Sunday, February 06, 2011

Commercials I Just Don't Get, Redux

Latest Newspaper Column: The Pilot

I've mentioned before how I just don't seem to be on the same wavelength as the people who make TV commercials. Maybe I'm just not hip enough, but there are some that leave me scratching my head and trying to figure out, "How or why is this -supposed to make me want this product?"

Take, for instance, the commercial for the cell phone company where the blank-faced woman stuffs her child into a pet carrier to get the child on a plane cheap, explaining to the audience with a creepy lack of emotion that she needs to save money to pay her cell phone charges.

She's then accosted by a pair of equally creepy baggage handlers who look and speak like aliens who are trying to pass as human and failing badly at it. They tell the woman she can get cheap phone service from their company, before further confirming their alienness by failing to realize that the person speaking from inside the tiny cage is a human child and not a talking dog.

The same company used to run an ad where two talking pigs were enjoying a large plate of ham in a restaurant, explaining that what they're doing isn't as wrong as -paying high cell phone bills. Apparently, there's an ad agency out there that thinks child abuse, cannibalism and creepy humanoids are a hilarious way to peddle cell phone service.

I do not want to meet these people. Ever.

On the subject of phones, I'm glad that Apple's iPhone is soon going to start working with Verizon's phone network. But that ad with all the ticking clocks and people watching them, tapping their fingers, anxiously awaiting the exact second when they can have a choice of which company drops their calls, does not make me want to get either an iPhone or Verizon's service. It makes me want to tell these people they really need to get a life.

Then there's the commercial for McDonald's coffee in which the young hipster-looking dude with the scruffy beard rudely and repeatedly tells everyone, including a passing dog, "Don't even talk to me before I've had my coffee."

Look, I like my cup of coffee in the morning. I like it more than just about anyone I know. And I have to say, Mickey D's makes a surprisingly good cup of Java. But I've got to tell you, this commercial does -nothing except make me want to smack that guy in his pretentious hipster face. Think you're too good to talk to people in the morning, you little douchebag? Well, have a little talk with the back of my hand.

Also, I'd like to say a word or two about those Hyundai commercials where everyone who's not driving a Hyundai is a sheep. Hey, Hyundai? Here's a news flash. You don't make me want to buy your car by being smug and condescending. Just the opposite, in fact.

Oh, and here's a message to the folks at Charmin: those commercials for toilet tissue with the bears in the woods? We got the joke a long time ago, guys. Bears. Bodily functions. Woods. Really, we get it. It's just tiresome now, when it's not gross. Let it go.

While we're at it, let's face facts: Chester the Cheetos Cheetah has jumped the shark. He was kind of amusing when he was inciting put-upon young women to exact revenge. But when he starts enticing grown men into forts made out of mattresses, it's more than a little disturbing.

And what's the deal with the commercial where Chester and a female music store employee are tormenting another employee - who is, it should be noted, actually eating Cheetos - by playing "Chopsticks" over and over? What message does this send? "Eat our product and we'll still be a jerk to you"? It's almost enough to make me want to boycott Cheetos. Almost.

Tonight is, of course, the Super Bowl, which, among many other things, is the time when advertisers roll out a whole bunch of new commercials.

I probably won't get most of them, either.


AnswerGirl said...

Could not agree more, especially about the latest Chester Cheetos commercials - the underlying message seems to be, "Eat Cheetos! Be a jerk!"

And the Butterfingers Snackers commercial does not make me want to be a spoiled, plump young woman with a fake Southern accent who gets her kicks by zapping her fake friends. Still, maybe that's just me.

But the commercial that makes me change the channel, no matter what else is on, is the one for Luvs diapers, where babies rate each other on the size and power of their excretory functions. Yes, I appreciate the importance of non-leaking diapers; I've never seen anything on TV that grossed me out more. Thanks, Luvs.

JD Rhoades said...

I think I'd blotted that Luvs commercial out of my mind.

Mary said...

I have not seen most of those commercials -- especially blessed? or just good at tuning out?
I laughed at one with the little girl at the airport "I have a coloring book," but then remembered the TLC discussion about the parents in first class leaving their children in coach. BTW, last time I flew, I noticed that airlines have added a rule requiring parents to be in the same area with minor children . . . or pay the "unaccompanied minor" fee.
. . . and now I just remembered flying with a very young niece, who pushed her coloring book in front of me to show me her picture, upsetting my coffee all over my white sundress. Good thing I keep one outfit in the carryon. It was almost worth it to see the utter horror on the face of the business woman seated behind me . . .

Rae said...

So in agreement with you on the Charmin (and all other t.p. commercials, for that matter). When did the ad agencies decide it was OK to get so graphic about it all? Eeeuwwwwww.

Anonymous said...

The Chester ad with Chopsticks is pretty annoying. It might have worked for me if Chet and the girl broke out into some high-powered blues or boogie-woogie, but all it does is make glad I reached for the store-brand bag of pretzels instead.

The twenty-something guy pitching State Farm makes me glad I tolerate Flo and go with Progressive.


Jeanne in MN said...

I hate the phone commercial with 5 people in the car. The geeky guy's phone buzzes and he reads something with a horrid creepy laugh. Then the other phones all start to buzz. I don't want to use anything that gives me a horrid creepy laugh!

Jeff Blanks said...

I think the Boost Mobile commercial must've been made by people who listened to "new wave" records (and watched the videos, of course) in the '80s. It has that same kind of disembodied tone. Maybe it's also supposed to illustrate the existential emptiness of life without Boost Mobile or something. It's a very GenX thing: not "Our product rocks!", but "Our product is the only one that doesn't suck."

Joey Polanski said...

I think I have AdBlock built into my brain.

Commercials just don't register with me. It seems they're "white noise" by default or something.

There's a "They want my money / They'll tell me ANYTHING" decoder in me that renders me IMMUNE to advertising, I guess.

I like commercials that are ENTERTAINING or AMUSING, but, while I would LIKE TO reward ANYONE who sees the value in creativity and comedy, I'm NOT automatically given over to givin' 'em my MONEY.