Monday, April 30, 2012

Ultrabook Kung Fu Teahouse Ad

I just saw a new ad for a laptop called the Ultrabook that's lots and lots of fun! It has two Asian ladies in period-looking robes and such fighting each other in a teahouse in that gravity-defying kung fu style that's reminiscent of the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and as it turns out, they are fighting over the use of a power outlet for their large, cumbersome and totally outdated mega-laptops. Then some other lady with this Ultrabook laptop snakily rubs it in that she's got lots of battery power left, and so she doesn't even need a power outlet (not that she'd get to use it anyway, with these deadly ninja assassins fighting over it!). So, insulted by this, the former enemies team up to kill this smugly superior lady with their 20 fingers of death! Or at least, that's what I was hoping would happen. Instead, some bearded guy says the two fighting ladies "bring great shame upon this coffee hut"! (Yeah, women are always smashing up the place! It's a good thing there are usually men around to shame them for their ultra-violent activities! Otherwise, we'd be living in a deadly world locked in constant mortal combat! Seriously ladies: violence isn't always the answer, you know!)

I love this silly ad, except that I think the guy shaming the women at the end is unnecessary and uncalled-for. The women see the error of their ways and feel quite silly enough without the judgmental condemnation of Mr. Self Righteous, and it just puts an unfortunate aftertaste on this whole scenario, or at least as far as I'm concerned it does. (He's probably just jealous that he's not as good at kung fu as these women are! Besides, if it weren't for these ladies' awesome martial arts skills, we wouldn't even be interested in that "coffee hut" to begin with. Or could it be that this guy says they bring shame upon the coffee house because they stopped fighting before one of them was horribly killed? {That's how macho men do it! Letting your opponent live is disgraceful! I've seen Shaw Brothers' movies, so I know what I'm talking about!}) The spot was great up until that point, and it was really fun and everything, so why put an extra exclamation point on it? I mean, it's still great, but I think it would have been better without that chiding part.

But there is a real problem with this ad that I wish wasn't there, and I see this so often in ads to their detriment, and that's the fact that the women fighting over this wall outlet are given ridiculously large and clunky laptops to hold, and they don't even look like anything anyone could possibly be using nowadays. And rather than making it so people don't remember that there are lots and lots of efficient battery life laptops these days, or hoping that they won't remember that you can have two batteries with you, etc., these ridiculously clunky fake laptops simply make me think: "Hey: nobody uses laptops like that! There are tons of small, sleek, thin, newer models that... Oh, wait: They're using this ploy to try to make it so I don't remember that part! Lame." Oh well. Their point is very good anyway, and people forget to charge their batteries, etc., and some people prefer to use the wall outlet anyway (I do too, sometimes), so this ad would have worked just as well (actually, I think even better) had they used realistic-looking newer laptops for the fighting women to hold.

Anyway, these are minor quibbles, and I love the fun creativity and pop-culture sensibility that went into this spot. Well done, people! More, please!

Here's this really great ad:

University of Phoenix (Joke) Ad

The University of Phoenix, the online school, has ads where one purportedly successful person talks about their career, and then they say: "And I'm a phoenix!" So this made me think it would be fun to have a joke on this ad campaign, where Jean Grey from the X-Men talks about all her great work with the X-Men, showing some brief scenes from the movie series, and then she says: "And I'm a Phoenix!" And then she transforms into the character "Phoenix", glowing with the intensity of great cosmic powers and levitating up into the air, whereupon she summons a wreath of threatening dark clouds, becomes "Dark Phoenix", and absorbs the power of the sun, destroying the Earth in the process.

Here's the Wikipedia page on Jean Grey, describing her powers, and her transformations into Phoenix and Dark Phoenix, for those who aren't familiar with this comic book heroine's character arc:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Joke Pradaxa Ad

Some rich old man sits in his ritzy and palatial family room talking to his doctor (who has made a house call), with his family sitting and looking concerned behind him. He turns to the camera and says he has an irregular heartbeat, and that his doctor said this puts him at a 5-times greater risk of a stroke. So then he says he made a new will just in case anything happens to him, and because he was worried about his family’s future, he left everyone plenty of money, and if anything happens to any of them, the others will inherit their share of the money. So upon hearing this information about the will, the family members get distortedly exaggerated looks of calculating greed on their faces, and then all of his relatives start murdering each other in the background of the shot behind him, unbeknownst to the rich guy, as he is busy speaking to the camera. (Slightly out of focus, we see them stabbing, strangling, poisoning, smothering, etc., each other in the background of the shot while the rich old man and his doctor speak to the camera about Pradaxa, oblivious to what is taking place behind them.) And then his doctor steps further into the shot beside the old man, and says that he put the guy on Pradaxa, and that this may help him live a long and healthy life despite his atrial fibrillation. And as it turns out, by the end of the spot, the old man is the only one left alive in his whole family, the others all having killed each other in a paroxysm of avaricious delirium over the future inheritance money, leaving the background strewn with the freshly-murdered corpses of his family. So Pradaxa made him outlive everyone else after all! See? It really works!

Oh, but then it turns out that this was all a ploy! For this rich man was no chump: he knew his family were a bunch of money-grubbing assassins waiting for him to die so they could conspire to kill each other and make off with the cash! So he hired this “doctor” to come discuss his “health problem” so that he could claim the will was set up like a 1930s murder-mystery movie, just so he could watch them all destroy one another with their cunning rapaciousness! You see, he didn’t want to take a chance on dying and missing all the fun, so he staged this whole thing and filmed it with a camera crew pretending to make a TV commercial so he could watch it back over and over again for his own amusement! And so he had the last laugh after all! Unfortunately, this last laugh caused him to die of a stroke, which could easily have been prevented had he simply hired a real doctor and actually taken the Pradaxa for real! So as convoluted as this whole plot is, it really does make a good ad for Pradaxa after all! (Well, unless his doctor got greedy and stabbed him “accidentally” with a scalpel: then he would bleed to death through the small, otherwise non-life-threatening cut! And this teaches all greedy hopeful heirs of cantankerous misers that if you can just trick them into taking Pradaxa, you can “accidentally” cut them and make them bleed to death, and it won’t look like murder! That’s Pradaxa: ask for it by name wherever “make it look like an accident” supplies are sold!)

(This is all just a joke! Please don’t look into all those times people bled to death all around me: it was just an accident each and every time, I swear! And all that Pradaxa isn’t mine: some guy just asked me to “hold it for him”.)

BTW: This is based upon a real Pradaxa ad where an old man and his doctor talk to the camera about atrial fibrillation, and how Pradaxa can help, etc. But I can’t find this ad online to show you, so sorry about that.

“Do You Own an Oil Company?” Ad

That evil seductress attempts to tempt us with greed and the promise of wealth in this spot shilling for the oil industry. I have previously established that this blonde oil company spokeswoman is Satan, or some other demon from hell, in a previous post (she wears all black, she rides a glass elevator up from the hot center of the Earth in one ad, she tempts us with riches, etc.), and here she continues to make that argument for me.

You see, she knows many people oppose oil drilling and greenhouse gasses, so she’s not even trying to justify it whatsoever. Instead, she’s saying that most people’s investment portfolios contain oil company stuff whether they’re aware of it or not, and because oil companies are so obscenely profitable, they ought to throw-in with the evil corporations and cash-in! Forget about “going green” and sell your souls for some real green! I believe this is the message of this spot. (And in this economy, it’s a difficult siren’s song to resist!)

I can’t believe I can’t find this stupid commercial on the Internet! It’s just like so many of the other ones! (Actually, it’s not a stupid commercial at all: It demonstrates why it is in many people’s best interest not to oppose the oil industry, and that’s why it works. But it is perhaps a bit cynical…) Anyway, here’s another ad that’s like it, with the same woman, and the same big white lettering in the background:

Ortho Mattress Mascot

When I was a little kid, there was an ad campaign for Qantas Airways where a Koala would sit in a tree, and after talking about how many tourists are coming to Australia to visit on this airline, the Koala would say: “I hate Qantas!” And following this quote, I would say to the TV set: “If you hate Qantas so much, why are you starring in their TV commercials?” And after that campaign, every time there is a problem with a Qantas flight reported on the news, I always joke in my head about how that Koala must have finally snapped and hijacked or sabotaged a plane to try to run Qantas out of business. (Nature strikes back!)

Oh, but while watching CBS Sunday Morning today, I see what must have happened instead! Yes, this morning I saw that there is a Koala mascot for Ortho mattresses, and it became clear that this must be what happened to the Qantas Koala! He really did hate Qantas after all! And so much so that he took another airline to fly to America and become the Ortho Mattress mascot, where he could fall asleep easily on Ortho mattresses and spend the rest of his life dreaming of a world without Qantas Airways!

Here’s one of those old Qantas Koala ads:

And here’s the website for Ortho Mattresses (Now tell me that’s not the same Koala!):

American Express Aziz Ansari Ad

(This is the minute-long version of the spot I’m writing about here.)

