "Deezl."

Comment number: 007805   Posted by: Andrew on July 20, 2006 10:23 AM from IP: 70.103.148.113

Oooh. Have you seen the new Denny's ads? They've pretty much adopted, "Eh... we're the only thing open," as the new slogan.

Comment number: 007807   Posted by: veronica on July 20, 2006 02:16 PM from IP: 12.218.146.211

i was getting my oil changed monday, and they had the local news on the TV in the waiting room. a commercial for "HeadOn" headache reliever came on and it was like 15 seconds "HeadOn! Apply directly to head! Apply directly to head! Apply directly to head! HeadOn! Apply directly to head! Apply directly to head!" they just kept repeating it over and over and over - with nothing else between repetitions. that was the whole commercial: "HeadOn! Apply directly to head! Apply directly to head!..."

then another 15 sec ad from the same company came on. i forget what it was for, but it followed the same pattern: "Plugz! Shove it up your ass! Shove it up your ass! Plugz! Shove it up your ass! Shove it up your ass! Plugz! Shove it up your ass! Shove it up your ass!"

wow.

Comment number: 007808   Posted by: cleek on July 20, 2006 02:39 PM from IP: 66.162.201.180

Oh, poor Taylor Hicks. They basically sell their souls to coke and ford when they're on American Idol. I don't know who wrote that jingle or decided that he should be singing in a digital watch, but odds are they held a figurative gun to his head to get that performance out of him.
And I have a friend who can still pull off "whassssssup." Then again, she uses it sparingly, and is normally rather refined, so it always makes me laugh. Maybe I'm stuck in 1995.

Comment number: 007809   Posted by: Amanda on July 20, 2006 03:29 PM from IP: 67.37.176.158

I swear to God I had no idea that the dude was an American Idol golem. I cannot watch that show. It makes my intestines scream.

Comment number: 007810   Posted by: Skot on July 20, 2006 11:38 PM from IP: 66.235.58.126

I, unfortunately, watched about the first half of this season of American Idol. Luckily even Hubby tired of it and we gave it up afer the few talented ones got kicked off by "America" (who votes for this stuff anyway? My 12 year old cousin?) Felt like poking my eyes out and amputating my ears.

My best friend in college (circa early 90's) drank mostly SoCo and coke. And she called it that. Still a horrible drink, rather like trying to savor mouthwash, but at least the ad company didn't make up the name in some vain attempt to force trendiness upon us.

Still... I'd rather drink an entire bottle of SoCo, one loathesome shot at a time, than have to watch American Idol again.

Comment number: 007811   Posted by: jamie on July 21, 2006 06:35 AM from IP: 204.156.77.12

Well, dammit, you said SoCo enough times that I swear I want one now.

Another fucking advertiser, right here in our midst. Enjoy your royalties while I drink this fruity fermented urine. With lime.

Comment number: 007812   Posted by: JJ on July 21, 2006 09:14 PM from IP: 67.168.63.153

Oh my God! That Head On commercial freaks me the fuck out.

HEAD ON. APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD.
HEAD ON. APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD.
HEAD ON. APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD.
HEAD ON. Available at Walgreens.

Comment number: 007813   Posted by: MCR on July 22, 2006 09:34 PM from IP: 216.137.182.60

Like these are any worse than the Hummer ad where the little frazzled mousy mom gets bullied by the sleeker suburban brunette mom, so she goes and buys a Hummer, to "get her girl on".

They also have a male version, with a guy thinking to himself "I am such a pussy" because he's buying tofu and the other guy in line is buying meat and charcoal. So he buys a Hummer.

Anyone falling for these ads must have the constitution of a sugar glider, and the brains to match. It implied people that stupid could fill out the financing forms, and then get financing. I fear for our economy.

Comment number: 007817   Posted by: dglynn on July 24, 2006 10:37 AM from IP: 74.134.237.49

Like these are any worse than the Hummer ad where the little frazzled mousy mom gets bullied by the sleeker suburban brunette mom, so she goes and buys a Hummer, to "get her girl on".

They also have a male version, with a guy thinking to himself "I am such a pussy" because he's buying tofu and the other guy in line is buying meat and charcoal. So he buys a Hummer.

Anyone falling for these ads must have the constitution of a sugar glider, and the brains to match. It implied people that stupid could fill out the financing forms, and then get financing. I fear for our economy.

Comment number: 007818   Posted by: dglynn on July 24, 2006 10:39 AM from IP: 74.134.237.49

My first ever alcohol consumption as a teen was a fifth of Soco. I had long hair. I woke in a puddle of vomit mash mingled with my hair. Never drank it again. Thank fuck for teenage trauma.

Once upon a time I worked for Compaq, before Hewlett Packard consumed the company Montezuma still-beating heart style. I got promo crap. One was a CD wallet made to look like two license plates back to back, with "Takin It To Tha Streets" in faux graffiti style indented upon either side. I need not elaborate upon why this qualifies as a travesty.

My favorite insulting ads are these:

One shows a man trying to measure a shower curtain rod, and it keeps falling down as he extends his measuring tape. So buy the laser beam measuring tape! Because you're too fucking stupid to take the rod down before measuring!

The other is for premade Thankgiving dinners. So pathetic, so sad, but not as bad as the premade frozen grilled cheese sandwiches I saw in the grocery freezer near UIC.

I despair.

Comment number: 007821   Posted by: Steve on July 24, 2006 07:18 PM from IP: 75.22.11.187

Mmmm. SoCo and lime....Gimme suma dat! Gimme gimme! NOT! I mean whasssssup!

Comment number: 007836   Posted by: maarmie on July 26, 2006 09:41 AM from IP: 206.201.190.68

I know what I want!
I get what I need!
I snargle glampers
Mortimer Sneed!

Pure, unadulterated brilliance.

Comment number: 007845   Posted by: Squidley on July 27, 2006 10:39 PM from IP: 206.55.252.146

You know, i've been a frequenter of message boards for years. And I've used the bizarre acronym for Rolling On The Floor Laughing, many times, always lying just a little bit. But today, my friend? I really and truly was ROFL, reading this post. THank you, from the bottom of my slightly drunk little heart.

Comment number: 007892   Posted by: Lydia on August 10, 2006 05:48 PM from IP: 69.1.1.112

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