Friday, September 30, 2011

Viagra Ad Idea with President Obama Quote

This week, President Obama said that America has “gotten a little soft”. Well, I was thinking that a great ad for Viagra would be for them to play the video clip of President Obama saying that quote, and then they could have the announcer say: “America’s gone soft? Mr. President, we can help fix that problem!” Then they cut to a splash screen of the Viagra package, and the announcer says: “Viagra: making America hard again!” And then footage of an American flag waving in the wind fades up behind the Viagra package on the screen.

Wouldn’t that be a fun ad?

Here’s the video clip of President Obama’s “soft” quote:

SPDR Mosaic “Missing Piece” Ad: A Suggestion

I just saw that SPDR Mosaic commercial again where the rich lady smashes a plate and then takes a piece of it into a museum and vandalizes a priceless mosaic with it. (A link to view this ad is at the bottom of this post.) I had plenty to say about this spot before*, because as it is, it completely rubs me the wrong way; but I just realized that there’s a way for this idea to work really well, if they just changed a couple of little things in it. I didn’t see it before because the ad itself is so full of problems that it completely sends the wrong message, and it simply blew my mind, so to speak. But on reassessment, I think it could be fixed.

Okay, here’s how to fix this ad: Rather than have the lady smash the plate with a hammer, have her accidentally drop the plate. When the plate smashes, she looks down at the broken pieces, is upset about it, but then she sees something that has caught her eye, and she looks intrigued. Then she bends down, has a eureka moment, and picks up a shard of the broken plate. This broken piece she takes into her living room, which she then proceeds to place into the space left by a missing piece of a mosaic of hers that’s on her own living room wall. The new shard fits perfectly into the empty space left by the originally missing piece, and performing this action makes her mosaic whole again. (But don’t show a maid in the house who has to clean the shattered plate up. Just skirt that issue completely, or else have her husband clean it up for her.)

See the difference? This shows that she’s found an important missing piece, etc., but that she’s not breaking the law, defacing museum property, intentionally smashing valuable dishes, forcing servants to clean up after her when she smashes stuff on purpose, etc. So this sends all the messages the original ad was intending to send, but without all the problems I wrote about earlier.

* Here is my original post about this spot, detailing everything I think is wrong with it:

And here’s the actual commercial:

Pharmaceutical Side Effects in Ads

On some late night comedy program I was watching recently, some guest made a joke about how pharmaceutical commercials are 5 seconds about the drugs, and 25 seconds about the side effects. And that’s when it hit me: they tell us about some adverse potential side effects in the commercials (because they have to by law), but they never make a virtue of necessity by then telling us why we might actually want those side effects by showing us the bright side of having them happen to us. So they could be selling us on the drugs and the side effects at the same time! So it would be doubly effective!

Here’s an example of what I mean: Let’s say that a drug makes you impotent, just for the sake of argument (because this is what the guy on the show said as his example). Then, after saying that you might get erectile dysfunction, the ad says: “but that’s good, because without erectile dysfunction, you probably would have caught some incurable venereal disease like herpes anyway, or else you would have gotten some woman pregnant and been sued for paternity and ended up paying child support for the rest of your life! So even the potential side effects of this drug protect you from harm! You should buy it!”

But that’s just one example. Say something gives you shortness of breath. Then they could say that it’s a good thing because now you can get other people to carry all of your stuff for you, and you'll have an excuse for never having to do anything you don’t want to do, etc., because you have shortness of breath! And they could hire PR people to spin all of the side effects positively like this all the way down the line. I think this is the best chance to expand their sales! Don’t you think so?

Flip Flop Political Ad Song Idea

Calling politicians “flip-floppers” is as tried and true of a tradition as there is in politics. That’s why it’s odd that there’s no song that makes fun of them in political ads. Well, I’m here to change all that, with my new flip-flopper song for political ads! I’ll use Mitt Romney as the example here for the sake of demonstration, since Rick Perry’s campaign is currently running a series of commercials bashing Romney for his flip-floppery, and using Romney’s own words to prove the claims. Now that’s all fun and stuff, but wouldn’t it be more fun with a song making fun of Mitt Romney for being a flip-flopper?

Well I think so! That’s why I wrote this little ditty! Imagine if you will an ad by the Perry campaign attacking Mitt Romney that opened with the following song:

(To the tune of “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”):

Here comes flippy-floppy tail,
Flipping down that floppy trail,
Flippity, floppity, Romney’s on his way!

Then they could show a freshly caught fish flip-flopping all over the deck of a boat (or on a stage in front of a microphone), but with Mitt Romney’s face Photoshopped onto the fish. Then they could run the quotes after the song, and continue to show the fish flip-flopping around in slow motion that gets progressively slower and slower.

Wouldn’t that be a fun attack ad?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rick Perry Border Ad

In the last debate, Rick Perry said that if anyone doesn’t support his policy of giving in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants, “I don’t think you have a heart.” Well, this didn’t sit well with conservatives who oppose illegal immigration, and it has cost Perry in the recent polls: he’s no longer the front runner. He’s sent people around all the news shows lately to tell everyone how nobody is tougher on illegal immigration than Rick Perry, and that nobody has done more to defend the border then Rick Perry, but still this may not be enough.

But I think I know how he could win back that conservative support: through a new TV ad that shows how tough he is on both illegal immigration and border security at the same time! How could he do it, you might well ask? Well, it’s simple! This is what that commercial would look like:

The setting is the desert along the Texas/Mexico border. The border is painted as a line across the dirt, and it says “America” on one side of the line, and “Mexico” on the other side. Along that line stand a line of about 10 to 12 Mexicans dressed as illegal immigrant migrant worker types, and they all stand just on the American side of the border line. So then Rick Perry walks into frame and says (in that great Texas drawl): “I’m Rick Perry, and this is my border policy!” Then he walks down the line of Mexicans, pushing each one, one after the other, across the border line on the ground and into Mexico, with each one of them landing on their butt on the Mexican side of the border line. Then Perry turns toward the camera, he’s given a close-up, and he says: “I’ll secure the border, and I’ll get rid of all them ill-legal immigrants! And if you don’t vote for me, I don’t think you have a brain!”

See? It can’t miss! If he does that, he’s practically elected already!

Not Scary Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm is currently advertising their yearly Halloween enterprise. The only problem is, with it called: “Knott’s Scary Farm”, it sounds like: “Not Scary Farm” when they say it; and they say it a bunch of times. I don't think anyone is going to want to go to “Not Scary Farm” for Halloween scares! But hey: maybe that makes it more kid-friendly for families! After all, you don’t want your children having nightmares, do you? (Okay, well, maybe you do, but most people probably don't.)

Here’s the “Not Scary Farm” commercial:

Worst Album Covers

Some guy writing a music blog for Yahoo! misses the mark again with his list of the worst album covers of all time. Some of them are, for sure, bad. But the further down the list you go toward #1, the more you realize he’s missing some of the worst ones ever. Maybe he’s never seen them, but still, how could you miss this one?:

But I guess he did get a few, so I guess that’s better than nothing. A lot of the ones he listed are pretty bad. But Autograph was robbed for not being #1, and not even to be on the list? That’s a crime! I mean, how can you miss putting a big saggy-boobed chrome sexpot lady robot on that list? It’s just wrong: wrong, I tells ya’!

Here’s the list:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Margarine Fingers

Margarine Fingers, etc.: How Mandating Appropriate Language Will Make Us All Healthier

The war on obesity isn’t working. The government has tried banning French fries, hamburgers, and anything else that tastes good from school lunches; as well as banning soda machines from campuses, and sending FDA agents into children’s homes to bust them for eating Hostess Cupcakes and Ho Hos, and to confiscate such items to prevent kids from being corrupted by their moist, cream-filled goodness. Once these things have their evil talons in the bulging, fatty flesh of our youth, they’re lost to us forever!

That’s why we have to do more than simply ban everything that tastes good! After all, if we get rid of the food but leave our language the same, they’ll still be tempted by fattening idioms that will get them craving sweets and fatty foods just as much as seeing or smelling them would do! Just think about it: the language we use has consequences! And we can’t simply trust people to say the right thing anymore: this is an epidemic!