In this commercial for the American Express Card, the popular comedian Aziz Ansari meets a girl in a bar, and he likes her, so he looks up her interests and goes out to buy stuff to help him get into these activities to hopefully impress her. Naturally, in standard comedic happenstance, he overdoes it, and scares her away. This is really cute and fun, but I don’t think it’s a good ad for a credit card. Why not? Well…

Okay, so because he’s got this credit card, he is free to splurge on all this stuff, and he goes totally overboard and scares this girl away, right? So then isn’t this showing us how having a credit card can be a bad thing? It demonstrates right there why using your credit card a lot can bite you on the ass and completely foul up your whole day. Plus, after doing all of this stuff just to shoot himself in the foot, he still has to pay all of this stuff off! This seems to me to be an object lesson in why you should avoid using credit cards, rather than being a good ad for why you should want one. See what I mean?

But this scenario is charming and fun, and these two actors (Aziz and his date) are very likable and stuff. I like the spot. I just don’t think it does a good job at selling its product, because it looks rather more like a cautionary tale about what can go wrong when you get this credit card, rather than a good dissemination of why you should want to get it.

But, if they were selling a feature where you can return anything easily, or cancel a purchase that doesn’t work out despite a store’s “no returns” policy or something, then this would have been a great manner in which to illustrate this service! Also, just as an extra plus, when he goes to return this stuff, he could return it to a store employee who is a gorgeous woman who comments on how sweet it was of him to make such a romantic gesture and how she wishes she could date someone like that. And then, their eyes would meet, and… (And then it would look like there is even a reward in failure, and a silver lining in everything when you use this credit card.)

Here’s the overwhelming ad that charges too much:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Volvo Red Riding Hood Ad

Okay, here we have a red Volvo driving through the spooky woods at night. And then the driver’s grandmother is standing on the side of the road out in the cold, so he pulls over and lets her in, but it’s the big bag wolf in disguise, and the wolf eats him and lives happily ever after with this sweet, sweet ride. Oh, wait; that’s not what happens. Um, actually, this guy uses his car to bully and intimidate a poor cute and fuzzy wolf (who is also hungry like the wolf, so it’s extra mean!) that has accidentally strayed into the road. Oh, but fortunately PeTA sees this and they slash the guy’s tires so he has to walk, and then that wolf goes to get his big brothers, and they catch up with this guy who is no longer so big and tough without his car to push wolves around with, and so they all eat him, and all is well with the world thereafter! (Yay!)

Oh, but his daughter is stranded in the car now! (Yikes!) But never fear, for the wolves raise her as one of their own, and she grows up to be a sexy werewolf warrior who keeps the world safe from vampires! And all thanks to Volvo: the car you’ve always been hungry like the wolf for! (You get a free bottle of Lycan liqueur with every purchase! {Please drink responsibly!} <This is a call-back to my recent post on the Captain Morgan Black secret passage ad, where I propose creating a brand of Liquor called Lycan, etc.)

Okay, that doesn’t happen either. The truth is, this guy’s daughter is apparently Little Red Riding Hood, and he’s just driving her to her grandmother’s house so she won’t be attacked by wolves in the forest. But because he pushed that wolf around with his car, rather than just handing over his daughter, this wolf is mad now, and this inspires him to sneak over to the grandmother’s house, get rid of her, and dress up in the grandmother’s clothes, and all so he can eat that girl once she arrives, and get revenge on her father. (And this is the true origin of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale.) Oh, if only that Volvo was a faster car! But, oh, they only care about safety! (But only safety inside the car: once you get out of the car, they couldn’t care less if you die horribly! And you will: YOU WILL!!) And the safety features make the car heavier and slower, and so the wolf beats the Volvo to grandma’s house, and Little Red Riding Hood gets dropped off, and the wolf eats her. (Oh, the humanity!)

It’s funny, because when I first saw this ad, I thought the wolf was going to turn out to be a werewolf, and the driver was going to be one too, and this would be another European car commercial trying to cash in on the current vampire/werewolf craze (like Audi did with their vampire-burning headlights ad). But at least Little Red Riding Hood was in it, so it was kinda fun after all. (But I still thought the events following this ad’s scenario would be the father dropping off Little Red Riding Hood at Grandma’s house, and then Grandma turns out to be the wolf, so he eats her. Except that this little girl can howl like a wolf, so maybe she’s already a werewolf, and she’ll eat the wolf. Oh, but then PeTA would attack her for cruelty to animals. Except that she’s part cute, furry wolf, too. Oh, well: maybe werewolves are allowed to kill wolves because they’re part wolf, and only humans aren’t allowed to do anything except get killed by animals. Or maybe she’d kill PeTA too because she’s a werewolf with a bloodlust to match her red riding hood, and that’s why she has a red riding hood to begin with: to camouflage all the blood she spills all over herself all the time when she’s killing indiscriminately in her lupine form. Or maybe PeTA is all a bunch of werewolves already, and that’s why they fight for animal rights: so nobody will hurt them when they’re in their lupine form. Oh, I don’t know.)

BTW: This car is bright red, and that’s because this guy likes speeding through the forest all the time to see what kind of animals he can hit and kill with his car (and even people, too!), and the red paint job is to hide all the blood he gets on the car when he hits things with it. And that’s why the wolf was angry and scared of the car: it recognizes this car as the one that killed his brother Wolfgang. (Or maybe it even killed his whole wolf gang!)

Here’s Little Red Riding Hood’s little red ride:

Dark Shadows

Ah, yes: Dark Shadows. I’ve been hearing for years that Johnny Depp has been wanting to make a movie remake of this for a long time, but not until recently had I known much about it. It seems that Tim Burton has directed it, and in that great Tim Burton tradition of ruining great pre-existing material, he’s turned it into a stupid comedy. Even the trailer alone is enough to make me want to avoid this movie completely. And it’s a shame too, because we’ve been drowning in lame vampire comedies for quite some time now, but a really good straight remake of Dark Shadows could have been the best vampire movie for years! (Sleepy Hollow was wonderful! Why not make it like that? You know, beautifully gripping dark horror, but with some minimal quirky comedy. That would have been sublime!) Oh, well. Leave it to these big Hollywood types to kill a sure thing! (“Yeah, it’s a great classic and everything, with a massive fan base really looking forward to a faithful treatment of the subject matter, but still, we need a new twist on it!” {No, you don’t!})

But I think I know how this happened: I’ll bet Tim Burton has grown tired of fanboy nerds ripping on his movie versions of things he’s ruined (like Batman), and so rather than try to get it right just to be ripped apart by actual fans of the subject matter, he decided to just go all out on ruining it for all the fans from the get-go: that way, there will be too much for them to complain about, and they’ll just give up and say nothing.

Or could it be that Burton just has no real interest in pleasing anyone? He marketed himself as the lonely misunderstood dark artist type in the beginning, but it seems he’s much more accepted by the mainstream nowadays, and it’s really the dark nerds who think he sucks now. So maybe he’s getting even with those who he feels should love him now, but always seem to manage to find something to criticize in his films. But whereas nit-picky criticism indicates a passionate interest in the subject matter (and a film), and so it might be a compliment of sorts, I imagine this staking of Dark Shadows won’t generate enough interest or enthusiasm from real fans of Dark Shadows to even rate much of a mention. You see, when someone murders someone you love, sometimes it’s easier to forget it ever happened than it is to dwell on it.

As far as I’m concerned, Tim Burton has had a wonderful career, but his disinterest in material others are passionate about has seriously hobbled his reputation among those who would like a good and faithful version of what they love. And Johnny Depp really should have known better than this. Perhaps he sees it as being like Young Frankenstein or something. (And maybe it is: I haven’t seen the movie yet; I’m still coming to terms with my disappointment over it being a juvenile comedy rather than a good horror movie, especially after how many lame vampire movies there have been recently.) But even if it is, we need a really good scary and atmospheric vampire movie now more than ever, to clear all the cobwebs of cinematic mediocrity from the old cinema castle and resurrect this genre for the old guard to enjoy again (plus to scare away tweens who want to be vampires and stuff). And I really thought Tim Burton might be just the guy to do it, and to knock it out of the park! Silly me, I guess. (But at least Stephen Sommers didn’t get to do it! We’ve at least been granted that much! It just worries me that now he’ll have an argument to make a straight remake, and then we’ll have to see his “vision” of it next!)

How about this for an idea? Let’s let the crew that made Hammer’s The Woman in Black do a new straight remake of Dark Shadows (or House of Dark Shadows, anyway)! And let’s get Ciarán Hinds to play Barnabas Collins (!). (Oh, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead to play Maggie Evans, Bijou Phillips to play the witch Angelique, and Emily Browning to play Carolyn Stoddard {Wouldn’t you love to see her play a vicious sexy vampire in a diaphanous nightgown?}. And maybe Juliet Landau to play Dr. Julia Hoffman? {But it would be hard to believe any self-respecting vampire would prefer anyone else to her, I guess!} And I don’t know if she would consider doing it, but wouldn’t Katharine Ross be great as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard? {She was so great to see again in Donnie Darko!}) Plus, let’s use some Black Sabbath and some Electric Wizard music on the soundtrack (at least in the trailer!): they could play the intro from the song “Black Sabbath” as Barnabas is released from the tomb and approaches the home, etc. But hey, it’s just an idea…

Here’s the trailer (Maybe I’m being too hard on it?):

Oh, have you seen the limited edition DVD box set of the complete Dark Shadows TV series? (Drool, drool!):

Friday, April 27, 2012

La Quinta Leg Up Ad

Here we have a guy named John staying at a La Quinta Inns & Suites, and this allegedly makes John feel confident, and so when he competes for a business account, he purportedly gets “a leg up” on the competition. And when I say that, I mean it literally, because when standing next to his competitor, John literally puts his leg up on this guy (which is easier because the guy is over a head shorter than John). This literal display of the old time-honored cliché of the “leg up” idea would be pretty cute, if not for a couple of unfortunate things.

