Wednesday July 23, 2003

If only I could remember what I was going to say. I think today is one of those random thoughts kind of days. For instance…

Commercial Pet Peeves

I was watching TV today and was subjected to too many commercials. When I can wrest control of my own mind from the beta wave induced hypnosis I at least hit the mute button, but I noticed some things that I’d like to add to my list of commercial pet peeves:

  1. Talking animals:

    And dancing and winking and other computer-generated personification gimmicks. Enough already! I blame it on Taco Bell with that dang Chihuahua. See what it’s led to? After Taco Bell abandoned it’s talking chihuahua campaign for ads that focus on their decided target market group of men between 18 and 24 they left in their wake shelters full of abandoned mini-dogs and the inspiration for lackluster ad executives everywhere.

    From the Bush’s Baked Beans dog to Kangaroo Jack to anything with talking babies and now that hip-hop move-bustin’ canine for Kibbles n’ Bits. And Geico’s gecko. Okay, so a human baby isn’t an animal but it’s the same special effects being used. Whoever you are out there making these things. I know you can hear me. Please. Stop.

  2. Dudes:

    You know what I’m talkin’ about. What’s with all of these dude types? Does this really make people want to buy things? Like the Dell dude. The one who got busted for weed and lost his contract, which is ironic. Notice that Dell’s new campaign uses good looking, squeaky clean-cut college interns. Straight and narrow all the way. “Adam” even has a bedroom full of stuffed animals. And he was cool enough to take his black friend home for the weekend. Oh wow. Look at this. Sad.

    And now the DQ dudes. “Average” guys sitting around doing goofy, numb-minded things. “Dude, dude. Check one, dude.” What the heck is that all about?! It definitely won’t convince me to buy one of those flourescent, chemically compounded iced sugar bombs decorated with candy nuggets. Not if it’s going to burn me out like those two guys. No way, dude.

  3. Emasculated fathers:

    Just watch a few kids’ cereal commercials. Kids rolling their eyes and insulting their clueless, apparently weinerless fathers and male adults in general. Maternal figures are untouchable, though. Women and kids always win in these commercials. That one guy in the Cinnamon Life commercial gets jacked by his infant at the breakfast table. And the other dad gets worked over by his daughter’s invisible, imaginary friend over a slice of cheese. Fathers are incompetent losers. That’s what I learned from watching TV. Do these writers have issues or what? I guess horror movie writers have issues with their mothers and kids’ ads writers have issues with their fathers.

  4. Winning goals:

    Who can resist the image of the game-winning shot. Ball or puck or body part blazing over the goal line while the defender dives in vain. It’s always the same image, too, but now it’s not just for breakfast … I mean, sports drinks commercials anymore. They’ve switched to the “indomitable will of the athlete” motif, which I like because it doesn’t seem as superficial as “Drink this and get some.” But now the culprit for the Winning Goal commercials seems to be laundry detergent ads. They must pull it out of a bag of tricks. “Johnson! Get me Feel Good Image #223. Pronto!”

  5. X-treme everything:

    Extreme anything to the max. That nickel was spent a long time ago. Can yogurt ever be extreme? I figure if you’re eating it, it ain’t that extreme. I don’t care how you package it.

  6. Musicals:

    Someone out there — some twisted pollster or marketing whiz — has decided that musicals are the “in” thing. Maybe because “Hairspray” made such a big splash in the news recently. I’m not crazy about musicals to begin with. I played in the pit band for many years in high school so I don’t like them from the inside out. I wish that someone had learned their lesson from “Cop Rock.”

  7. Monks who have vowed silence:

    Okay. This one I really don’t understand and I can think of three commercials using monks. AOL has one for its broadband service about monks who are into baseball. There’s that video chat service commercial, probably another broadband thing, where the monk cook gets caught because someone on the other end of the internet is talking to him. What is number three? I just saw it today. Can’t remember.

    Whatever the ad was for it had nothing to do with monkery. I can tell you that much. Are monks cute or something? Is there some great appeal that I’m missing? The juxtaposition of the traditional vow of celibacy combined with the hip, modern-day, down to earth use of post-modern gadgetry? “Oh, ha ha! Who would a thunk it?!” Kind of like watching senior citizens rap and break dance. Or Tibetan monks playing basketball.

  8. Break dancing:

    Oh! That just reminded me. Break dancing! How could I forget that one? It’s not too surprising that there are ads out with break dancing. Retro is in and the 80’s are still among the 31 flavors of the month. I think the commercials I’m thinking of may have something to do with cell phones. But the strange thing is that at least two of them have Asian girls breakin’ it down and pop locking and the whole nine yizzles. Asian girls wearing hats that you’d normally only see on old black men.

    I can’t explain it. I’m just making the observation.

I guess I just don’t like being manipulated. I mean, if you’re going to manipulate me, at least challenge me, for goodness sake. Even when I was younger I was smart enough to realize that chewing Stick of Gum X wasn’t going to get me laid any more or less or at all than Stick of Gum Y. Neither will shaving cream, mach 3 razor blades, toothpaste, etc. (Have you noticed that they don’t actually use toothpaste in toothpaste commercials? Too messy.) And carbonated sugar water doesn’t result in an instant street party. I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work.

Everybody’s trying to sell something. I got no problem with that despite the fact that there’s an entire industry whose purpose is to convince you by hook or by crook to spend your hard-earned money on things you don’t need. “9 out of 10 scienticians of our choosing recommend our product over that other brand that’s exactly the same except for the box.” But there are a lot of people, an entire industry, that’s being paid to be creative. Supposedly. So how come everything is the same? And when all else fails, sell it with sex. But that’s a whole ‘nother road to hoe.

And my sarcasm muscles have been sufficiently stretched for the day. Aaaaaah, feels good.

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