Just think about some of our idiomatic expressions, like: “butter fingers”, for example. That is a very fattening way of saying that someone drops or loses things easily! Plus, it’s high in suggested cholesterol, so it’s theoretically bad for your heart as well! That’s a risk we simply can no longer take, especially with spiraling health-care costs! That’s why I propose we mandate the use of healthier idiomatic expressions to replace these evil and antiquated ones. So rather than saying: “butter fingers”, we should (be forced by new government regulations to) say: “margarine fingers”. See? That sounds much healthier already! And you could even make it yet healthier still by saying: “Omega-3-fortified, low-saturated-fat margarine fingers”.

Then we’ll have to change other dangerous and insidiously pernicious expressions like: “sweet tooth” to something much healthier sounding, like: “tofu tooth”; and the naughtily luring: “eye candy” to something more acceptable, like: “eye vegetables”. Oh, and the criminally misleading term: "sweeten the deal" will have to be altered to: "get more fiber in the deal". Plus, the overly fattening expression: “the cream of the crop” must be changed to the beneficial regularity of: “the bran of the bunch”.

Also, saying something like: “everything’s sunshine and lollipops” should be modified to: “everything’s SPF-30 and 100% natural juice pops”. And, of course, the substantive expression: “where’s the beef?” will have to be replaced with the more politically correct: “where are the tomatoes?”, while the qualitative expression: “the cream rises to the top” will have to be updated with the snappy: “the skim proves to be healthier”. And the expression: "sweet", meaning "good", is to be banned completely: that might give people the idea that sweet-tasting stuff is good! (But the term: "salad days" can stay as it is; that's got the right idea already!)

And I hate to be the one to say it, but some texts will have to be altered as well, just to keep everything speaking with one voice. So the corruption of something even as innocuous-seeming as Shakespeare will have to be corrected. So, for example, it will be mandatory for the government to edit the bad example from Romeo and Juliet of: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” to the much more agreeable and healthy-sounding: “A rose by any other name would still smell the same”. See how much better of an example that is for our children? (I'm on to that Shakespeare guy! He's always trying to make people crave candy with his purple prose! He probably owned stock in Herhsey's and Godiva!)

This is just a brief and partial list. But the sooner we implement this new law, the healthier all of our children will be. And since the health (and so the very lives) of our children, and hence the future of our nation, is at stake here, I suggest that once the new list of terms is drawn up, we should make the punishment for using an unhealthy-sounding term rather than its new replacement be as severe as possible: death by chocolate.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Aviva Life Insurance Paper People Ad

Aviva complains in this commercial that life insurance companies always just assign people with a number, rather than getting to know you as a person. Well, maybe they think that’s a problem, but I’d rather just get a number, so long as they actually pay off on the policy if they’re required to do so (which, since it’s life insurance, I’d probably never know about anyway, so who cares?). And that’s because I’m constantly being hassled by insurance companies trying to come over and hang out at my house. They always say they’re just there to try to get to know me as a person, but they’re always just using my computer to look at porn, playing with my stereo, playing video games on my home entertainment system, and eating all my food and drinking all my booze! And they always call and show up at the worst possible times, too! I’ve had to just stop answering the door and the phone after awhile, since it was always some life insurance company wanting to come over and hang out. You just never get rid of them once you let them into your life! So after all that, I find it refreshing to finally get the impersonal touch of being assigned a number and being left alone! (Yay, privacy! It seems we never get any from businesses marketing to us anymore!)

But I like the flat paper people in this spot, though. It’s an image that follows you in your thoughts later on, and it works well with the idea of people just being ‘information’ or ‘a number’. I’ve seen this idea used in movies, too, like In the Mouth of Madness, and the Masters of Horror episode: Valerie on the Stairs, but it’s well used for a new purpose here. (Maybe they could make a slasher movie about these paper people where the killer uses a pair of scissors to cut everyone to ribbons!)

Here’s the personally propagandizing paper people ad:

Cigna’s Gorgeous “Go You” Ad

Every once in a while, something comes along with just the right choice of models, costumes, art direction, location scouting, photography, and concept to make you really sit up and take notice, if not actually cheer. Such is the case with the spot I just saw for Cigna. I think they’re healthcare or something (?). I don’t know what they are, which is maybe a problem with this ad? They don’t bother to tell us. But who cares, because it’s just so great of a work of art on film! It's like a really great music video. (The music could be better, though. Something by the band Mellow, perhaps? {They did the music for the movie CQ, which has another beautiful girl in a space suit in it, so maybe that's why I thought of them.})

The idea is that everyone still has a part of that idealistic dreamer of a kid inside themselves, and they show it beautifully, with everyone walking around dressed up as what they dreamed of being when they were little kids! (I’m pretty sure that was the idea.) Yes, my space helmet’s off to the team of creatives who made this happen! Awesome. Just awesome!

But what is it they’re selling again? (Maybe this is one of those subliminal ads! Help, I'm being mind-controlled into buying stuff I don't want or need! {Actually, never mind: isn't that what all advertising tries to do all the time anyway?})

Here’s the spectacular spot:

Andy Rooney

I’m disappointed that we’re losing the best thing on 60 Minutes: Andy Rooney’s fun commentary at the end. I’ve always loved his little editorials, and I was hoping he’d just live forever and keep presenting them at the end of every show ad infinitum. We all know the government has that anti-aging stuff that makes people live forever, so why not give it to Andy Rooney? (Of course government officials can’t use it: we’d all know about it then! Or do they use it and simply dye their hair with more and more gray over time? Maybe they’re doing that! Murderers, hogging it all for themselves! Let’s vote them all out for denying us all the fountain of youth we all deserve! Where was I again? Oh, right: Andy Rooney!) After all, he never really criticizes the government much, so he’s not really a threat except to shoe designers, or whatever thing he’s ridiculing at the time. And even then, he's too old and nerdy to actually skew the market in any measurable way.

I think he was the TV version of Art Buchwald, basically, only less political. But he was always really funny. I think Jeannie Moos is trying to keep the spirit of his work going on with her fun reports on CNN. She’s the best thing on CNN, just like Andy Rooney was the best thing on CBS News. He had a quality of delivery and a way of looking at things that made me think of the comic strip The Far Side: always a zany new take on the everyday. I’ll miss him more than most anything I’ve ever lost. But there were years where I didn’t even get to see his stuff, so maybe I can go back and see his old reports and it will give me my wacky/geeky fix, so it will be easier to take.

Thanks for all the laughs and the levity, Andy! You really did something with your life! In a world of bad news, you always gave us something to smile about. And sometimes, that’s the greatest gift of all!

Here’s the story:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Nationwide Destroyed Home Ad

A family surveys the complete destruction of their home in this commercial for Nationwide Insurance. They stand there, looking around, getting choked up at the absolute destruction of their home and property, and then we see that there’s another guy there with them: he’s a Nationwide insurance agent, and he says: “We’ll help you make things right”, or something to that effect, scamming them into believing that an insurance company will actually follow through on their obligation, rather than have their army of lawyers find every possible way for them to weasel their way out of paying them anything for their legitimate claim, like a real insurance company might more realistically behave in real life. Ah, the misleading nature of insurance advertisements!

What I would have loved to see in this ad would have been to have the family seem upset, but to have the Nationwide representative get so emotionally distraught, that the homeowners end up comforting him. So the insurance guy is crying and sobbing and whining because he’s going to get in trouble for making the insurance company pay off on a claim for a change, and he seems so devastated and abject in his behavior, the homeowners comfort him and end up agreeing not to submit a claim after all, since they don’t want to get him in trouble. So they say they’ll get by somehow, and they’ve always worked through the hard times before, so they’ll make it this time too, yadda yadda. So the crying insurance agent leaves, crying as he drives away. But then, just as he gets out of sight of the homeowners who have lost everything, his crying turns to evil, maniacal laughter, as he gloats triumphantly over how he’s managed to cheat another policyholder, and how he’s the best scumbag welcher there is, and how he’s sure to get a huge bonus for sparing the company from this whopper of a legitimate payout. That’s how insurance companies work in real life, so it would be nice to see them shown honestly for a change.