First, John’s literal putting his leg up on the competition is an unwelcome invasion of his personal space, and as such, it could be considered assault and/or intimidation. Plus, it’s show-off-y, and is as such off-putting. Then there is the next issue, which is the simple fact that when John performs this raising his leg up over this other guy, it makes it appear as though his intent is to urinate on him like a dog would do. This is gross and disgusting, as well as degrading and insulting (in addition to appearing perhaps just a bit perverted), and as such, I think it’s a bit over-the-line for a business meeting. But hey: I’m not a corporate big-wig, so maybe I just don’t understand how big business operates! (Maybe it’s all about dominance and humiliation after all!)

So this ad is cute and well-intentioned, I think, but this leg-lifting thing is kind of a problem. Even if it’s intended as an in-joke, it makes me rather think about the Occupy movement’s message, and how it so often feels like business people think they can just “piss all over” the rest of us. Do you see what I mean here? And if that’s what it brings to mind for others too, then it makes La Quinta appear to be not only condoning of, but also perhaps complicit in, this type of abusive business attitude and/or practice. Doesn’t it? And that’s not really all that conducive to attracting a large variety of customers to their hotels. (Unless the power-abuse-y elite and the “golden showers” fetish crowd are their only specific target client demographic, in which case: well done, indeed!)

Oh, and I almost forgot: The tagline of this spot, or at least the announcer copy at the end of the spot, says: “La Quinta Inns and Suites take care of you, so you can take care of business!” And what expression do people so often euphemistically use to refer to their dog’s excretory activities? That’s right, they say: “Take care of business”, or: “Do his/her business”; and that brings this whole peeing on someone metaphor to mind all over again! Is this intentional? And if so, then why not say we’re “#1” with them? (Or they could say that they’re “number one” because they treat their guests like “number one”.)

I can’t find this commercial online, darn it! You’ve really got to see it to believe it!

No, wait; here it is (I just found it, one week later!):

Thursday, April 26, 2012

“Sex and the City” Pad Sells Big

The above headline was also the headline for a news story on Yahoo! News. (Well, except that they incorrectly called the show: “Sex in the City”. {Sigh.} Oh, and it wasn’t the actual headline for the news item either, but rather, a re-worded headline advertising said story on Yahoo!’s homepage.) And this made my marketing mind begin reeling like mad, wondering if there really was a new and successful brand of Sex and the City maxi pads (Warning: This Is GrossThey could have the faces of all the major characters on the inside of the crotch, so consumers could bleed onto their faces.* It would have been a marketing coup! And with such a shtick, it’s no wonder they’re selling so big, I thought!), as that’s what it sounded like to me from that headline. Oh, but then it just turned out to be the latest in a series of misleading headlines on Yahoo! News, an illustrious tradition with this silly website.

Now I know this is a buzz-kill for me to suggest this and everything, but if they wanted to write that headline and make it not-at-all misleading, as well as not unintentionally making us all secretly pine away for Sex and the City-brand maxi pads (actually, maybe that’s why they misspelled the show’s title: so they can make the maxi pads, and everyone would get the movie tie-in, but since it was spelled wrong, the show couldn’t sue! It’s like if someone wanted to make a Star Wars-themed wart remover, they could just call it “Star Warts”, and George Lucas would be powerless to stop them!), they could have written instead: “‘Sex and the City’ Apt. Sells Big”. I know that’s cheating, but that would have been easier to understand. Oh, but then maybe nobody would have read it.

Here’s the actual story, without the misleading headline:

* (Warning: This Is Gross: Maybe, with this huge zombie/gore fad in movies and on television, someone could market a line of zombie-themed maxi pads with zombie gore pictures but without any blood-letting, and consumers could provide their own blood! It would be like a coloring book for adults, but one that you wear! And you could always be surprised by the results, as no two would ever look exactly the same! And some lame schlock artist could frame some of them and act like it was “serious” art! And maybe celebrities could auction theirs off for charity and stuff.)

Miracle Whip Tagline

I wrote a piece about the Miracle Whip “witch burning” ad recently, but when I did, I didn’t notice that apparently the Miracle Whip tagline is now: “Keep an open mouth.” So, does that mean everyone who likes Miracle Whip should keep their mouths open at all times? (Or must we all now do this by command of Miracle Whip? If it’s really a witch, it could force us to do it against our will with black magic!) And if so, then won’t this make everyone who likes Miracle Whip seem like a “mouth-breather”? And if not that, then at least won’t they drool out in public and stuff, and have bugs fly into their mouths, and look all silly and gross? It just kinda seems like it to me. And I’m not sure that’s the best thing for Miracle Whip, that’s all. Besides, if we keep an open mouth, then won’t we be in danger of having other stuff fly into it that we end up liking more than Miracle Whip? And then they will have been beaten by their own tagline! (Oh, the irony!)

How about instead: “Keep an open mind, and keep a happy mouth.”? Or how about: “Life is sweet (and tangy).”?

Or, maybe they could say: “Miracles come to those who keep an open mouth!”, or: “Let Miracle Whip come in your mouth: You’ll be glad you did!” Then they could have ads where someone walks down the street with their mouth open, and some Miracle Whip comes squirting at them, and it goes right into their mouth, and they say: “Mmmmm! Delicious!” (Actually, they could do this with the tagline they are currently using, and it would be a great way to make fun of this campaign. But they couldn’t make an ad like that, I don’t think, or at least not for television for real; but maybe for the Internet.)

(BTW: These are not serious suggestions. I’m just making fun of it. I think this tagline: “Keep an open mouth” is well-intentioned, like the great Taco Bell tagline: “Think outside the bun” (which could also make people joke that Taco Bell gives you diarrhea by saying: “Think outside your buns.”). I just think this keeping one’s mouth forever open suggests many unintentionally funny and inappropriate scenarios, and as such it causes some problems. But hey: maybe the more you make fun of it, the more you’ll be thinking about how much you want a big, heaping spoonful of Miracle Whip in your mouth, and you’ll go out and buy some. I’m just not convinced that will realistically happen. But I like the intent with this tagline a lot; I just think it nevertheless misses the mark. But an “A” for effort.)

Budweiser Historical American Moments Ad

This is the wonderful-looking Super Bowl ad where they show scenes from American history, like the end of Prohibition, V-J Day, etc., and the music is some guy rapping over the great classic song “She Sells Sanctuary” by The Cult, from back when I was in school. And everyone is enjoying a bottle of Budweiser in celebration of these events. (Wow: what are the chances they’d all be choosing the same beer to drink in all these important historical reinactments? It’s almost like it was staged or something!)

Okay, I love this commercial, except for one thing: They really should have used clips of period music for each of the scenarios they showed in the spot. Most people probably are familiar enough with the period music, so long as the ad people chose the right tracks. But seriously: having some guy rap over a great Rock N’ Roll classic just kills whatever period feel they worked so hard to achieve with the visuals and all the film production. (And that’s by far the most expensive part of making an ad like this!) Way to go, guys! (Maybe they could have used the same old song in different styles, constantly changing with the times, like, say, maybe: “The Charleston”, or even better, perhaps: “Happy Days Are Here Again”? And it could have gone from The Jazz Age through Big Band and Swing, Rock N’ Roll, Motown, Disco, Punk Rock, Hip Hop, etc., to match the time period of each historical moment shown. Simply record a version of the song in each style with the same click track, and then edit between the musical styles to match the image’s time period in the video. See what I mean? I think that would have worked extremely well to accentuate the period vignettes so they felt real, but also, since it would simply be swapping out musical styles of the same song, it would have felt entirely unobtrusive.)

And there’s another thing, too. (And I mean no disrespect here.) When you have some rapper talking over a great classic song, it kinda feels like some rude person is standing up in the audience and delivering a monologue over a great classic movie in a theater while I’m trying to watch the movie: it’s just an unwelcome distraction, like if someone spray-painted a graffiti tag over a masterpiece of painting in a museum. (Plus, since the song the rapper is talking over is actually from The Cult, an English band, it makes me think of England. But isn’t this commercial depicting important American historical events? It’s like using The Beatles’ music during footage of an Elvis concert! Seriously, no offense to England or anything, but this ad is about American historical moments! So how about using American music for American historical moments? I know, English music is great; but can’t we use American music just this once?) I understand that not all rappers can write music themselves, and some of these Hip Hop remixes are great (this one is pretty good, actually), but still: he’s talking over an English band’s music! And so, if he must talk over someone else’s song, how about having it be over an American song for scenes of Americana? Plus, Hip Hop remixes are not all that historically accurate for early 20th Century vignettes. This music just doesn’t work at all for this ad’s visual scenarios until the very end (I’m sorry, but it’s true.), so seriously: WTF?

