Yesterday I wrote about a TV commercial with a bit of a design flaw (and, yet, without that flaw the commercial wouldn’t work). I generally go to great lengths to avoid having to see television commercials, but sadly one cannot avoid all of them. Still, as a former TV and film student, they fascinate me as much as they annoy me.
Advertisers have under a minute to tell you a story that pushes their product. Some are straight-forward about it, others are more oblique. (Generally, the more real substance a product offers, the greater the chance the commercial is straight-forward.) Some commercials can be real works of art. One of these days I’ll write about some that I find very striking.
Today I want to talk about Toyota Jan. And Bacon.
If you watch TV, you’ve probably seen Toyota Jan. She made her first appearance for Toyota in the lie detector commercial.
In that one, she’s using a lie detector to grill a Toyota salesman, because she can’t believe Toyota cost less but have more features.
At one point, to verify the correct operation of the lie detector, she asks the salesman if he’s, “uncontrollably attracted to her.”
The salesman uncomfortably denies it, and—of course—the lie detector goes bananas.
I always wanted to reply, “Well, not uncontrollably…”
[She is a brunette (which I favor), and she has facial features that I find very appealing (I’m into faces, in part due to life-long hearing issues and some acquired lip-reading ability). More to the point, she somehow sparkles on screen; she has one of those 1000-watt personalities that just draw you to her. She’s mouthing the writer’s words, so unfortunately it’s impossible to gauge her intelligence (much more important than hair color or facial features). Bebe Neuwirth‘s Lilith Sternin fooled me that way… then I saw her on Letterman… she seemed a bit of an airhead!]
Lately they’ve had Toyota Jan stuck behind a reception desk dealing with various kinds of customers. I haven’t really enjoyed those commercials.
The one with the couple and the baby who picks the car I find the most annoying (although I like her reading of the line about how they have the radio, “Oh, we have that!”).
It’s in these commercials that we learn her name is Jan. (“Hi, I’m Jan!”)
In fact, the actress is Laurel Coppock, and she has a fairly substantial work history. (But no Wiki page, yet!)
She’s ‘a main company member of The Groundlings in Los Angeles,’ and she’s made appearances in Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office and many others.
She also has a part in Crazy, Stupid Love, a film I’ve been intending to see (and now definitely will). She’s even got a writing credit, which speaks well to her intelligence and capability.
This has all been context. The real point is the third series of commercials (so far there is only one in the series). I really liked the lie detector commercial.
Even after seeing it many times, it was still reasonably painless to watch (her facial expressions were fun, and I liked the sly attitude). As I said, I’m not big on the second series, the car dealership customers series.
In this third version they’ve gone completely conventional (read: boring, boring, boring).
This last commercial is just a really basic car commercial. Shots of cars driving around along with the strong saves mucho gas message.
And at long last we come to my point.
The commercial starts with “Jan” (dull face-on shot) telling us that, “Toyota can take you far… while costing you far less.”
(I’m guessing some young ad writer thought it would be totally awesome to use the same word twice in contrast like that.)
I was going to complain about that use of “far,” since it usually refers to distance, not amount.
Turns out that, as an adjective, that’s true. But as an adverb, it can be used for comparison.
So, I learned something, which is always nice. And I don’t have to diss “Jan” for bad grammar. (My small crush remains unsullied by incorrect use of language! (Yes, it matters. (To me, anyway.)))
But the commercials are increasingly boring. They seem to be focusing on the cars or something.
And I still have hugely mixed feelings when it comes to Camrays.
There’s a burger commercial that ties in to the new Superman movie. (Carl’s Jr., which used to be my favorite fast food chain when I lived in Los Angeles.)
In the commercial, I’m told that, in Metropolis construction workers get three times the work (due to all the Superman-based destruction—having superheroes in your city is a bit like having regular visits from Gojira).
Therefore, logically speaking, they eat three times the bacon.
As syllogisms go,… WTF?
The repetition (like the far/far above) is cute. Three times the work; three times the bacon.
But the logic really stinks. Really, the only logical connection is: three times the bacon—generally speaking—means three times the heart attacks.
Don’t get me wrong here: I love bacon. I can almost do that cartoon trick of letting the scent of cooking bacon pick up and waft me along by the nose to the source.
On our camping trips, my buddy and I usually split a pound of bacon for breakfast.
I love the stuff. But I don’t wear bacon cologne or buy bacon-themed clothes, and I certainly have no plans to be buried in a coffin painted to look like bacon.
(I’m not sure if that coffin was a joke or serious. I want to believe it was a joke. Or perhaps it was morbidly appropriate. “We buried him in what killed him!”)
I love the stuff, but I don’t get being fannish about meat. (But then I can’t fathom many of the things people get fannish about.) I suppose bacon has a Facebore page and a TWIT’r account.
Maybe it’s just me. I don’t even go for autographs (although I happen to have Emmylou Harris‘—long story). I just don’t see the value in being one of the hundreds of autographs they gave. Today.
I was in the same room once with Neil Diamond (along with 60 other people), but it meant nothing (pity, too, since I was big fan at the time). He had a solid ring of people, about three deep, surrounding him, so I couldn’t even get close.
It’s like it never happened; I had a better view of him earlier when he was on stage.
But do you think he remembers some guy he met in passing in an airport? I doubt he even remembers the occasion. (Well, he’s dead now, so of course he’s not remembering much of anything.)
And again, I’m sure it meant nothing to her (while I remember all these things years later).
My fantasies involve having the chance spend time with certain famous people. Enough time that they would remember me, get to know me (maybe even like me).
Anything short of that, what’s the point?
My list is very small. Most famous people don’t interest me too much. The work supersedes the artist.
How about you? Who’s on your lists?