But maybe it wouldn’t be subterfuge and total dishonesty like that. Maybe I’m being unfair to insurance companies with my silly parody of their ad. Perhaps the true version of this ad would have the insurance agent be completely honest with this couple and say: “This looks really bad, but all the same, I’ll work hard to find every loophole possible to avoid paying even one cent more than we legally have to. So you’ll get something, but it won’t be much, and it will be far less than your policy leads you to believe you ought to be getting. But don’t blame me; I’m just doing my job!” In any case, it’s been my experience, and that of everyone I know, that when it’s time to pay them, insurance companies are very insistent that you pay them the full amount on time (or else!); but when it’s time for them to pay you, well, there are all kinds of reasons and excuses for why they don’t have to. Oh, and if they do pay you, they drag it out forever so that it doesn’t end up helping you when you need it anyway. It’s a big scam, the insurance business; or at least it feels like one sometimes. But hey: they’ve got to pay those huge executive salaries, bonuses, and golden parachutes somehow! After all, it’s only fair that rich people should get richer off of regular people for nothing. I mean, right?

But this is just a joke, and I’m not trying to smear or slander Nationwide insurance. After all, maybe they’re the 100% reliable and honest company, and it’s all the others that give the insurance business a bad name. I don’t know much about Nationwide because I don’t have insurance with them, so for all I know, they could be completely honest and dependable. But then again, they are an insurance company, so maybe not.

Here’s the ad:

Christopher Lee for Masterpiece Mystery Host, Please!

I’m not trying to insult Alan Cumming or anything, but I really think the host of Masterpiece Mystery ought to be Christopher Lee. The first one was Vincent Price, right? Well, Christopher Lee made a lot of mystery and horror movies like Vincent Price, so he’s very appropriate for being the host of a mystery series; plus he’s British, and Masterpiece Mystery is a British program(me). And as a classic actor from many classic movies, he seems far more appropriate for classic mysteries like those by Agatha Christie. But look: he’s really getting old, and I think they should offer it to him while they still can. Once he’s gone, he’s gone, and it will be too late. So come on PBS: can’t you hear that wonderfully resonating stiff British baritone commanding our attention for each new mystery show? I’d tune in just to see him, and I doubt I’d be alone!

Rock You Like A Herman Cain!

Now that Herman Cain has won the Florida Straw Poll and is beginning to pick up some steam, he needs a big flashy ad campaign to promote his new momentum. There’s the obvious stuff like “Raising Cain”, and “Cain is Able”, but how about something new? I say he should have a cover made of the Scorpions’ song: “Rock You Like A Hurricane”, but with it changed to: “Rock You Like A Herman Cain”. They could have him sing it in all that skin-tight spandex stuff like the Scorpions used to wear: it would be great! They could even give him a big hair-metal wig! The main lyrics could be something like:

Here I am: I’ll rock you like I’m Herman Cain!

If he does that, he’ll be the next president for sure! It’s a can’t-miss smash-hit song for the recession generation!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Don’t Talk About Football

We all watch football games, but many of us probably don’t realize that the official legal policy of the NFL is that nobody’s allowed to talk about the games without their (the NFL’s) previous written approval. Or at least, that’s what they say during the games. No, really: they say you can’t rebroadcast them and stuff, but then they say you can’t even give any verbal accounts of the games either, which means that you’re not even allowed to talk about it at all. I’m not even kidding about this. If you don’t believe me, then listen for the legal disclaimer during the next game: that’s the actual policy: you’re not allowed to talk about it: Period. (Unless you get prior written approval first! And how could you possibly get that, as a fan?)

So that means we’re not allowed to talk about the game at work the next day around the water cooler: if you see or hear anyone doing it, call 911! That’s against the law, man! It’s like Fight Club: the rule is, you don’t talk about football! (Unless you ask the NFL first if it’s OK!)

So this raises an issue with me. Some business entity (any business entity) thinks that they have the right to muzzle us all about their product? So we’re not allowed to say anything about it at all? That’s absurd! I can see a federal judge giving someone a gag order because certain information might in some way damage an important legal case, or prejudice the jury against a defendant; but the idea that a televised sport has the same authority to place a gag order upon everyone is just ludicrous! Maybe they ought to have this restriction included in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution: "Freedom of speech, except about football games: you’re not allowed to talk about them". What a bunch of egomaniac jerks at the NFL! (But they’re big, so please don’t tell them I said this. Actually, it’s not the players who are to blame here, it's the NFL's lawyers: and they probably aren’t big, except in their own minds.)

But if we actually did what they’re legally requiring of us (i.e.: ask for permission to be able to talk about the games), we’d end up giving the NFL a legal request version of a “denial of service attack” (that’s when hackers overload a website with requests, so I’m told), where everyone would end up calling and writing in all at once to ask if we can talk about the game at work, or in our carpools, etc. (BTW: I’m not suggesting that we try to do this to the NFL {This whole article is just a joke.}; but if we all called to ask for permission at the same time like they seem to want us to have to do, maybe they’d see how dumb their restrictions are, and they’d drop the stupid part. Because, seriously: the way it’s currently worded, nobody’s allowed to talk about the game at work at all {they say we're not allowed to make any verbal descriptions of the game without prior written approval from the NFL! For real: they say that. Maybe not in those exact words, but that’s the gist of it.}, which is probably why at least 1/3 of office workers watch it in the first place: so they have something to talk to their co-workers about at work! {Or to brown-nose the boss, if he/she likes football.}) Maybe if we all did it, they’d drop the ridiculously overbearing language of their legal disclaimer which makes it sound like we’ll get hard prison time for talking about the previous day’s game with our friends. Otherwise, we’ll all be stuck saying stuff like this:

Football Fan #1: Hey man, did you see the game last night?

Football Fan #2: Yes! Man, it was, um… well, you know.”

Football Fan #1: Yeah, it was totally, um, you know…

Football Fan #2: I know! It was.

That’s what they are legally demanding of us with their blanket TV legal announcements. They might as well just say it: The first rule of NFL Football is, you don’t talk about NFL Football. The second rule of NFL Football is, (ditto). (Like with Fight Club.)

So that means that, literally, if you say to someone in a cab: “Did you see that kickoff return for 99 yards?”, the cab driver could be an undercover NFL operative waiting to bust you! And I’ll bet they’ve even got Dick Butkus and William “The Refrigerator” Perry in the trunk waiting to tackle you when you try to get out of the cab! Hey you never know! From the way they word it, it could be true!

I’ll bet there is a similar legal terms statement written on the tickets for people who go see the game, too. So if you go to the game, you can’t discuss it with people as you’re leaving the stadium. In fact, I’ll bet that technically, as the legal boilerplate “contract” is written, if your friend goes to the bathroom during the game, and then they come back and ask you what they missed, according to the rules as written, you’re not allowed to tell them. And if someone catches you, they could probably throw you out of the game. To me, this whole idea is simply ridiculous. Plus, since everyone is always talking about the games already anyway, they are training us to break their legal rules all the time, so when a bigger violation presents itself, most people will probably just go ahead and do that too, just because we’re so used to doing it, and because of how annoyed we all are with their overbearing policy.

I can see them maybe wanting permission before you write something for money about a game whereby your written account makes people not want to bother watching the game, but I can’t see where that would happen nowadays anyway. Plus, any time anybody talks or writes about a game, that’s free advertising for the NFL! I mean, I understand that as the biggest sport in America, they hardly need it, but still: why try to kill a good thing? This overbearing legal policy seems to me to be the kind of punitive behavior that could turn people off and away from NFL football, like when Major League Baseball sued little league teams for using similar team names to the pro teams. (Yes, they did that: punishing kids for playing baseball and giving pro teams free advertising; or that’s probably how it seemed to the kids. Was it Sarah Silverman who said the thing about something being like a kid being raped by Santa Claus? Well, for a little boy, being sued by Major League Baseball is like that.)

