Advertising Industry Follies
Anyone who reads this sparsely updated poor excuse for a blog knows that there aren't many things that drive me crazier than the advertising industry - those champions of appealing to the lowest common denominator of the human psyche in the name of the almighty sale. Whether it's the slovenly, unshaven pigs and the hot women who inexplicably want their pudgy little dicks in Bud Light ads, the excrutiatingly annoying fucks who schill for the wireless telephone industry, or the "sure, I'll just drop 50 g's for a car" quasi-reality of the luxury car world, the geniuses behind these messages make me thank God each and every day that I invest $12.95 a month for Tivo.
I'm not bragging here, but I consider myself to be a relatively intelligent person. I can comprehend science, literature, history, math and geography with the aptitude of an 11th grade honor student (or so I believe). I can apply logic and reason to bridge the gap between the academic and real worlds. I believe that if I bothered to try, I'd probably be halfway decent at Soduku puzzles. To quote Charles De Mar from Better Off Dead: I'm no dummy. It is for this precise reason that I find advertising, particularly that of the television variety, to be so offensive. P.T. Barnum was truly on to something - there's a sucker born every minute, and in today's America, this theory is alive and well.
Now I know what you're thinking: "J, I'm one of The Nine and I take exception to ABC ripping off the moniker you assigned to your loyal, dedicated readers who have since left this site for dead, and slapping it on another feeble attempt by network television to capitalize on the 'let's fuck with viewer's minds over the course of several weeks until it addicts them to our show' success of Lost." Or, you might be saying: "J, if you don't like these commercials, and you have Tivo, why do you waste time watching them??" Well, given it's been over four months since I attempted to churn anything out for you, I need something to boil my blood and get those creative juices flowing. What better way than deciphering a message that's intended for someone whose IQ is around 60 points lower than my own? On to my thoughs on the recent (note: may not be recent) shit that clogs the sewers of our network television septic system...
You Can't Spell Idealistic Rebellious Acidhead without IRA
The Perpetrator: Investment houses
The Logic: The potheads, acidheads, militants, draft-dodgers and freaks of the hippie generation, those idealistic souls who questioned our involvement in Vietnam, who wouldn't stand for the lies perpetrated by the older generation, who believed in love, peace, social upheavel, et al, are approaching retirement age - what a great opportunity to sell some Roth IRAs!!
The Method: Like a flashback brought on by Woodstock's infamous brown acid, the various investment houses (who make money hand over fist off of our meager retirement savings) assault us with images of dancing free love advocates prancing barefoot in a field, wearing flowers in their hair, with popular (and since grossly overplayed) music piping in the background, and wow man, everyone's caught up in the spirit of love. The twist is that these folks are now sextegenarians and the drugs they use are less of the mind-expansion variety and more of the "it hurts when I open my other prescription bottles" type. Time is short, John Q. Hippie, and our 3.6% returns are tough to beat!
The Madness: While I'll admit that I enjoyed the commercial where the colorful cartoon flowers continuously bloom, touting the benefits of the company's no-fee loads in all of their psychedelic glory as Iron Butterfly's In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida blares in the background, it insults me that these companies think that so many of the people who lived through this era still carry the "Spirit of the 60s" with them today. Either they became extremely cynical thanks to the horrors of Vietnam, Kent State and Watergate, or they are sitting in a padded room because that 127th acid trip didn't quite agree with them. And where are the commercials targeting the brave souls who actually trudged through the jungles of Southeast Asia, fighting a mismanaged war as they did anything they could to stay alive? Oh yeah - they spent all of their paltry military retirement benefits to support the heroin addiction they picked up in 'Nam, so they don't fit the demo. Please spare me this shit and get busy preparing your disco-themed retirement investment commercials that will air in 2015.
The Dark Side of Adulthood
The Perpetrator: Miller Genuine Draft
The Logic: "Oh shit. All of the high school kids who used to ask some sketchy older dude to buy them our beer are on the verge of becoming thirty-something schlubs - what do we do???" Well, you simply change the way you market your product!
The Method: As a sad song lamenting a lost love drones on in the background, neo-hipster douchebags stare longingly at the implements of their binge drinking escapades as their killjoy girlfriends give them a "come on, I've almost completely emasculated you, we may as well go the whole way with it" look. Away go the foam-domes, talking beer openers (I still have one) and plastic keg cups, gone like the youth they can never recapture. Once they've discarded the things that actually made them fun, they receive comfort from their new, much less fun friends and imbibe in a bottle of MGD, the grown up beer.
