Daily Archives: August 20, 2012

Commercials: #2

When I wrote the first rant about television commercials over a year ago, I promised I would return to the subject repeatedly. Better late than never, here’s another entry towards keeping that promise.

As I mentioned last time, I’m not a big fan of marketing and advertising. Of course companies need to market and advertise their products. It’s the way they go about it that I sometimes (in all honesty, make that frequently) find repulsive. Back in the early days of the interweb, I had an idea for a website devoted to debunking and fact-checking commercials. I never got around to that, but the thoughts and ideas I gathered may find expression here.

Ironically, I’ve spent a fair part of my career in IT departments supporting the sales and marketing sectors of The Company. It sometimes makes me feel as if I’m working on a bomb factory. On the other hand, it’s given me more insight to the twists and tricks.

Now, without further ado: More television commercials that push me postal…

Klondike Bars

Our first entry is this commercial from Klondike that drives me up a wall. I have mixed feelings about posting the actual video, but here it is:

Apparently the makers of Klondike bars have decided that their target is strictly men. How incredibly insulting is it that listening to your wife for five seconds is deemed an onerous and challenging task.

There is another pair of commercials that are just as insulting, but I will give them credit for coming at it from a (stupid) female point of view as well as the (stupid) male point of view. The first stars Greg who is apparently such a child that he needs to be rewarded with ice cream for seeing a “chick flick” with his lady, Pam.

And guess what, the other stars Pam who is equally challenged seeing an action movie with Greg. One can’t help but wonder what kind of future those two could possibly have. (And word to Pam: in the movie theater put the cell phone away! Any sympathy I might have had for you just flew out the window.)

So maybe it isn’t so much that Klondike imagines its customers are men so much as morons. This is a tone I find in many commercials that puzzles me. They seem to suggest that those that buy their products are morons. Beer commercials seem especially prone to this (I’ll get to them another time). I’m not sure that’s a great advertising tactic.

The pity of it is that those bars look pretty good, and they have a variety of tasty flavors. What would I do for a Klondike bar? Well, I’d just buy one. Of course, that’s not going to happen now.

Arby’s Thief Vandal Guy

This one makes me sad, because—if I did go to a fast food restaurant joint—Arby’s is more likely to be my choice that the other well-known giants (unless there’s a Carl’s Jr. available; love the Western Bacon Cheeseburger).

I’ve been eating at Arby’s ever since they became the other fast food place in the 70s—a nice alternative to the Big Two. (I will confess that it took me a while to catch on that “Arby” is meant to be “RB,” which stands for “roast beef.” Sometimes I’m a little slow.)

In fact, I’m quite partial to their Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich. If I recall correctly, I’ve been in a fast food joint only once in the last decade; Arby’s was where I went, and a Bleu is what I had. I didn’t realize at the time it might the last one I ever ate (in point of fact, I went slightly after the lunch rush, they made it fresh, and it was one of the worst ones I’d ever had).

I’m not ragging on the “Good mood food!” slogan. The ‘oo-oo-oo‘ assonance is a good advertising trick; it sticks in the mind. Even that it seems to bother a number of people enough to blog about it isn’t necessarily a bad thing (the old “no such thing as bad advertising” idea).

And again I’m very conflicted about posting the video, but here it is:

So here’s a commercial where, in the name of selling fast food, this asshole casually invades the space of two people eating lunch, steals an umbrella and smashes two mirrors. (What do you think would happen to you if you walked into Target and smashed two mirrors?)

The good news is that a piano falls on him; the bad news is he’s fine.

What’s even sadder is the YouTube site this comes from where people express surprise that anyone could be offended. Let’s see, the guy is guilty of malicious mischief, theft and vandalism. “But it’s just a commercial,” you feebly protest! Then why the little “Do not attempt” disclaimer? Could it be because people do take the television machine seriously (which, after all, is somewhat the point)?

Oh, human race, you have sunk so low.

AT&T Cellphones

These guys made the last rant about commercials, and here they are again. I have to say that I’ve been consistently underwhelmed by the AT&T cell phone commercials. They all seem (at least to me) to me missing a point. (That’s hard on me, since it was a company I once held in high esteem. They are responsible for the transistor, for one thing, and their technical research and development was peerless.)

The ones that bug me in particular lately are the “so 30 seconds ago” commercials that suggest you’re a loser if you’re not getting the most instantaneous updates possible. Last time I mentioned the flash mob commercial, which expresses the same idea. Apparently AT&T can’t find anything that actually makes their service better (and friends tell me it isn’t; that the coverage is not good). Here’s the offender in question:

On the topic of cell phones and men who don’t deserve their ladies, AT&T has another entry on my list. This is the one where a guy having dinner out with his lady can’t resist using his cell phone to watch a football game. Here again, the value system is seriously messed up. Per the commercial, it seems things are tense between them already. So the choice is one nice evening in a nice restaurant with a nice lady versus one football game.  Here it is:

If you are such a pathetic piece of shit you can’t give up one football game in real-time, you don’t deserve love or a relationship of any kind. More to the point, why would I identify with such a lying creep? If this is an AT&T customer, then count me out.

I do kind of like the speed-dating one; it’s cute, and she’s clever (and he’s a complete idiot). Props.

And speaking of commercials I also like, the McDonald’s one featuring a guy and a gal on a park bench where she’s asking if she can have a fry. (Can’t find an image or a video of that, which seems… odd.) He pretends he can’t hear in that ear, so she moves to the other side and asks again. This time he says, “No.” I love the look on her face.

 That commercial always makes me smile, and I have to admit, Micky D’s french fries are awfully tasty. Being offensive or stupid just isn’t necessary to sell products.