Here’s a couple of articles about the MLB suing little league (The first one is about Stephen Colbert making fun of it, and the second one mentions how the MLB is ludicrously overbearing in their legal claims of ownership of all conversations related to baseball games.):

Now, I have no idea why the NFL feels like they have to make such an absurdly controlling legal contract demand with all their game broadcasts. Soccer games don’t have the same statement when you watch those games. Plus, in this internet & smartphone & YouTube age, where everybody is always sending everyone else unlicensed video clips, it seems like this kind of policy is extremely outdated; but still, they have it with every game. I know there’s no point to extend the policy to try to keep people from talking about the games amongst themselves, but I think I know why they do it. Just consider this for a moment if you will: The NFL’s lawyers are probably little nerdy guys who watch enviously while huge, strong, muscular guys smear each other into the ground, etc., every week, and it makes them jealous of that power. So then these lawyers decide they’re going to try to intimidate the viewing audience through legal jargon in the same way the football players do with their physical presence. Do you see what I’m getting at here? It’s like a mid-life-crisis-mobile car for a fat, bald, 50-year-old: it’s overcompensating for something lacking in the lawyers’ lives or self-esteem. This is the only way this makes sense at all.

I’m sorry, but I don’t have the patience to try to find exactly the NFL legal quote I’m looking for (just listen for it during the next game on TV!), but if you have any doubts about their legal overkill, then look at this (It’s the terms of service for the NFL cable deal, and it’s very long and detailed!):

Audi A4 Car Carrier Ad

Audis are so great, people can’t even wait for them to show up at the dealerships! No, really: people are jumping onto the car carrier transport truck and climbing into the cars while they’re still on the road being delivered! And there’s so many of them doing it, there’s already someone else in the car they want when they get into it! Wow!

Or at least that’s what we’re supposed to think when we see this commercial. But I can’t help but think of other things when I see this spot. Like, for example, there’s the issue of the guy who climbs out of his BMW and onto the car carrier: he just puts his car into cruise control, opens the sun roof, and climbs out of his car, leaving it speeding down a crowded highway with no-one driving it. Isn’t this going to recklessly kill other motorists? And if Audi is building cars that are so irresistible that people can’t help themselves from doing reckless and depraved things like this to get one, and they’re still transporting them out in the open on the busy freeways where everyone can see them, aren’t they guilty of murder, or at least reckless endangerment and depraved indifference? (But in a capitalist economy, I’m sure the government will look the other way for a few campaign contributions.)

So when I see this ad, it makes me wonder why this guy in the BMW is willing to climb out of his car just to jump onto the truck. After all, for all he knows, these cars might be sold already, and his BMW is going to smash and kill people, so why not simply drive to the Audi dealership and drive over the salesmen and steal the Audi from there? I mean, if he’s going to kill people with his car anyway, why not at least go to where he can be sure he can get an Audi and drive it away? (It’s chained down to the car carrier anyway, so it’s not like he can just drive it off once he gets into it, right?)

Plus, there’s the issue of his BMW: aren’t the police going to be able to trace the car back to him, and won’t there be witnesses to say it was him who climbed out of it? So if he just did the thing at the Audi dealership, maybe he could leave no witnesses and then just say somebody must have stolen his car. Oh, and then that same person must have stolen the Audi from the dealership too and left it in his driveway just to incriminate him or something. That’s what I’d say. It might work, too, if he’s some executive jerk who got lots of people fired, or if he’s a banker who lost people’s investments, or got lots pf people foreclosed on; then it would make sense that someone is trying to frame him. Or maybe he’s just a greedy sociopath, so they’ll just figure he did it anyway.

Oh, but you know what this ad may be showing, but we just haven’t figured it out yet? Maybe this guy in the BMW has stolen it, and he’s trying to get away. But let’s say he also knows that the guy whose car it is has called the cops, and they’re out looking for him. Then he might climb out onto the truck to try to escape and hide in one of the Audis, right? And then if he just leaves the BMW he stole to careen out of control on the freeway, maybe it will wipe out all the witnesses, or at least hurt enough people and tie up traffic and the police for long enough that he can escape! And maybe the Audi dealership is actually a front for some criminal enterprise, so they arranged the whole thing!

In fact, maybe the guy actually works for some corrupt Audi dealership owned by a mob guy who is trying to put all his competition out of business! So then the mob guy sends the guy out to steal the BMW from a rival dealership, drive it out on the highway, climb out onto the truck, and leave it to wreck everyone on the highway so BMW looks bad, too! And maybe even the BMW dealer is tied up in the car to rub him out and also make him look guilty for the big accident when the BMW goes out of control! And so when the guy then gets into the Audi, and there’s already another guy in it, that just means that it’s another guy working for the mob who stole and wrecked another competitor’s car earlier (maybe a Lexus this time)!

So what do you think: does it sound plausible? It certainly makes me think more of stuff like that when I see this ad than it makes me think good things about Audi! Because look: the very least that could be going on here is that people are leaving their unattended cars whizzing down the freeway to kill unsuspecting fellow travelers. Now is that any way to try to make your brand look good?

Here’s the catastrophically out-of-control commercial:

Lexus Skid & Smash Ad

A new spot for Lexus says that the average person will own X-number of cars in their lifetime, etc., and then poses the question: “Which one will you remember?” That’s all fine, but what they show during the commercial is a little bit problematic. What’s wrong with it? Let’s take a look!

So, this spot shows a series of backdrops, one at a time (for example: the first backdrop shows a house, garage and driveway, with the outline of a car, but with a white blank space for where the car would be), with each one having an outline of a car shape on it. Then, the Lexus comes careening towards this backdrop, skidding and slamming on its brakes, and the car goes apparently out of control and smashes through the backdrop right in the shape of the car. They show the car crashing through the back of the backdrop, and pieces of lumber being shattered, etc., and we get to see the whole backdrop again with the hole smashed through it. Then they do the same thing again with a new backdrop, where the car skids and crashes through the car shape in that one, and then again and again a couple more times (!).

I think the idea is that this car is so dynamic, it’s “breaking out of the box” or something; or that you can’t fence it in, or keep it contained in a picture: whatever. That might seem like a good idea in theory, but from the way it is being shot and edited, it simply looks like the driver has lost control of the car and accidentally smashes through the scenery. Then, by doing it again and again, it makes it seem like they’re trying it again and again in an attempt to get it to work, but the car is just too unstable and unreliable in its handling and braking system to be able to do it properly. So it ends up looking like the car has crappy brakes that fail, that it handles badly, and that the driver loses control of the vehicle way too easily. Is that what they’re trying to tell us here: that the car is dangerous and hard to control? If so, then great job! If not, then oops!

I can’t find this ad up on the internet yet, but you’ll know it when you see it! See if it doesn’t have the same “yikes!” factor for you too, where you end up worrying about the handling capabilities of the car, and the safety of the driver in the ad! That’s what it made me think of, mostly. Oh, and also about how it was crazy to advertise a car as careening out of control and smashing into everything like this. But maybe the car really is dangerous and difficult to drive, and they’re just giving us fair warning about it by showing us, since they don’t want to have to come out and say it. I guess you never know.

There are lots and lots of car commercials where they show the cars they’re trying to sell us skidding all over the place and spinning all out of control and stuff. Maybe the people who made this ad thought it was ridiculous to always have cars skidding around all over the place and never hitting anything, so they thought they would make up for that oversight with this new Lexus ad. After all, in the real world, if you go skidding or spinning out in your car, you hit stuff, and showing cars always being able to get away with careening out of control and not hitting anything is extremely irresponsible because it might encourage others to try it themselves, causing lots and lots of damage to lives and property. That’s the only reason I can think of for why they might have made it like this, and it might end up being a positive thing somehow. Because if that’s not why they did it, then it just ends up looking like the car is a hazardous piece of crap that you will wreck into everything around you every time you try to drive it. Because after all, that’s what they are showing us repeatedly happening with their car in this commercial.

Squeal…Skid…Smash! (Repeat.)