But I’ll bet The Cult is laughing all the way to the bank! They’re a great band, by the way! Nothing against them. But context is everything, and here, this music does not work! It’s like if they showed us scenes from a famous old Opera, but we heard Punk Rock music accompanying it; or if we saw the Grand Ole Opry, but heard Hip Hop music instead: it simply sticks out like a sore thumb as being the wrong music cue for what filmed images we’re looking at, and as such it makes us feel like something has gone wrong with the TV set. And that distracts from the message of the commercial, which is why it’s inadvisable. It’s all about a clear message, you see. Or at least, it ought to be. And if you’re thinking about the appropriateness of the music selection, you’re not thinking about Budweiser. And then the ad doesn’t help them as much as it could. And let’s be clear here: that’s the only reason this ad exists: to help sell Budweiser.

And again, I love the visual elements and concept of this commercial, but for this ad to have worked perfectly, I think accompanying music appropriate to each historical era shown would have worked much better, especially if it’s switching between period-authentic performances of the same song (a well-known classic American celebratory song from the Prohibition era, like: “Happy Days Are Here Again”) to appropriately accompany the images, as I described above. And it’s disappointing to see such a great ad overshadowed by inappropriate music! I’m glad that this rapper is introducing The Cult to a new generation and everything, and no offense to him (I think this is a good piece of Hip Hop for sure), but it just isn’t appropriate music for the ‘30s, the ‘40s, the ‘50s, etc., and we all know it! It only really works for the contemporary block party scene at the very end of the spot. And it’s too bad, because with the right music clips, this ad would have been amazing for all ages to see, even if they don’t drink beer. And it would have been a great cultural time-capsule forever, as well as a beer ad! And for having that part of it screwed up after all the great work they did, this ad team should be truly disappointed indeed.

Here’s the Budweiser commercial I’m talking about:

And here’s an old recording of “Happy Days Are Here Again” from 1930 (The part of the song I would propose using begins at around 0:22 seconds, and the soundtrack could be swapped out for a different musical style for each scene change in a way that seemed accurate for the time period we’re being shown, all the way up to a Hip Hop/House/Techno remix for the DJ block party at the end, but done in such a way that the song never stops playing in sequence: it's just the musical style that changes, and not the song. I would also propose recording the song a bit more up-tempo to keep up with the energy and jubilation of the celebratory atmosphere in these scenes.):

LifeLock Checking Account Hijacking Hysteria Ad

In this ad for LifeLock, they continue their illustrious tradition of trying to make everyone paranoid about identity theft, and then they claim to offer services that protect you from such threats. (So they basically make you feel threatened, and then offer to mitigate this threat.) And all while LifeLock has been sued for deceptive practices by the government, as well as having collected a massive litany of consumer complaints too: nice! So apparently, you’d better get LifeLock despite perhaps possibly being victimized by them, since “the devil you know versus the devil you don’t” generally seems to be the common course of action for most people to take in these types of circumstances.

But this commercial is really funny to me, specifically because of how they choose to phrase the opening announcer copy. I can’t remember exactly what they say word for word, as they never seem to want to put their ads up online. Maybe that’s because then we would have concrete evidence to use in a false advertising dispute or lawsuit? And they’ve had them before (and settled them out of court or paid large fines*). But the basic gist is this: “Bank robbers stole $28 Million last year! Identity thieves? Try $28 Billion! (etc.)” And every time I hear this dialog, I immediately think it sounds like a challenge to identity thieves to attempt to steal that amount of money this year too (or perhaps even more!).

And why might a company such as LifeLock want to dare identity thieves into stealing lots and lots of money, and through the new suggested means of bank account takeovers? Well, obviously the more money identity thieves steal, the more people might think they need LifeLock to protect them! It’s kind of like when Head On headache remedies made those annoying ads that gave you a headache: they’re helping to create a problem, and then they offer the solution to it! So this is like the identity theft version of the old Head & Shoulders ads, where they proclaimed: “That little itch could be telling you that you have dandruff!” (You might not have dandruff at all, but once they got you worried about it, and then everyone started talking about the ads and the itchy-scalp thing, everyone would get all paranoid and buy their shampoo. Simply reprehensible! Thank goodness Head & Shoulders don’t go that route any longer! And I really wish LifeLock would stop it already with the paranoia/hysteria ads, as they are unseemly, and they generally reflect poorly upon the companies that employ them.)

BTW: I am not saying LifeLock is dishonest or disreputable, I’m simply stating the facts that their ads are shameless scare-tactic propaganda, and that they’ve had heaps upon heaps of complaints, lawsuits, and fraud allegations. But I’m simply stating facts here, not accusing them myself. Maybe they’re great, but simply misunderstood, or targeted by jealous rivals and no-longer-successful identity thieves out for revenge. (It is possible, you know; no matter how unlikely it seems.)

* This information is pretty widely available online, but check Wikipedia’s page for the bigger examples of lawsuits, false-advertising claims, fines, etc. (under the heading: “Controversy”):

Oh, and by the way, just because a company pays a fine or a settlement in a lawsuit, it doesn't necessarily mean they've done anything wrong (sometimes it costs so much to keep litigating stuff that it makes more sense just to pay a fine or a settlement just to get it over with), but it doesn't look good when that happens. That's why I think it's a bad idea to run a scare tactic ad campaign when you also have a history of consumer complaints and lawsuits and fraud allegations and stuff like that, because these scare tactic ads and high-pressure salesmanship generally make a company look kind of unscrupulous, and especially in a field like identity-theft protection, where the clients have to give all of their most sensitive personal information to the company, I really feel like the company needs to appear to be beyond reproach and absolutely, completely trustworthy. And this hysteria-generating advertising strategy makes them seem more predatory than immaculate. See what I mean? So I'm just commenting on LifeLock's ad strategy, and how it's perhaps inadvisable when they have a track record of complaints and such like they do. But maybe this is the only way they can get clients, and I have seen their more sober, informational ads, and they're really boring. So I may be wrong about this. It's just that for something as serious as identity theft, this scare tactic strategy leaves a bad taste in my mouth: that's all.

But I love their lock mascot with the police siren light on its head: that's a really inspired stroke of brilliance! It's extremely memorable as a corporate logo & mascot, and that's just great marketing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dead Kennedys Songs in Ads?

A little over a decade ago, I seem to recall that there was a lawsuit between Jello Biafra and the rest of the band Dead Kennedys over royalties or something, and the accusation was made by Biafra that the other bandmates simply wanted to “sell out” and allow the song “Holiday in Cambodia” to be used in a Levi’s ad. Now, I could see why a brand like Levi’s would want that kind of underground cool associated with their brand, but if you’re going to put Dead Kennedys songs in TV ads, then shouldn’t they be germane to the product somehow? After all, their songs made statements, and just using it as background music seems like a waste! What do I mean? Well, here are some examples of how I feel Dead Kennedys songs could be used appropriately in ads:

“Kill the Poor”: Some SuperPAC could make an ad about welfare reform, and talk about how anyone who tries to fix the system so it’s sustainable really just wants to (and the song’s chorus starts): “Kill kill kill kill kill the poor, kill kill kill kill kill the poor (etc.)!” (Or maybe they could use it as an attack ad against some candidate {probably a Republican: like, say, maybe Mittens}, claiming he wants to: “Kill kill kill kill kill the poor…”)

“Stealing People’s Mail”: Some identity-theft-protection service could start their ad with this song, which describes delinquents knocking down mailboxes and stealing people’s mail, and then the ad could talk about how stolen mail can lead to identity theft, etc., and they can protect you, blah, blah…

“Dog Bite”: (This one is a little bit tricky, since they’d have to alter the lyrics somewhat. But this whole post is just a joke, so I really hope they don’t get mad at me! I’m actually a big fan of theirs!) In an ad for Beggin’ Strips brand dog treats, the song “Dog Bite” could be altered to sing: “Dog bite, Beggin’ Strips! Makes Spot, lick his lips!” And: “Dog bite, Beggin’ Strips! Makes Spot, want mo-o-ore! Mo-o-ore!”

“Too Drunk To F*ck”: Well, this one would be perfect for Viagra or Cialis, wouldn’t it? (Maybe as an internet-only ad?) And the song could play, and then the announcer could chime in and say: “Think you’re too drunk to f*ck? You’re never too drunk to f*ck with Cialis, because it works for a full 36-hours, so you’ll be ready anytime the moment is right! And yes, even if you think you’re too drunk to f*ck! No more excuses: Cialis makes it happen!”

“Your Emotions”: This song says: “Your emotions, make you a monster!” So then this song would work well logically in an ad for an antidepressant like Paxil or Abilify. Or maybe they could use it for some PMS-relief like Midol or something. The announcer could say, after the chorus: “Are your emotions making you into a monster? Then try (product), and you’ll be tamed fast, guaranteed!”

Well, this is all just a big joke, so I hope Dead Kennedys don’t make me one of the Dead Gregorys for writing this! If they haven’t caved for ads yet, they probably never will. But remember the Ramones? Once the original songwriters (mostly) all died, their music found its way into lots and lots of ads! So someday, maybe we’ll hear “Funland at the Beach” in an ad for Coppertone? Maybe? Or maybe “California Über Alles” for Jerry Brown’s next re-election campaign ads? (It is about him, so it would be perfect! Maybe Brown could even claim “Fair Use”? It would definitely have lots of hipster appeal if he used it “ironically” in his campaign.) Or how about having “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” become the theme song for The Rent Is Too Damn High Party? No? Too far, that one?

New T-Mobile Girl Black Leather Motorcycle Ads?