The Madness: It appears that the good folks up in Milwaukee would have us believe that choking down that swill they call beer is the key to enjoying a more grown up brand of "partying", which apparently involves standing around some dickhead's tastefully furnished apartment with three other couples while wearing a sportcoat instead of doing keg stands and vomiting on the shoes of some girl you're trying to impress. Sure, each is its own version of hell, but only one leaves you with something tangible to bullshit over your next set of drinks with. Hell, if the point is to upgrade your beer choice, how about Pilsener Urquell, Duvel, or even freaking Amstel Light? Jesus Christ, if this is what maturity is all about I'm all for arrested development.
OK, We Get the Idea - We're American
The Perpetrators: GM (specifically Chevrolet) and John "Cougar" Mellencamp
The Logic: During that most Amreican of pasttimes, the World Series, We the People of the United States of America, in all of our Americanism, in these trying, turbulent times for America, desire images of American Americana and Americanified American American-do attitude, because hey, it's not "American't"!
The Method: Thankfully Chevy has answered our prayers by using images of this great nation of ours along with John Mellencamp to encourage us to exhibit our Patriotism by purchasing a Chevy Silverado. From the rock 'n' roll of the '50's to those ever-turbulent '60's to recent representations of our trials and tribulations, Chevy feels that by playing the National Pride card, their lagging truck sales will surge before the '07's come out. USA! USA! USA!
The Madness: Good God, what image of our recent past wasn't hijacked for this ad campaign? The funny part of the whole message is that there seems to be a certain demographic that Chevy targets here - white, working and farming class Christrian folk from middle-America who hold traditional American values near and dear to their hearts. Yet a few of the indelible American images Chevy uses seem to fly in the face of that group:
- Rock and Roll in the 50's: Unfamiliar, loud and often played by negroes, I doubt it sat well with these folks.
- Muhammed Ali: Yeah, I'm sure middle America in 1965 just loved a large, brash, outspoken black man who converted to Islam and refused to be drafted.
- Young People Marching for Peace in the 60's: Likely transcript of a person from the target demographic watching the riots in Chicago in '68 on their television: "YES! GO! SMASH THAT GODDAMNED HIPPIE'S HEAD IN!"
In addition, I find it quite offensive that three of the most unpleasant developments of the last few decades - Vietnam; The World Trade Center; Hurricane Katrina - are in a sense hijacked to inspire us to run out and purchase a fucking pickup truck. I guess they couldn't get rights to those videos of civil rights marchers being hosed down in Birmingham or of the Iranian students storming the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in '79 - what a shame.
Last but certainly not least in the realms of my dislike, John Mellencamp, the Champion of America's breadbasket. Spewing from his tobacco-tar-drenched lungs are ballads about scarecrows, shoddy homes, the escapades of young country folk outside the Tastee-Freez, and R-O-C-K in the U-S-A, he serves as the constant reminder that American music can be bland and unfeeling.
Oh, and this is our country.
Where All the Fat Women At?
The Perpetrators: The Fast Food Industry
The Logic: "If we present the patrons of our restaurants as young, hip, thin, good-looking people, we will in turn be patronized in droves by a) young, hip, thin, good-looking people, and b) the obese people who already patronize us extensively who now think it's more acceptable now that we've shown young, hip, thin, good-looking people doing the same.
"Ah, hell, the fatties will eat our shit regardless, but let's still go for those good-looking ones."
The Method: It's simple, really - pick a fast-food commercial, any fast food commercial. Next, closely observe the type of individual put in front of us as spokespeople for the product. From the leggy brunette who wantonly seduces the office cretin in the Burger King ads, to the Pam Beasly-esque girl next door who becomes extremely creeped out when her co-worker (?) professes his love for her after she invents a clever word (a Sniglet, if you will) to extol the benefits of a crunchy, chewy, cheesy Taco Bell product, we are assaulted of images of normal, healthy, clear-complexioned people who are frequent fast food patrons - and simply do not exist! Therein lies one of the sinister aspects of these ads - creating the fantasy world.
The Madness: After observing these commercials, pick a fast-food restaurant, any fast-food restaurant, get a bottomless Coke and sit your ass down. Then, watch the traffic flow and make note of their general physical appearance. Do you see any joweled, flabby, smelly, wheezin, pear-shaped men? Any waddling, pale, splotchy-skinned, saggy-bottomed, sweatpants-wearing women? Well, you've just uncovered the other half of the sinister truth - create the fantasy, but don't deliver.
Join me next time when I write about the Super Bowl Commercials, because God knows I'll be too lazy to do anything before then.
Until next time...