It seems to me that this whole idea of the backdrop with the car outline and the car smashing through it could actually work; but that for it to work, they really ought to have the car come driving through from behind, rather than driving up from the front and skid into and smash through the backdrop that way. With the car bursting through from the back, it would indicate this idea of the car bursting forth from within the confines of everyday, or whatever they’re trying to say here. But with it bursting through by accelerating out, rather than skidding in, it would make it look like a positive thing: that is, to burst forth, as opposed to skid and smash into: see what I mean here? Then, after accelerating and bursting through the backdrop, it could skid 90 degrees and stop on a dime in front of the backdrop, and that would indicate that it handles well and has great brakes, in addition to having great acceleration and a forceful character.

I think that’s what they originally intended as the concept, but from the way it’s presented, it looks like the opposite of what people would want from a car (out of control, hazardous and destructive), rather than what might be attractive (forceful, yet nimble, controlled and maneuverable).

I wish I could find this ad to attach a link to it, but hopefully you’ll be able to see it on TV whether you like it or not.

No Strings Attached

There is a fight going on right now in Washington D.C. over a disaster relief bill to fund FEMA, and the issue appears to be that of whether or not there will be strings attached. Apparently, the Republicans want to have strings attached, and the Democrats don’t. But which is the better idea here? Let’s look at the facts!

Okay, so this bill is basically an emergency bill for disaster relief, and as such it will be filled with lots and lots of money. Well, if there are no strings attached, then can’t all of this money just end up going into someone’s pocket where it doesn’t belong? And then we won’t be able to find it. But if there are strings attached to it, then you could just grab onto one of the strings and follow it until you found where the money went, right? And if the money got lost, you could just reel the string in and you’d have all the money back! See how well it would work? So definitely it’s better to have strings attached so you can follow up with it later.

Then there’s the issue that this is a disaster relief bill intended to help people who are in a difficult situation. These people will be unhappy, but with strings attached to the relief bill, we could attach lots of fun ornaments and decorations and stuff to the bill to cheer them up! If we put lots of pretty things on it, and tied smiley faces and puppets to it, it would totally make them smile, I’ll bet. And that will turn their frown upside-down! (Plus, it would create jobs for the people who get to decorate the bill!) You can’t tie pretty ornaments to the bill if there are no strings attached, so it looks like it’s a better idea to have those strings attached for this reason too.

And what else are strings good for? Well, for one thing, kittens and puppies like to play with string, right? So if there are strings attached, then there’s lots and lots of fun for kitties and puppies, and lots of fun for the people who get to watch them play with the string, too! So again we have a situation where it looks like having strings attached is definitely the better idea.

But Democrats don’t want to have strings attached to this bill! Are they trying to make it so they can secretly take the money and nobody will ever find out about it? Don’t they want to be sure it gets to where it’s supposed to go? And wouldn’t they like to make people smile by having pretty decorations on it? Or do they want to prevent job creation for decorators? And I’m sorry to have to mention this, but it’s beginning to look like Democrats hate kittens and puppies! Could it be possible that on top of everything else, they want to make kitties and puppies sad too? Shame on those guys!

Oh, and on top of it all, with strings attached, you could use the strings to hang your laundry out to dry and save all that energy, thus saving the Earth from evil pollution!

Yay, Republicans: they love kittens and puppy dogs, and they’re healing the Earth! See?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

PBS Goldfish Ad

Ah, yes: the PBS Goldfish ad! It must be a few years old, as the YouTube videos were uploaded on 2006 and 2007, but I just saw it for the first time last week when I watched Masterpiece Mystery. So sorry if I’m late to the game here.

Okay, first of all, this looks to have been inspired by the best sequence from Finding Nemo: the one with the Mission: Impossible music, where they devise the escape plan, and we get to see it played out as if it were happening. For me, the rest of the movie was lame compared to that sequence. And that just goes to show you: don’t do something you can’t top too early! But maybe that advice is why so much stuff is lame and boring, so forget I said anything.

But here’s the main point I’d like to make here: Due to the sanitized-nature of the programming on PBS, this goldfish gets the idea that the world outside is all safe and awesome. But my recollection of film of salmon swimming upstream over little waterfalls is that they get grabbed and eaten by bears (!). So for me, the perfect ending for this ad would have been for the goldfish to make it all that way to the river, and to jump up that waterfall, just to get grabbed and eaten by a bear. Ha! There’s reality for you: The ugly truth!

Oh, but if they had had a bear grab it, look at it, and then throw it back for being too small, that would have been realistic enough for me, and I would have cheered it! But I’ve never seen that salmon-jumping-up-the-little-waterfall film before without also seeing the bears grabbing and eating them; have you? And if the goldfish had been thrown back, then that would be revenge against all the mean old salmon that bullied him all along the way up to that point, and it would be a heart-warming coming-of-age tale! But as it is, it’s just an unrealistic claptrap of a hippie fantasy. Something would have eaten that guy, and we all know it!

Here’s the ad I’m talking about:

Foyle’s War

Masterpiece Mystery is one of my favorite shows on television. It runs a bunch of different mystery stuff, mostly old Agatha Christie retreads (my favorite!), but also some other series like Inspector Lewis and Foyle’s War. Foyle’s War is about some guy who’s too old, nerdy, and wimpy for military service (the British military seems to think so, anyway), so he’s a police inspector who solves murders and stuff instead of fighting during WWII. It’s pretty good, but they missed out on something that could have been fun for the viewers.

What they should have done is to have all of the diditers (the ones that “did it”, that is, and so they are the “diditers”) be people who have been arrested by Foyle before for something else, and so when he arrests them for whatever murder or crime, they can say: “Curses, Foyled again!” Then the show could always end the same way, like in Scooby Doo, with the: “And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids and your dumb dog!”

Friday, September 23, 2011

Flintstones Vitamins Goldfish Ad

Yes! The Flintstones vitamins have an ad where the individual vitamins turn into a fish shape and stuff? Um, okay. It just made me think of Goldfish crackers, and then I wondered if they were now fortified with Flintstones brand vitamins or something? Is that why there was that goldfish shape in the ad: cross-promotional dual branding? Oh, but then there’s a kid with a scuba mask and flippers, so then it all makes sense, or something (?). Maybe I should have had the sound on. But you know, most people mute the ads anyway, so maybe you need a new idea so we don’t get confused.

How about this for Flintstones vitamins: A kid eats one, and then he turns into a big strong dinosaur who pushes over trees and stuff, and then they say how strong it makes you and stuff? Seems like it sends the message to me. Or maybe the kid could turn into a T-Rex and eat his parents: what a rebel! Oh, that’s not what they’re looking for? Oh, sorry.

Well, a T-Rex is a meat-eater, after all: what do you expect? I mean, it is prehistoric times, right? Those humans should have known better than to try to raise a T-Rex on their own! Of course it’s going to eat them! It’s not my fault for thinking it up! Jeez, people are so picky sometimes: just because a kid eats his parents in a commercial for kids’ vitamins, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea! (For an ad, that is: maybe kids will see the ad, and wanting to eat their parents, they’ll save up and go buy the vitamins with their own money!)

But all jokes aside, I think if they made an ad for Flintstones brand vitamins where they had a boy take one and then turn into a big T-Rex, it would be very popular with the boys! Then if they showed the boy as a giant T-Rex attacking the city like Godzilla, stepping on tanks, crushing police cars, and toppling buildings, it would probably get a lot of kids (and maybe some adults, like me, for instance!) loving the ad and watching it on YouTube and stuff. And kids might even take the vitamins and act out the commercial with their friends. Maybe not, but I would have with my friends when I was a kid if we had that ad when we were young boys.

Kicking Ass and Taking Names

Encore Action, the pay-cable movie channel, has some promotion running about Jackie Chan where they say he’s always “kicking ass and taking names”. But in the footage in this promo, they only show him kicking ass; they seem to have forgotten all about the taking names part. Maybe he’s got a pen in his pocket or something, but he doesn’t seem use it, or to have anything to write on, either.

So does this mean they think fighting is better than writing? Well, excuse me, but violence isn’t always the answer; and after all, the pen is mightier than the sword! (Or so they always tell me: especially booky nerdy types who can’t fight well.) And isn’t showing all this fighting just serving as a bad example to our children, marinating them in the violent juices of torture and murder? And aren’t they making our world a more heinous and dangerous place where life is cheap, might makes right, and all those similar clich├ęd quotes?