Now that the T-Mobile girl is no longer “Mr. Nice Girl”, maybe she can take on a more badass character and start kicking some butt! And if they want to say T-Mobile’s 4G network is better, stronger, faster, etc., than the competition’s, then why not give the T-Mobile girl a Samurai sword, and let her ride by and decapitate the Verizon “Can you hear me now?” guy, eviscerate those insufferable AT&T “That is so 30-seconds-ago!” people, etc. Now that might really get a cheer, and nobody could possibly miss the message of the spot.

And then, perhaps to sell a service for less money and with less complicated bills, they could have the T-Mobile girl dress up in a pink & black version of Uma Thurman’s yellow & black outfit, and call the spot: “Kill Bill”, where she’s going to help us kill the sky-high and overly-complex bills of other carriers. (Now admit it: that would be pretty cool, yes?)

The Birds 2?

Hey! Someone is remaking Hitchcock’s The Birds! That’s great, because now someone will probably make what I’ve always been waiting for: The Birds 2! It should be called: The Birds 2: Birdwatcher Massacre, and the ads could scream: “We thought they were our fine feathery friends, but now we’re all bird feed for The Birds!” And it could be made in “Feath-o-rama”! Then they could make The Birds 3: Tweety Terror! in terrifying “Tweet-o-rama”.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mad Cows in California? (New Ad Campaign?)

The news says there has been a confirmed case of mad cow in California. So there are mad cows in California? I thought only happy cows were in California! The ads said so! Were they, perhaps (Gasp!) exaggerating the mood of the cows here? Oh, the bovinity!

Oh, but wait. Perhaps this can be turned to our advantage somehow! I believe that “happy cows” campaign for California cheese is over now, as I haven’t seen any of them running for a little while at this point. So what they could do is this: There could be a new ad for California cheese where they say: “We told you before that happy cows come from California, and that happy cows from California make California cheese. Oh, but you must not be buying enough California cheese, because the cows in California are starting to get mad! And you know what that means! If you don’t go out and buy more California cheese, these mad cows are going to come after you! So quick: buy California cheese right now! Save yourselves! Otherwise, it will look like ‘the running of the bulls’ in your town: only with cows stampeding everyone instead of bulls!”

Here’s the sad cow story:

Heinz Ketchup Anticipation (Joke) Anti-Ad

Heinz Ketchup is the most popular in the world, and famous for their old “anticipation” ads where people would have to hold the bottle upside-down forever to get the ketchup to come out (whereupon it all comes out at once like a pressurized waterfall). (<Oh, sorry: that’s what happens in real life; in the ad, it doesn’t happen like that.) That’s because it’s so thick and rich, and this waiting for it to start its ruthless and unstoppable descent was referred to as “anticipation”, and celebrated with that classic Carly Simon song: “Anticipation”. (She really likes ketchup a lot, apparently!)

Oh, but who’s got time for such dawdling nowadays in this high-pressure business world, where a missed meeting could spell disaster for your job and your company? (Heinz actually solved this issue with the squeeze-bottle years ago, but let’s eschew that fact and pretend they didn’t, just for the fun of it, shall we? Thanks!) So some competing ketchup company (probably spelling it “catsup” just to be contrary! The nerve!) could bash Heinz as a heartless company that doesn’t care what happens to people due to them having to waste precious time waiting for their ketchup to start flowing, and the disaster that might befall them. (This would work particularly well, since the Heinz fortune is with those ultra-rich 1%’ers, Senator John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. Maybe Mitt Romney’s campaign could make the ads to distract from his “Richie Rich-ery”?) So the ad would go something like this:

A high-powered-looking young man in a business suit sits at a diner table with some other workmates as he is served a hamburger. He takes the bottle of Heinz ketchup and opens it, pointing it upside-down over his hamburger. The song: “Anticipation” starts playing, and he says: “Oh, my God! I’m so hungry, and my meeting is in like five minutes! I don’t have time for this right now!” Then we get a clock graphic superimposed over the image, and 5 minutes of time flies by, seeing him still holding the bottle of ketchup over his burger with no ketchup yet coming out. So one of the guy’s workmates says: “Hey, it’s been like five minutes, I think.” And so the businessman says: “What? But… Now I’m going to be late for my meeting! And I’m so hungry, I can hardly think straight! Damn you, Heinz ketchup!” And then the guy runs off, and we cut to him arriving late to an empty meeting room, whereupon he learns that his company has lost the sale, which puts the company out of business, and everyone loses their job! And all because of Heinz ketchup! Then the competing, um, catsup (ahem!), says Heinz is too high-and-mighty to worry about the fast-moving business world the rest of us must occupy, and that’s because they’re 1%’ers! And so to eat a catsup that cares, try Occupy brand catsup! (It’ll occupy your taste-buds with flavor, and your tummy with delight! Favored by the 99% of catsup eaters who don’t have oodles of expendable leisure time to waste!)

STP Gas Treatment “Death Proof” (Joke) Ad

“Stuntman” Mike from Death Proof stands next to his 1971 Chevy Nova, pours some STP Gas Treatment into his gas tank, and then speaks to the camera. He says: “Hi, I’m Stuntman Mike. If you’re like me, you rely on your car to catch and kill your prey. And you’re never gonna get ‘em if you can’t catch ‘em, right? That’s why I use STP Gas Treatment! It gives my car that extra kick it needs to catch my victims. It’s “killer”, every time: guaranteed! That’s STP Gas Treatment: Don’t be caught dead without it!”

And the tag of the ad has Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms and Zoë Bell say: “Damn straight!” And then Tracie Thoms says: “He got caught dead with it!” (As in, they used it too, and caught him.)

New American Classic Poems Based upon American Cities

Ogden Nash once wrote the whimsical salute to an American metropolitan area:

The Bronx? No Thonx.

So in this illustrious literary tradition of great American verse based upon American metropolitan areas, I add this new, timeless classic:

Southwest Philly? Don’t Be Silly!

I’m not sure who wrote it, but it definitely wasn’t me!

Oh, and some other classic American writer once wrote:

Mobile, Alabama? No Deal, Alabama.

I’m afraid I don’t know who wrote that either, but it definitely wasn’t me either.

(Actually, I like both of these towns. But they rhyme well with stuff, don’t they?)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Christiane Amanpour’s Almond Pour

With a name like Amanpour, can you really afford not to start a brand of coffee creamer substitutes called: “Amanpour’s Almond Pour”? She could sell this stuff like she sells her news stories: with honesty, integrity, and gravitas! And as a news reporter, it would be a perfect fit to sell something like a non-dairy coffee creamer, right? She could say something like this in the ads:

“Hi. I’m Christiane Amanpour, here for my new Almond Pour coffee creamer substitute. If you’re like me, you love coffee; but in a job like mine, you have to drink a lot of it, which can be hard on your stomach. Plus, as a journalist, I’m always on the go, driving out into the desert and other ‘hot-spots’ around the world for days at a time! You can’t bring cream with you where I have to go: it would simply go bad! That’s why I’ve created Amanpour’s Almond Pour: It’s the take-anywhere coffee creamer substitute with the great flavor of all-natural almonds! It’s got great taste, and quality you can trust, just like my reporting! That’s Amanpour’s Almond Pour: Ask for it by name wherever newspapers are sold!”

Then some announcer guy could tack on an ending like: “You don’t have to be rich to get the rich taste of Amanpour’s Almond Pour! I’m a-pourin’ it in my coffee right now!”

Mmmm! I can almost taste that rich almond flavor in my coffee now!

Michael Kitchen’s Kitchen

I love Masterpiece Mystery, so naturally I love Foyle’s War, and the star of that series is Michael Kitchen. I was just thinking about how much fun it would be to have a restaurant based upon Foyle’s War, where everyone wears period 1940s-vintage clothes, and the place is like an English pub from that time. And in this place, one of the employees gets “killed” every night, and everyone in the restaurant plays a sort of Clue-like game to figure out whodunit. And it would always be something over pride, or money, or army corruption, or something like that, all played out over the background of WWII England. Now, wouldn’t that be fun?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Star Trek Ad (Proposed)

Star Trek commercial-break-end music plays, and we see Captain Kirk on one of those cheesy planet surfaces from the TV-series, with the sparkly Styrofoam rocks, and the Fuller’s Earth on the ground, and he pulls out his communicator, opens it, and says: “Kirk to Enterprise: One to beam up!” So they beam him up, and we see him get all gold & sparkly, and he starts de-materializing.

Then we cut to Captain Kirk being beamed up into the transporter bay, only this one is in an Enterprise Rent-A-Car office, and not the Starship Enterprise; and everyone is wearing Star Trek uniforms, except that the shirts are green, rather than the gold, blue, or red. And so Captain Kirk walks up to the desk, and he says he’s got to go “Warp 6”, and so they give him the keys to a car, which turns out to be a Corvette, and Mr. Scott is there (in his usual red shirt), and he says: “She’s ready for you to come aboard, Sir!” And then Captain Kirk gets in and drives off.