I say that we should encourage our children to become literate, and to help them develop a more diplomatic, peaceful and compassionate value system. And the obvious right way of doing this is to make the action movies where the hero guy is always doing the part where he’s taking the names. We could see him writing stuff down in an ultra-exciting manner, with compelling camera moves and stuff like out of The Matrix, but where he’s just writing stuff down all the time! It would be awesome!

Then we could force this way of doing things on video games next, where warriors are always just writing proposals for how to settle everyone’s differences peacefully with compromise: so everybody ends up happy! They could have a United Nations video game where diplomats write stuff for weeks and then they get it proofread, and they make revisions in a dazzling display of authorship! Then, they could print up copies and distribute them for everyone to read!! And then, if everyone wasn’t happy, they could negotiate for whatever changes were required, and then they’d rewrite it again!!! And they go through the process again and again and again, in an awesome display of literacy and diplomacy! Awesome, huh? And then the author could give someone a paper cut while collating the documents, or accidentally staple someone’s finger, I guess, just to satisfy all of our bloodlust. (See? It’s not all boring!)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

XOOM Black Knight Ad

Well, I guess I never thought I’d see this: A bank is using the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail as their mascot, since other banks charge “an arm and a leg” (get it?) to transfer money, etc. I guess now I’ve seen everything!

But what a great, fun idea! Everyone who is liable to be transferring money nowadays was once, perhaps even recently, a stoned college student watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail, right? So it’s perfect, even if the movie is really old at this point! It’s like The Rocky Horror Picture Show: it never dies or seems to age, so it’s always perfect to exploit for advertising! So where are all those “Frank N. Furter” ads for Victoria’s Secret lingerie? You know someone would appreciate them! They could call the collection: “Out of this world!”

Or how about this: Goodyear Tires show Brad & Janet getting in trouble in Rocky Horror, and then they say they could have avoided the whole affair if they had only used the Goodyear steel-belted self-inflating tires on their car! (etc.) But then they would have continued being squares, I guess. But hey: there’s a huge market for squares out there, I’ll bet! There’s more of them than there are of us! 

Oh, but back to this Black Knight idea: this campaign has to get better, or it’s a one trick pony! That means they have to show the Black Knight trying to transfer money and getting his arms and legs cut off by greedy bankers, with blood and gore spraying out everywhere! You know those bloodthirsty gorehounds would love it! XOOM would get the whole Lucio Fulci fan base exclusively! It’s a perfect strategy! Just only show these ads before NC-17 horror movies! It would be great!

Oh, but transferring money isn’t the only place where you have to pay exorbitant fees, now is it? Of course it’s not! So then we’d have to see the knight trying to get cash out of another bank’s ATM, and then a sword comes out and cuts his appendages off! You know you want to see it! Then his bloody stump torso goes hopping into the Better Business Bureau to complain, leaving a red gore trail like a crawling slimy snail! It’s a winner!

And… This is an outrage! This ad is not online! (That I can find.) What the hell are they doing not putting this up for social media to forward to everyone for free! Then everyone would see it, and it wouldn't cost the company anything! What idiots! Smart commercial: dumb internet (non) implementation!

But to make up for its absence, I’ll post a link to this other Monty Python-themed ad for GMAIL (Very good use of the skit! {Although I don’t know if GMAIL helps much with avoiding spam.}):

Scan Health Plan “Live Person” Ad

This ad shows someone calling Scan Health Plan on the phone, and they get some lady who seems bored and stuff on the phone. (Maybe she’s just not a professional actress, so she comes off as “wooden” onscreen.) Then they say that when you call them, you get “a live person”, and that that’s how they’re different.

So does this mean that other companies are using dead people to answer their phones? Oh my God! The dead have risen from their graves to take our jobs! No wonder the economy is in such bad shape! They’ll work for nothing! Haven’t you seen the movie White Zombie? No wonder so many major corporations are sitting on record piles of cash: they've got zombies working for them for free! (It really brings new meaning to the expression: "Killing jobs"!) And really, who but a zombie could stand doing the customer call center job, dealing with angry people yelling at them all day long? Maybe that's why they're always trying to feast upon our flesh: they're getting revenge for being abused on the phone by living people day-in and day-out for nothing! (And I'm a bit surprised that Scan Health Plan doesn't use dead people to answer their phones: as a medical company, you'd think they'd have plenty of access to dead bodies. Right?)

But if I hear the dead people on the phone ask for my brain, I’m hanging up. Maybe they’ve figured out a way to slurp our brains out over the phone lines!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nature Show Misses / The Next Boom Market

I’m watching a Nature episode about giant crocodiles. I’m only watching it because Real Madrid can’t even score on a crappy team after a half and a half, and I’m being reminded of when they lost to a third-tier team during the Champions League two years ago. Anyway, I can’t take it anymore, so I switched to the channel where what I’ve been waiting all day for is on: Masterpiece Mystery. So it’s not that I hate nature or anything; actually I like this show a lot sometimes: they had one where they showed how birds of prey’s wings influenced the design of stealth jets! (The problem is that China gets to see that episode too. Or do we build our secret stealth weapons there too? I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if we did.)

Anyway, the issue I had with this episode of Nature is that there’s some guy who’s an expert on giant crocs, and he’s wagging his legs in the water to try to attract them, and then he says: “Oh, I’m disappointed I’m not getting any response today.” (!) Me too! I wanted to see one bite his legs off just to show him! If they’re such good predators, then why don’t they? Maybe they know to avoid stupid TV shows if they’re so advanced. But my issue is this: to show a guy who is an expert on a vicious predator doing something dumb and getting away with it, this will probably leave everyone else as bait for them in real life! “Well the expert did it, and he was fine!”, said the guy with no legs. (Or is that their plan to feed their favorite endangered animals?)

Remember: we’re in the Jackass generation. It’s probably considered “cool” to have your legs bitten off by a giant crocodile these days. (Yay! You get a rocket-propelled wheelchair for doing it!) People worry about how we’re going to compete in the global marketplace, but I know how! We have the world’s largest natural resource of macho dumbasses! YouTube videos of people getting wiped-out will never go out of style! And the more the rest of the world gets our jobs, the more they’ll need us rednecks to injure ourselves for their amusement! So don’t worry: America’s got it made!

Thank you, Johnny Knoxville, for the next boom market: expendable idiots doing stunts! You’ve saved America’s future! (Tell your Mom I said so: she’ll never believe you!)

SPDR Broken Plate Museum Mosaic Investment Ad

This commercial for an investment house is really quite funny in a number of ways, one of them being the fact that it suggests criminal fraud, and shows someone getting away with it, all while linking the name of their investment firm with such actions. It’s a cute visual metaphor for their headline regarding a missing piece, but otherwise it’s really an ill-advised stab at communicating misguided messaging, in my opinion. I get the idea of the missing piece and all, but this isn’t the best way to communicate it in an investment context, if you ask me.

I saw this ad a couple of times, and I sat in slack-jawed amazement at the suggested undercurrent of the behavior in it. I don’t remember what the name of the business was, basically because I was so surprised at what was happening, and that anyone would want to advertise an investment house this way. I’ve looked for it again for over a week, and I haven’t seen it again, so I’m afraid I can’t even say who it’s an ad for. But if you see it, you’ll be sure to recognize it!

So here’s what this ad does: It shows a housekeeper hearing something alarming, and it turns out to be a rich woman breaking an expensive plate with a hammer. Then the rich lady takes a little piece out of the pile of broken plate shards, and she hot-foots it over to a museum, where she takes her piece of rubbish and sticks it on some priceless mosaic, filling a small gap in one little area of it, which ends up being part of the iris of the woman who is the subject of the mosaic’s image. Then they ask if you’re missing an important piece of your investment portfolio, yadda yadda.