Then, the announcer tells us that they’ve got deals that are “out of this world”, and that their service and selection will “set you on stun” (!), and then they show the splash screen with the Enterprise logo and stuff, but with Star Trek music behind it. And then for the tag, we cut back into the office, and Patrick Stewart is materializing in the transporter bay, but like he would in Star Trek: The Next Generation. And someone says: “Here comes another one…”

Anyway, it might be too expensive to license, but nobody would ever forget this ad! And all the nerds on Planet Earth would surely always beam up to the Enterprise from now on to rent their cars! (Plus, they could sell the fake green Star Trek shirts as novelties, and they’d be sure to be very popular with Star Trek fans on St. Patrick’s Day! {They’d probably become collector’s items, actually!}) Plus, with this new movie series, they could just get Chris Pine to be Captain Kirk (and all the new cast, etc.), and they could tie it into the next movie release! (Tie-ins are all the rage!) And they could have Mr. Spock say it’s “logical” to use Enterprise Rent-A-Car, etc. It’s practically endless what they could do with this!

(On the USS Defiant: “Star Date {whatever}: The Klingons have set rental car prices so high, it’s destroying the Federation! What shall we do?” And the “Starship Enterprise” {a space rental car office that looks like the Starship Enterprise} shows up out of warp, and signals them, and they get their cars for going down to a planet surface, and then the captain says to the landing crew: “Man! Now we get to ride in style! Remember what it used to be like? Walking everywhere? This is so much better…!”)

The Omen of Rosemary’s Baby: It’s Alive!

My sister sent me a link to a really fun blog called “PLANET OF TERROR!!”, and thereupon I saw some post about changing the endings of old movies, and the first in this series was about the great classic horror film: Rosemary’s Baby. Now, for some reason, I’ve always linked this movie together in my head with that silly 70s killer-baby movie It’s Alive, and then connected it with The Omen, which is using a very similar theme and idea and story like sort of thing. So I always figured it like this: At the end of Rosemary’s Baby, we don’t get to see the baby, but we hear it’s all evil- and deformed-looking. So that always made me think of Larry Cohen’s silly murderous-baby movie It’s Alive. And then there’s The Omen, where a couple adopts Satan’s brat, and he tries to take over the world through politics (which melds very well with Holocaust 2000, etc.).

So I’ve always seen these movies in my fevered imagination as being somehow intrinsically linked together, and somehow as sequels of sorts. All they would have to do would be to change a little teensy bit of plot at the beginning or the end, and it would work perfectly! So maybe they could even make a TV mini-series out of it on like the SyFy Channel, riddled with bad digital effects, and call it: The Omen of Rosemary’s Baby: It’s Alive!

Now admit it: You want to see it, don’t you? Especially if it leads to Holocaust 2000!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

T-Mobile Black Leather “Alter Ego” Motorbike Ad

Okay, here we have the T-Mobile girl ditch her usual prim & proper sundress for a black & pink motorcycle outfit. (People are making a really big deal out of this, but I really feel I must point out that she has already appeared in an ad in a skin-tight leather motorcycle outfit: that one hot pink & white leather. And that was really great, too! So this is just a color thing, and not some new hot side to her we’ve never seen before. I’ll attach this ad, too.) Then she takes an elevator down to the basement and jumps on an Italian Ducati (Hey: Buy American! How about a roaring Harley chopper?) and zooms off into the night like she’s Batgirl or something. Maybe they could have her fight the evil corporate mascots of other cell-phone providers? (Like maybe Candace Bergen as Murphy Brown from Sprint?) Or maybe beat-up super-villains like Roaming Man, or Unexpected Charges Man, or Ironclad Contract Man! (Or do they profiteer off of that stuff too? I don’t have T-Mobile, so I don’t know.)

And this ad looks great, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a bit of a messaging issue for me, and it has everything to do with what little language they’re using. They say: “No more Mr. Nice Girl.” (MISTER Nice Girl?) And then they say: “It’s time to set the record straight!” So is she trans-gendered? Is this the big reveal they’re going to make here? They call her “Mr. Nice Girl”, and then say there’s a big thing they have to set the record straight about. Well, I’m not trying to act like there’s anything wrong with trans-gendered people, but that’s the message this ad appears to be implying here, or at least, that’s how it seems to me. Does anyone else see that too? It just seems like they’re using language that teases us to think she’s a “she-male” or something. And that’s fine with me, if that’s the direction they want to go in with their brand, but if that’s not what they want to tell us, then it’s kind of a big distraction from what they do want to say. Don’t you think? (I mean, we’ve already seen her in a tight leather motorcycle outfit with a super-bike, so what else is new, here? It’s nighttime?)

Plus, electronica music for a leather biker babe ad? Are you guys crazy? How about some Mötley Crüe (like: “Kickstart My Heart”), or some early Metallica (like: “Motorbreath”), for God’s sake! Honestly! (This ain’t no disco, after all! {For those who don’t get that reference, that’s from a Talking Heads song about the legendary club where they got their start: CBGB’s, also a real punk & metal haven! That’s where I used to play, too!})

Here’s the sexy, sultry, rubber-squealing, tailpipe-smoking spot (Va-Va-Voom!: Literally.):

And here’s Mr. Nice Girl’s pink & white leather motorcycle outfit ad:

Here’s another take on this ad, that feels a bit more, um, I don’t know, maybe a bit “propaganda-y”?:

Hertz Auto Bliss Ad

Here we have mean old Hertz trying to spoil the sales of auto dealerships and drive them all out of business. And not only that, they’re bursting King Kong’s bubble, pushing around some skinny wind-sock people, and giving a previously joyous clown a frowny face! Shame on you guys! You’re just a bunch of bullies, intent on inflicting pain upon your competitors and your customers! “Traveling at the speed of Hertz”? More like: “We Hertz our competitors!”

Actually, this spot is cute looking, but with the sound off, it plays out like they’re just driving around ruining everyone else’s fun.

And that slogan: “Traveling at the speed of Hertz”; how about instead: “Quality so good it Hertz”, or “Service so good, it Hertz”? Or, hey, why not: “Hertz so good!”? (And then they could use that John Cougar Mellencamp song: “Hurt So Good” as their theme song!)

Oh, but then I guess their competitors could bash them with that Linda Ronstadt song: “Hurt So Bad”, and say their terrible service makes it “Hertz so bad” to rent a car from them (!).

Here’s the snarky spot:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Captain Morgan Black Secret Passage Ad

Man! This is the best liquor ad ever! Oh, my goodness: if you’re not an alcoholic already, this will make you want to be one! It’s just an instant classic! It’s like the best pirate party movie of all time, and we get to see it for free on TV! Awesome!

I think this is what most teenagers think drinking is like already anyway: forbidden, and awesome. And with this pirate theme, it just can’t miss with the rebellion and the secret worlds and stuff. Next they ought to make a vampire brand of liquor, and show that brand’s mascot abducting hot chicks in silky nightgowns from their beds at night and partying in their coffins together, and all because of the cinnamon red rum, or whatever. And the coffin could open up to reveal this impossibly large interior, like in Dr. Who’s TARDIS Police box, with a whole sumptuous castle-esque room with a Mark Levinson stereo with Wilson Audio speakers blasting Black Sabbath, and a silk-covered canopy bed, and with lit candelabras and tapestries everywhere. I’m telling you: that’s what’s next, here! And then they could say it will give you “life beyond the grave” if you drink their “blood” rum. And then they could say that if your life has become “drained”, you can drink their product and be “resurrected” as a “passionate creature of the night”! (Oh, and a competing product could be called: “Stake!”: It stakes that lame blood rum! Or maybe: “Lycan!”: It’s the vampire’s worst nightmare! And then they could have ads like the movie series Underworld, where Lycans are killing vampires and partying better, and showing how drinking a slug of Lycan can make you morph into a powerful werewolf beast, with hot chicks crawling all over you; and they could say: “Lycan can turn you into a ‘party beast’!” {And the ad would feature the song “Werewolf of London”, and go: “A-Woooooo!”; or they could use “Who Let the Dogs Out?”, and say: “Lycan: Let your dog out!”}) Oh, sorry, I'm getting carried away here, aren't I?

Oh, hey: Maybe they could even make British Royal Navy Rum to compete with Captain Morgan Rum, and then have the Beefeater Gin mascot execute Captain Morgan in the Tower of London (!). And the same company could make all of this stuff, and just set everyone against each other in their ads, like if a company made “Crimson Tide Rum” and “War Eagle Vodka” at the same time! And just build the rivalries in the ads and sell, sell, sell!

I’m not so sure that allowing liquor advertising on TV is the best idea, just like it’s (even more) dumb to allow pharmaceutical ads (shouldn’t your doctor tell you what you need?); but if they’re going to allow it (and I love the ads, don’t get me wrong; and I like the ad jobs too: it’s just that it’s like advertising cocaine on TV: it’s addictive stuff, this liquor!), then it doesn’t get much better than this. In fact, this whole new-ish Captain Morgan campaign with this blockbuster pirate movie theme, and all these naughty partying situations, is about the best you can get to advertise something like liquor. These guys are heroes and villains at the same time, and there’s just nothing a teenager loves more than a rebellious anti-hero! (And these ads just keep getting better and better, too! I wish I had their job! {And with these great results, too!} Man: I love and hate them at the same time! {Actually, that’s just an expression: these ads are not only ads, they’re cultural signposts! These guys who came up with and made these ads are like media superheroes! They're the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby of liquor ads, or just of ads, period!} I bow down to the masters!)

But perhaps, just to bring us back to reality, every once-in-a-while, maybe they ought to make a Captain Morgan ad where his pirate ship gets pulled-over by the British fleet for drunk sailing, or he gets charged with statutory rape and kidnapping for abducting some pretty young thing into his underground party lair. Because that would seem more like real life. (Oh, but real life is not what advertising is all about! That’s why it works so well!)