So there are some obvious problems with this scenario. First of all, the rich lady is smashing valuable pieces of china, and that’s destroying an investment right there. Then there is the problem that she just leaves the smashed shards of plate all over her dining room table for the housekeeper to have to clean up. That’s just rude, and I’ll bet she’s just going to blame the broken plate on the housekeeper to get her fired, and that’s just horrible (especially in this job market)! But she’s just getting started, for after that she takes a shard of her broken plate and then, after subverting the museum’s security, she breaks the rules about not touching the artwork, and she fraudulently adds it to a valuable masterpiece in the museum’s exhibited collection, vandalizing it! Perhaps she works for the museum, and in some underhanded forgery restoration scam, she’s trying to make it look like it’s in perfect condition so it becomes more valuable, netting the museum more insurance money when it’s stolen! Or, maybe what she’s doing is destroying its value through defacing it so it will be thrown away or sold at an extremely lowered price, and she can snatch it up for peanuts, restore it to its original state (since she’s the only one who knows what she did to it and how to fix it), and sell it for an exorbitant fee and make a killing! What a thief and scam artist, not to mention a liar and vandal! And this is the lady the investment house wishes to associate themselves with? Well, I’m not surprised an investment bank would think some dishonest scam like this was fine, but make sure they don’t steal all your money in some fraudulent scheme like the one shown in this commercial! I’d think a bank, especially an investment bank, would want to distance themselves from association with anything that smacks of dishonesty, fraud, or malfeasance, especially after all the fraud that was exposed during the recent financial crisis, but I guess not these guys.

The funniest thing to me about this ad is that this woman has a complete disregard for rules, laws, etc., and an absolute absence of fear of consequences, as though she knows she couldn’t be caught or held accountable no matter what she does. She just waltzes right into the museum and sticks her piece of broken plate right onto a valuable masterpiece hanging on the wall (!). And she gets away with it with no consequences! (In real life, it is generally frowned upon for people to walk up to valuable museum exhibits and alter them.) In this way, it’s a lot like the Wall Street investment banks, with their “too big to fail” status, who know they’ll always get away with whatever scam they run or illegal way they bilk money out of people with absolute impunity because they could destroy the economy if they fail; plus they give so much campaign money to politicians, they know the government will never come after them because then they wouldn’t get so much money donated later, and they might be implicated in corruption stuff if they prosecuted these guys. And this is what this ad makes me think of: Spoiled, pampered rich people with an absolute reckless and selfish disregard for all rules and laws, doing whatever the hell they feel like without fear of consequences, because they know they’ll always get away with whatever illegal or immoral thing they want to do because they’re so rich. But maybe that’s just me. In any case, unless it is just me, this ad is communicating a very cynical message that many Americans might find just a tad irksome right about now, even if it is unintentionally communicated. But the funny thing is, the bank’s advertising department didn’t seem to notice or object to this the-rules-don’t-apply-to-me attitude of the main character in this spot, and they don’t mind being associated with her, so it makes them seem like they’re like that themselves. And that makes them seem really out-of-touch (not to mention possibly dishonest).

I mean, look: the idea is cute and all, but it just has this undercurrent of reckless disregard for society, rules, etc., and it makes their message look inextricably linked with completely out-of-touch, think-the-rules-don’t-apply-to-them, greedily depraved rich people. And if this message is only aimed at that kind of people, since they have most of the money anyway, then kudos on the accurate targeting of their target demographic! Maybe this is the intent, after all. But if they’re trying to attract business from people who are not spoiled, hyper-entitled aristocrat-types, then epic fail, dude! Unless…

What if they’re actually aiming their ads at not-rich-yet-but-wanting-desperately-to-be-spoiled-over-entitled-rich-jerks-type people? Like, say they want people to use their investment service, with the subliminal suggestion in the ad that if they invest with them, they’ll soon become part of this class of ultra-wealthy rule-ignoring do-whatever-the-hell-they-want people. Then perhaps, if they know their market are venal scumbags, and they’re right, perhaps this campaign will work really well for them, showing some arrogant, selfish bitch as the kind of person their clients are hoping to soon become. Then it would be appropriate, I suppose, showing these people a hopeful goal for who they’d like to be, and offering them a service that will (purportedly) help them become like that person. But for nice people who respect society and the law, this ad should simply turn them off, and remind them of all the things they don’t like about rich people, and investment banks.

But there’s an easy way to communicate this idea of the “missing piece” without generating those negative thoughts about banks and the rich, and it’s this: Show a couple with a puzzle of a picture of what they’d like their retirement to be, but there is a piece missing in the middle of it. They look around for it, but they can’t find it, so they call their investment advisor, who comes over with the missing piece. They put the missing piece in the puzzle, which completes the picture, and the camera zooms into the picture, dissolving away the jigsaw lines, and turning the picture into a video, which the couple then steps into, showing them living their dream retirement.

Maybe this has been done before, I don’t know; but it seems to me that this solves all those problems I listed above. The only problem is that it might look like the investment guy stole the puzzle piece the last time he was at their house. So make it clear that it’s a new investment advisor, or maybe even have the investment advisor hand them something that morphs into the missing puzzle piece. Oh, but then it might look like black magic, and they’d burn her/him as a witch. But I guess we’re so used to CGI doing unrealistic things in ads, we’re just conditioned to seeing it do them; and seeing is believing, right?

I’m sorry I can’t give a link to this ad, since it’s so rife with ways to read it negatively about banks and the rich. I don’t even know what the company was that it was advertising for, since the content of the ad always had me thinking about all the stuff I could read into it, so I was distracted. Anyway, I’ve been looking for it again for two weeks, and I haven’t seen it, so maybe they pulled it. But probably not: the last time I thought an ad had been pulled, it was for that “My daughter is part fish” ad for United Healthcare, and then they ran it to death for a full month after I said I couldn’t find it.

No wait! It’s an ad for SPDR “Spider” investments! Here’s the ad (See? I wasn’t making it up!):

Harry Potter Miss

I love Harry Potter, for the most part, and I’m really happy that a welfare mom made good and all (actually, I’m ecstatic about that part, and I feel I must point out that a lot of our greatest writers have always had employment issues, to be, shall we say, “understated” about it {how else would they have time to write anything?}), but there’s a problem for me with the resolution of the series, and I doubt I’m the only one with an issue here, so I’ll just spill it: Harry Potter and Hermoine Granger were made for each other, and they should have wound up together! Maybe it was too obvious or something, but it’s just silly the way it’s written. (I would have almost preferred having Voldemort win! And actually, I would have understood her marrying Voldemort better: after all, he’s successful already. That’s what women want, right? Then she could have made peace between them, and maybe Harry could have served some evil vice-presidency function. And he still could have married the Weasley girl, as a second choice on the rebound.)

I mean, look: I’ll accept all the magic stuff, and all the fake animals and everything: I believe all that stuff well enough. And I’ll accept all the loose ends of plot, and all the other stuff that doesn’t quite make sense (like I did with Star Wars, where we always have to accept that “good” characters get to stay around forever, even if they’re dead, but that the great evil characters don’t get to glow like a black light poster in the afterlife), but you can take things too far to where it’s not believable anymore. And if you think Hermoine is going to settle for Ron Weasley after being made to order for Harry Potter, you’re nuts!

Hey, even sperm banks are kicking out the ginger stuff, so why would the best character in the series accept it? (Nothing personal, redheads: you’re fine with me!) It’s not even an issue of hair color, it’s an issue of identification: Harry and Hermoine are both talented outsiders disparaged by everyone who rise above anyway and support one another. How could they not fall in love? Maybe they avoid it at first because they don’t want to ruin the friendship thing, but they’d definitely avoid coupling up with another best friend from within the same circle of friends: it’s just common sense.

People are buzzing about the possibility of new Harry Potter books, and as far as I can see, the most reasonable plotline would be for Harry and Hermoine to realize that they married the wrong people and to finally get together. Then Ron can get together with “Moaning Myrtle”, or whoever else he’s earned. Besides, if she’s already named “Moaning Myrtle”, maybe she and Ron can help PeTA start their new porn site! Then we can be rid of these characters! Yay!