Here’s the Captain’s clandestine corrupting commercial (this is the long version, because apparently you’re not allowed to watch online the same ad you can see on TV whether you like it or not, and this is the only one I could find that didn’t force you to create an account and prove you’re 21 to see it {!!}. But the 30-second spot is better, I think, as a TV ad.):

Tidy Cats Pine Tree Car Freshener Ad

Here we have a couple trying to enjoy an evening in together watching TV with their cats, but they keep getting rained-on by car fresheners! Then they show the couple from behind and with the camera angle pointing up at the ceiling, and we see that the whole ceiling is covered with those green pine-tree car-fresheners (!). (I guess Repo Man neglected to tell us that you’ll find one in every house too!) Well, this is not only a great ad for Tidy Cats cat litter, they could also slap an ad for tape on there at the end, where they say if you used Scotch-brand tape, these tree thingies would never rain down on you like this! So then you’d be doubly-protected against litter-box odor!

I love this ad, except for one thing: This is obviously a secret new front in the deadly “War on Christmas”! They’re smearing these Christmas tree-shaped deodorizers just because they look like Christmas trees! You know it’s true! Next it will be manger deodorizers they’ll slander: you’ll see! (But are there even any manger deodorizers? Well, maybe that’s a new business model: make stuff people will protest against, and get all the free advertising that comes with the protests! It can’t miss! Although a manger might not smell so good, so maybe find another kind of deodorizer that is guaranteed to spark protests? That’s the ticket!)

Here’s the car-freshening cat-litter commercial:

LG Lucid Lisa’s Universe Ad

Here we have a totally cute young woman talking to herself inside her head, except that everyone can hear her, so she must be telekinetic or something, like Carrie. So the crazy voice inside her head convinces her to go get a smartphone because the universe likes her outfit, or something, and she falls for it. Um, I mean, she jumps at this great opportunity!

But when she finds out her monthly bills are all over $100 apiece, will she lash out at everyone in a violent blood-reckoning, and call Galactus to destroy the universe in revenge for tricking her into getting this phone? Maybe we can find out, in the next exciting episode of: Lisa, Smartphone Psychic! (<Please provide a booming echo-y voice for this fake TV-show title, like that of SNL’s Don Pardo.)

Here’s the silly spot:

BTW: This is Galactus, if you didn’t know:

And this proves he’s real (and it also ties up nicely with the Chick Publications reference I made in my post: “Preg, Nancy” yesterday):

New Gatorade Bottle

Hey! They just fixed the problem with Gatorade! No, sorry: they didn’t start calling it “Gatorade” again, it’s still called: “G” (blow-a-raspberry sound effect). But what they did is even better! They’ve got a new bottle now, and it fixes all the old problems from before! You see, the biggest problem I used to have with Gatorade was that they always used to give me too much of it, and always for too little money, and in a shape I instantly recognized! (Sarcasm!) Well, they’ve fixed that now with this new bottle shape, that finally gives us less product for the same price (but will probably be more money very soon)! It’s perfect!

Hey, thanks, Gatorade! Now your stuff looks as lame as Powerade! (And that makes me think it is, too!) And I agree: screw success, let’s play around with it until we finally find failure! You’ll get there eventually: just keep on trying! (Dummies! Have you ever heard of the expression: “Don’t mess with success”? Well, you’re messing with it, guys!)

Holy crap! Do I really have to sit here and tell Gatorade for free how to not step into the traps of their marketing company? I mean, really! I guess they hate success! Oh, well…

Even if they are now selling us 4-ounces-less of liquid for the same price as before, they are now losing that immediately-recognizable bottle shape that I would have automatically grabbed-for until I died. But not now: for this new bottle looks like something else entirely. I hardly even recognized it! Well, I guess you guys know what you’re doing, right? According to the sales figures I’ve seen, you guys have spent lots of money to re-brand an already-famous and well-known brand as something most people don’t know as well, and now you’re spending even more money to ruin your trademark bottle design: great job, guys! So when you earn a loss next year vs. your marketing spending costs, look me up, and I’ll show you for free how to undo it all. (Okay, I’ll tell you now: Go back to calling it “Gatorade”, and use your famous and instantly-recognizable bottle design! Nobody wanted you to change it, except for the guys who tricked you into doing it for money! You are already a successful icon, so you’re only doing yourselves damage with this unnecessary re-design! Duh. Have you ever heard of brand identity? You used to have it in spades! Now, it’s getting shaky, and you’re heading into “New Coke” territory. Are you about to switch to corn syrup from sugar?)

And I only care because I love Gatorade (and I have for years)! It feels like you’re killing someone I love right in front of me! Aaaarrrggghhh! (Okay, it's not really that bad. And apparently, only 7-11 carries these new bottle shapes. Go figure. I thought they were replacing the bottle design for good. So hopefully they are not doing that now?)

BTW: When I wrote this, a whole store where I live replaced their entire stock of Gatorade (oh, sorry, I mean: "G") bottles with these new bottles I'm complaining about here. But since this time, it has become clear that only this one store (7-11) has the new, differently-shaped and slightly smaller-volume bottles. So maybe they either axed the new bottles, they ship them only to one company, or else all the other stores are still selling their old stock of the old bottles, which must be massively overstocked indeed! I don't really know which. But the new bottles, despite their new, more generic shape, are much easier to open, so at least there's that. But since Gatorade has lots of carbs and is as such fattening, perhaps the impossible-to-open caps are designed to help us burn off a few extra calories.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Poor Partying Pippa’s Parisian Pistol Ploy Problem

Hey Pippa: Did you think you could just go live your life and stuff? No way! Your sister married a handsome prince, so you belong to us now! Mwa ha ha! Or at least, that’s what it seems like…

You can’t just live your life! From now on, every little teensy perceived slight you “commit” shall be nailed to the wall as an example for all the world, if only to sell newspapers (since they’ve got to distract from the phone-hacking scandal, you know!).

So please remember all children (and jealous adults) are living vicariously through you now, and that means you’re not allowed to do anything anymore, especially if it’s fun. Don’t blame me; blame your sister: It’s her fault!

Here’s the princess blooper:

Jar Lids, Bottle Caps, and the Robot Takeover

Man! I just had the worst time trying to get the cap off a bottle of Gatorade (oh, sorry: I mean, “G” {blow-a-raspberry sound effect!}), and it simply served to remind me of how all our bottle caps and jar lids are on so tight nowadays that they’re sometimes next-to-impossible to get off! Who would do something like that? Oh, but it’s not a “who”, but rather, a “what”, is it? That’s right: All of our food and drink packaging is assembled by robots these days, isn’t it? (!!!: Horror movie music stab, please.)

That’s right! Robots are trying to make life miserable for us with their screwing-on-too-tight-cap stuff! You know it’s true! (They’re even trying to prevent human reproduction by making all men look weak to women with this jar-cap ploy!) They may not be ready to take over Earth from humanity yet, but they’re biding their time! And while they can’t independently poison our food yet, they can do one thing: They can keep us from eating anything by sealing the packaging too tight for us to get into it! You know that’s what they’re doing here! What else could it be? And then when we’re all really weak with hunger, and we’re focusing all of our energy into trying to open that jar, they’ll strike! And we’ll never know what hit us! You know it’s coming: Prepare yourselves!

Preg, Nancy

Hey, in order to teach kids about sex, rather than have some creepy teacher do it in school, how about making a comic book about it? It could show the adventures of Nancy Preg, high school student and sexual experimenter who gets pregnant, and then they use this comic book story heroine as a way to teach about human reproduction, but also use it as a cautionary tale. Then in later episodes she could get different kinds of venereal diseases and all the social stigmas that are associated with such things, like mean gossip and being branded a “slut”, etc. Maybe this could even be a new character on the illustrious roster of Chick Publications, the fun little comic books that tell many disparate stories about how you’re going to roast in hell in very short order if you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior right this minute.

And you can see them all, I think right here, if you want to (And I’m telling you, if you’re not familiar with them, you are missing out on one of life’s great experiences if you don’t look at these! I’m not kidding! In fact, you must read them all, or else you will be cast into the lake of fire!):

And here’s the Wikipedia page for Chick Publications:

BTW: I learned about sex in Sex Ed. class at Catholic School, where we were taught by a 25-year-old track coach who was so humiliated to teach this stuff, he was joking about it most of the time, and nobody could even make eye-contact with each other as a result! Plus, I was a good student, so I was in the “smart class”, and so were all the hot girls, so this guy had to teach a class-full of hot 16-year-old girls in Catholic Schoolgirl uniforms (and me) about fornication, and he was always wearing those short, skin-tight polyester shorts that gym teachers wear, so he had to try to hide his boner, so he ended up scooting around the room while sitting on his wheeled chair in front of the blackboard all the time! (And he didn’t fool anybody!) And this is why I think some people oppose Sex Ed. in schools!