Actually, I don’t hate the Ron Weasley character: I was joking, and I also like the “Moaning Myrtle” character as well. I just don’t like Ron & Hermoine ending up as a couple, when they’re really not suited at all. For the whole time, I thought Hermoine was being made to order as Harry’s love interest, and when it didn’t happen, it took me out of the stories. Maybe she (the author) didn’t want to be too predictable, but it just feels unsatisfying to me. But her love life hadn’t worked out when she was writing the stories, so maybe she threw that into the plot; and if so, maybe that makes it better: I don’t know. It’s just unsatisfying to me personally, like when Richard Dreyfuss wasn’t eaten by the shark in Jaws: he was just right there, looking delicious, but the shark forgot about him? Ridiculous!

Maybe it’s just that I like the bookish nerdette types, and that they don’t get enough credit. Why isn’t she good enough for Harry? She does all his homework for him it seems like. Oh, but maybe he loses respect for her? Is that it? She’s “too nice”? Well, it’s about time a girl suffered for that quality, rather than it always being a guy who gets dumped for it. Maybe that’ll teach everyone to be a jerk, like they ought to be!

Actually I was kind of hoping that Draco Malfoy, once his father was killed*, would finally admit that he could never be his true self with his parents around, and finally come out of the closet and pair up with Ron Weasley: then the Weasleys could have combined the magic of their respective families for good purposes, rather than just have all that good evil stuff (Malfoy’s family magic, that is) wasted like that. I mean, come on: dimensional animated tattoos? That’s the next big boom market for muggles!

* (Oh, but he wasn’t killed, was he? That’s another issue, isn’t it? He’s like a Nazi war criminal escaping to South America or something: it just doesn’t sit right in the end. Maybe he’s got lots of baby Voldemorts out there like in The Boys from Brazil. Hey, you never know! Maybe that’s what the new books will be about!)

BTW: I know this is hardly new, but I reminded of it by the following article:

And here’s the story about that heinous sperm bank prejudice:

Bill Cunningham

I was watching the news with a friend, and we were flipping through the channels during ads, and we wound up on Hannity, where this guy Bill Cunningham was talking about whether Light Squared had donated money to Obama, and if the White House pressured some guy to perjure himself to Congress, yadda yadda. So my friend says (re: Bill Cunningham): “That guy looks like a Muppet.” And I looked at him for a second and said: “No, actually he looks like a Rankin/Bass marionette. Look at the lines around his mouth: doesn’t it make him look like a marionette?” And my friend agreed, saying that’s what he had meant all along, but that “Muppet” is a sort-of catch-all for all puppetesque looks on people, which I had to agree with. In fact, it’s the very term I myself would have used first, had he not done it himself.

And the fact that Bill Cunningham looks like a Rankin/Bass marionette is especially apropos to me, seeing as how he’s a bigtime conservative guy (I think he’s a radio talk show guy or something). So it might help explain how he got to be the way he is. Can’t you just see him with all the other elves at the North Pole, carrying around all those dentist implements, trying to practice dentistry? Well, Santa and the elves gave him such a hard time for wanting to make his own way in the world through private enterprise, it turned him off to Santa’s commie ways forever! (BTW: Johnny Carson established years ago that Santa Claus is a communist with a 60 Minutes skit which pointed out that Santa Claus has a RED suit {the color of communism}, and looks like Karl Marx with that big white beard. Plus, he gives stuff away for free and treats everyone equally {supposedly}.) And so after failing at his dream job of dentistry due to leftist conspiracies, he decided to make a career bashing socialist policies. And so that’s why he looks like a Rankin/Bass marionette: because he is one!

This is Bill Cunningham, for those of you who don’t know who he is (This is a picture of him before he got those lines around his mouth. It couldn’t be that I was mistaken about the Rankin/Bass character. Nope: no way. Okay, maybe.):

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Honey Nut Cheerios Diner Ad

Okay, here we have a scene in a diner-style restaurant, and there is a group of people in business attire seated together at a small table. So then the waitress comes over and asks: “Who ordered the stuff for low cholesterol, and who had the yummy stuff?” (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it.) So then she puts a bunch of bowls of cereal down, and they’re all the same: Honey Nut Cheerios (allegedly: they could be Joe’s O’s, for all I knows)! So then the waitress says: “Oh, did I get that wrong?” And then all the people at the table start trading around their bowls of the same cereal. And this all goes to show you: diners will get your order wrong every time! You should never go to diners, they’re always… What? That isn’t the message? Oh, sorry: I mean that it just goes to show you that Honey Nut Cheerios is good for lowering cholesterol and it tastes good! Ya got that?

(Actually, I like diners! I was kidding before: Please go eat at diners!)

So when I first saw this commercial (just this past minute), I thought: okay, that’s a way to say it; if anyone ever ordered cereal at a restaurant: which they don’t. But how else are they going to say it that’s new now anyway? It tells you what they want you to know (or what they want you to think, anyway), and it kinda makes sense, so good job, I guess. And actually, the fact that everyone will probably say to each other that nobody orders cereal at a restaurant will just make everyone talk and think about the ad and the product all that much more. So maybe it’s even better: who knows. (I haven’t bought a cereal based upon anything other than word-of-mouth for years. But the world wouldn’t be the same without cereal ads, so please keep making them: especially the ones for kids!)

Oh, but then the spot takes a tragic turn, as the Honey Nut Cheerios bumblebee mascot goes flying into the diner to greet the patrons who ordered his cereal, and someone squishes him with a rolled-up newspaper! Oh well, maybe they did that just as a setup for the introduction of a new mascot: Nutty the Nut! After all, it’s “Honey Nut Cheerios”, right? How come the bee character gets to hog all the credit? That’s anti-nut propaganda! And if they had Nutty the Nut as their mascot, he could say he’s “Nuts about Honey Nut Cheerios, honey!” (Or is that sexist?) Hey, being insane about cereal has been a wonderful strategy for Cocoa Puffs and Trix ads! It’s worked so well for a kids’ cereal, so why not an adult one? After all, adults are just grown-up children, right? So it’s perfect!

Besides, by having a bee mascot, aren’t Cheerios opening themselves up for an attack ad bashing the bumblebee mascot as dangerous? Some other cereal company could say that the Cheerios bee mascot is secretly a deadly killer bee, and he’s just pretending to be friendly so that you’ll let him into your home so he can sting you to death! Some people are allergic to bee stings too, so it's a real threat! I’m surprised nobody has done that ad yet! Maybe it’s not likely to be done for real, but I can dream, can’t I?

Sorry people: yet again I cannot find this ad online! You’d think ads would be online too, but many still aren’t. Could it be the negative YouTube comments? Or perhaps me? (I doubt it’s me: I don’t have millions of readers. But I’d love to wield such power, so I could abuse it! Ha ha ha!!!)

No, wait: someone has put it up now:

New Aflac Dance-Off Ad

The first version of this idea they ran as a commercial was really fun, with the duck vs. the pigeon, with the duck doing the break dance moves, etc., and handing wads of cash to the Aflac customer after every move. I think this was probably a crowd pleaser, and so Aflac most likely decided they’d like more of the same. But too much of a good thing can make something sweet turn sour, and sometimes less is more.

This new ad with the duck and the pigeons doing the dance-off is a good example of more being less. They simply overdid it, and the once great idea jumped the shark. Or at least, that’s what I thought when I saw it for the first time. (BTW: It only gets worse after the first viewing.) But the first version of this idea in an ad was great! (The previous ad, that is: the one I'm attaching below.)

What the Aflac guys need to do is just keep on creating great new ideas for ads, rather than trying an overindulgent retread of an old one that they liked. Do this too many times, and they’ll become like the disaster that is the Capital One ad campaign: a tired, outdated idea beaten to death through overuse. The great thing about the Aflac campaign over the past couple of years is that they have had a bunch of great different ones, one after the other, beginning with the Superduck one. Just get back on that roll, and they’ll be the kinds of ads we love to see!

Here’s the old version of the duck dance ad (really fun!):

I haven’t seen the new one up yet, but you can’t miss it when it comes on TV. See if you don’t agree that it’s a bit much.