American International Pictures

I grew up loving monster movies, so naturally, I own and have read both Roger Corman’s book How I Made 100 Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime, and Samuel Arkoff’s book Flying Through Hollywood by the Seat of My Pants, and while they’re great, I still think someone ought to write the definitive history of American International Pictures, and call it: Judge a Movie by its Poster: The American International Pictures Story. I say this because that’s how they used to get their movies made, according to them. Apparently, Jim Nicholson would come up with an exploitation-y-sounding title, like: I Was a Teenage Mummy, or something like that, and then they’d get someone to make a flashy poster for the movie, whereupon they would take this poster out to meetings with financiers to try to get the money to make the movie with, and only after this would they actually go out and hire someone to write the story and a script. And that’s just amazing! So while other people spent years honing their craft, etc., these guys just dove in and got stuff made with good old-fashioned huckstering and snake-oil salesmanship! Hilarious! (Plus, most of the current great luminary directors got their start there, learning how to get stuff done on-time and on-budget {and then instantly forgetting that part once they “made it big”!}.)

And I say that, because the movie was never anywhere near as good as the poster was, but it didn’t even matter, because these guys were smart enough to understand that kids just wanted an excuse to get out of the house and out from under the watchful-eyes of their parents and guardians! And by making silly cheap-o horror movies, they could be pretty sure that no old people would be there to see the movie and spoil the kids’ fun anyway! So it was perfect! And while other studios made enormous big-budget epics and blockbuster-hopefuls, trying to compete with television, these guys made even more profit by making schlock on a shoestring because of their better-understanding of the movie market. And that’s just a great underdog story! Art, schmart: They were smart! (Actually, maybe that should be the book’s title!)

Here’s the Wikipedia page for American International Pictures, so you can “read all about it!”:

Giallo Movies

I love Giallo movies. They’re really fun. They show lots of silly, twisted crime and murder, but they’re still fun and crazy, and they have wonderfully ridiculous plots too. I’m not crazy about slasher movies, and I actually detest the glorification of serial killers in our society, but I still love Giallo movies. How is this possible? Well…

For one thing, Giallo movies almost always show everybody involved in some sordid affair or another, and as they’re killed one-by-one, is seems much more like they were getting their comeuppance. Even where this is not true, they’re usually such unlikable characters that you love watching them being killed in a torrent of obvious acrylic red paint and wax mannequin parts. And even if they’re not “asking for it”, it’s so stylishly accomplished that it’s so entertaining and artistic and fake that it’s hard to take it seriously. (I know, I know: Umberto Lenzi will kill me for saying this! But at least he’ll do it with style!)

But seriously, ask Roger Ebert what he thinks about The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, or Deep Red, and he’ll probably say stuff about how wonderfully it’s all accomplished, and how stylistically beautiful it is, and what a wonderful homage to Hitchcock it is, etc., and how it’s so hyper-real, it’s hard to take it seriously anyway, so it’s just great entertainment. (I’m not trying to put words in his mouth, however. Maybe he hates them. But I doubt it.)

But ask him what he thinks of Friday the 13th! He’d probably say it’s a disgusting display of wanton murder and gore that’s worse than a human slaughterhouse (and he’d be partially right). The fact is, the Giallo movies have some type of plot mechanism that makes everything happen, whereas slasher movies rarely do. In Halloween 2, we “find out” that Jamie Lee Curtis is (Gasp!) Michael Myers’s secret long-lost sister, and that’s why he’s trying to kill her (!!!!!!!). But the original movie worked so well because she only earned the wrath of our apparently-deathless serial-killing loony because she just so happened to accidentally be there at his old house to drop off a realtor brochure (or whatever it was) when he happened to be there too, and so he followed her. So she, just by accident, managed to find herself in the crosshairs of a maniac (!): It could happened to any of us! See? It’s scary because it’s like real life: That guy you accidentally rear-end with your car could shoot you! There are crazy killers out there: Get it? And some chance meeting could cost you (or anyone) your life! That’s why it’s so creepy! (But once she’s his long-lost sister, and only he knows it, on some psychic level, and that’s the only reason he’s chasing her, it sucks.)

Oh, but I got lost in other slasher fare for a second, just like when Jamie Lee Curtis gets temporarily snared by her secret brother! Sorry. So what I meant to say was this: If you ask Roger Ebert about Friday the 13th, he probably won’t say this: “I love that movie because it’s about time somebody spoke up for all the kids who’ve drowned at summer camp! And what I like best is how Jason’s mother lets everyone who really did it get away with it, and then waits years and years, until everyone but her has completely forgotten about her son’s death, and then she slaughters the innocent, just to be sure no-one will ever senselessly die again like her son did! It’s perfect!” (Maybe he would say that now, but I doubt it!)

But the fact is, most of (um, maybe even, all of?) the deaths in Friday the 13th (and also in Friday the 13th, Part 2!) are copied directly out of a Mario Bava movie called: Reazone a Catena (which means: “Chain Reaction” in English), otherwise known as A Bay of Blood, or Twitch of the Death Nerve (or any number of alternate titles). Ask Roger Ebert what he thinks of that movie, and you’d probably get a very different response! And to some people, it might seem hypocritical; but the fact is, they’re very different movies even though they’ve got lots of killings of people depicted, and in almost the same manner. Because, for one thing, the Bava movie was groundbreaking: even if you hate a new style, you’ve got to tip your hat to the one that “started it all”! And for another thing, the plot makes perfect sense and is great in the Bava movie! We’re all used to Friday the 13th now, so we rarely question it (and I like it too, because it’s the first “gore” movie I ever saw!), but the fact is (no disrespect intended), it was formulated as an exploitation movie simply to use gore to make some easy money off teenagers (which it did, and still does), and it was never intended as an “artistic statement” of any kind! So of course Roger Ebert would hate it: he’s got “class”, and “culture” and “an appreciation for art”. (The quotation marks are not intended as an insult, by the way!) It doesn’t! And it never meant to, either! Everyone was surprised when it became a smash hit, and maybe it was even Roger Ebert’s hating on it that made it launch through the stratosphere! (Kids love whatever adult “squares” hate, right? My father told me about Walter Cronkite reporting about how the hot & hip thing for young people to do was to “go streaking”, and overnight, it immediately ceased to be cool, simply because Walter Cronkite said it was.) But it is what it is, and art it ain’t!

Oh, but ask about the shower sequence from Psycho, and that’s an entirely different story! Why? Well, um, I think it was like Hitchcock, or something. But it was really groundbreaking, and it was really well-done, jolted people out of their seats, etc., and it started a new trend, etc. And it’s really great! But it also makes sense within the context of the story, because even without Norman Bates’s mother complex and insanity stuff yet, we all understand that Janet Leigh’s character has committed a crime, and even though it seems understandable, it’s still a crime, so when she decides to try to undo it, we all have sympathy for her, and then, just when we think it’s all settled: BAM! She gets stabbed to death by some crazy killer! Oh my God!! And we’re all riveted to our seats and devastated by this unexpected occurrence! (My sister had a feminist reading of this movie I didn’t initially understand {as a male teenager years ago} where she said Janet Leigh is just objectified for her body and trapped in this horrible life, and the only way she can find to get out of it is to steal some money, and then, once she tries to go back and make it right, she’s murdered by some psycho sex maniac! So women really have no escape! {And she’s right! That’s what it does say, kind-of! Yikes!}) So this is very effective, and artistically and stylistically, not to mention story-wise, really amazing for a horror movie, and it’s shocking and frightening and emotional all at the same time.

Oh, but what about a Giallo movie? Well, in a Giallo movie, some lady would murder for money some rich character-flaw-soaked pervert voyeur guy who loved and doted on her for her looks alone, which disgusted her but which she put up with for the promise of money, but then the guy makes a new will leaving everything to his dog and he tells her about it, so she has to act before his lawyer gets it (!); and then she’d kill her lover/co-conspirator, and poison anyone who might become suspicious, and all to try to escape from a suspicious-seeming prosecutor who wants to question her anyway; and then when she tries to flee, she has a fender-bender with some crazy psycho-killer who cuts off her head with a hacksaw (!!!), and it ends up being just one in a series of hacksaw murders the police were investigating all along, and they never thought she was guilty of anything anyway, but were just trying to protect her, since some neighbor of hers was killed by the manic, and they thought she might be next:* Oh my God!!!!!!! But it’s all so silly and unbelievable and hyper-stylized that it’s hard to take it seriously, and everyone is a jerk who is a joy to see killed. See? It really is different from an American slasher movie, even with all the killings. And with such silly and convoluted stuff going on, and with nothing ever being what it initially appears to be, it’s hard to even think it applies to real life on any level or in any way whatsoever. So it’s fun despite all the ultra-violence and “gore” (that is: red paint, ketchup, and mannequin parts!). So they’re kind of like Mad Magazine meets Film Noir, with everything ridiculously exaggerated, spoofed, and hyper-real. And that makes for a fun and exciting rollercoaster ride-type of experience (unless it’s not a good one).

* (BTW: This is not a real Giallo movie plot, but rather my off-the-cuff representation of what a Giallo movie plot is like. But I would gladly license this story to anyone who wants to make it into a movie, so long as they promise to call it: The Bloody Money with the Chocolate Bunny in the Dead Lady’s Tummy. (<This is a Giallo fan in-joke, as after the phenomenal success of Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, every Italian psycho-killer movie had to have an animal reference in its title for a few years, like A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, etc.)

Oh, and here’s Roger Ebert’s actual brief review of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (and I wasn’t far off, it seems {although I was dumb enough to guess what he would say ahead-of-time, when I could have just looked it up, so I’m an idiot}.):