11.01.2005

A small selection of television commercials that confound me

KFC
In the company's most recent offering, a woman is eating what looks like a 2-piece dinner at the breakroom table when one of her male coworkers walks in. They make some small talk, then she tells him that she bought her lunch for only four dollars.

"Four dollars?" the guy replies, incredulous. "That's way less than what I paid for my lunch at a casual dining restaurant."

Now, first of all, I'm not even sure what qualifies as a "casual dining restaurant." TGIFriday's? Sbarro? Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag?

Even if I did know what a "casual dining restaurant" entailed, I can't imagine that's a term I'd toss around in my daily conversation. Nor would any other human. Unless, of course, that human were following a script carefully edited so as not to result in a lawsuit stemming from a commercial's mention of one of its specific competitors. Still, people are being paid good money to write these scripts. Can't they figure out some more believable dialogue?

The Burger King "King"
Am I the only person who finds this guy completely creepy? If I opened my blinds one morning and someone were standing two inches from the glass in that psychotic mask, I'd call the cops (after I pissed myself). And yet the guy in the commercial seems so happy to see him! Maybe he's just excited about the "egg-normous, meat-normous" monstrosity he's offering.

This sandwich marks a key moment in the development of breakfast sandwiches (and in America's continuing slide toward near-universal angina). It's key because the industry has clearly realized there's only so much meat and egg a person can fit on the traditional breakfast breads -- croissants, bagels, English muffins. And so, finally, they've just said fuck it and put the sandwich on a big-ass lunch roll. Genius!

Ads both for and against local ballot initiatives
Right now, Iowa City is mired in two completely bewildering controversies. The first is whether we should allow the city to form a cooperative electric utility to replace MidAmerican Energy. The second is whether we should form a local telecom co-op which, I assume, would replace Qwest.

The truth is, the only reason I know enough about that first issue to write a complete sentence about it is because in my former life, before coming to Iowa, I edited a publication about the energy industry and actually wrote a news article about Iowa City's dillema.

If, like most Iowa Citians, I were making my decision based only on both sides' television commercials, I would know roughly squat. Here's what I know about the telecom controversy:

--According to some group with a vague name like "Citizens for Super-Fair Telephonery," starting a telecom co-op in Iowa City would be "really, really expensive."

--According to another group with a similar name -- let's call them "Citizens for Even-Fairer Telephonery" -- NOT starting a telecom co-op would be "really, really expensive."

Who to believe? Who knows? Neither side presents even one single fact. Not one single argument. Why bother then? At least when people are running for political office, we get facts -- well, usually distorted or made-up "facts," but you've got to at least appreciate the show of effort. Couldn't these guys write "really, really expensive" across the screen while playing "God Bless America?" Could we at least get an American flag, or a bald eagle? Without those sorts of symbols, I don't know who's good and who's evil.

Ads that take place in offices and are about things like servers, telephone service, FedEx, etc.

A friend pointed out the other day this growing genre of TV commercials. I guess I don't have any problem with these companies advertising, but the cumulative effect of all these ads is to remind me how much I hate working in an office, and how much I hope I'll never have to do it again. And how stupid I am when it comes to most technology-related things.

Plus, I always assumed the people responsible for these types of executive-level purchasing decisions were busy, busy people who stayed at the office until well past dinnertime, then maybe went out for martinis and beluga caviar with their industrialist buddies. But that image has now been shattered, since I guess they sit around in their pajamas and watch TV just like the rest of us. Here I thought one of the benefits of not being a wealthy industrialist was that I could catch Veronica Mars each week. But apparently I could do that while pulling down the big bucks.

Ads for Bennigans & Applebey's
I usually don't notice Bennigans ads until a few weeks before St. Patrick's Day, when Bennigans remembers that at some point in time they were a restaurant that tried to pass itself off as sort of Irish. "Come spend your St. Patty's Day with your good Irish buddies down at Bennigans!" these ads implore. Let me tell you right now: if you ever spend a St. Patrick's Day in a Bennigans, you are a fucking wanker. You might as well wear one of those big green foam hats, drop food coloring in your 24 oz. Bud Lite and then punch yourself in the scrotum and/or uterus.

Appleby's has only recently made this list, with all this "we're your neighborhood place" nonsense. I'm irritated enough at how every place in America is turning into a homogenous suburb, I don't need this sort of constant reminder. If your "neighborhood place" is a fucking Appleby's, then, dude, you live in pretty much the worst neighborhood ever.

Okay, I could probably keep going all day, but I'll stop before my blood pressure rises anymore. Fellow Barrelhousers, feel free to add your own least favorite commercials.

5 comments:

Kistulentz said...

The referee commercials for light beer.

Basically, large corporate behemoth brewer (we'll call them Miller) gets a successful idea, and then large corporate behemoth brewer B (we'll call them Anheuser-Busch) steals it.

What's frustrating about this is that neither company seems to realize that the best way to increase sales just might be to make a better product. I'd love to remind them that the two best selling beers in America in the 1970s were Schlitz and Schaefer (the one beer to have when you are having more than one--greatest slogan ever). And the reason they don't crack the top ten is basic market-driven economics. Choice in the marketplace meant consumers demanded a better beer.

A close second on my list of hated advertisers would be McDonald's. Simply, I'm NOT loving it.

dave said...

This is an excellent topic. Here are a few of the ones that are confounding me lately:

Budweiser Select:

This really begs for a full deconstruction, but here's a summary. Basically, this seems to be a commercial for some kind of new Budweiser label. Because the label is the only thing that we really know anything about. The rest of the thing is so purposefully vague as to be kind of brilliant, in an incredibly annoying, nobody ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the american people kind of way. I'm pretty sure, since it's a giganto macrobrew, that I can guess what this actually is -- shitty beer, sold to morons. But what exactly IS it? Lite beer? Somehow, uh, BETTER beer (like when Yuengling started making lager in green bottles and then all of the sudden was available in every single bar in DC). This commercial tells us that there are some beers that taste great and others that are easy to drink, but until Bud Select, there hasn't been one does both. And then they show us the label as if to prove this statement: well, there it is, right there on the label, Budweiser Select.

Coors:

Is it the shows I watch? Are they advertising specifically to the dimwit alcoholic? Who would have guessed that Taradise would have so many beer commercials?

The Coors commercials I hate most vehemently are the ones with that Pete Coors character. Especially the one where he's off on a snowy mountain all done up in his LL Bean get-up, like he's trick or treating as a Republican senator on an adulterous ski weekend or something, and he says totally bullshit jive like "sometimes we hike up here and find the perfect tree...and then we just leave it alone."

As opposed to building a giant factory that would make piss-tasting swill on it and then polluting the land and the rivers and the water table and getting fabulously rich in the process.

Which is what we usually do.

IBM:

I hate those Help Desk commercials. Having worked a little in consulting and a lot on the web, the idea that some MBA bitch in dork glasses behind a desk can help farmers and shepherds be creating a web portal drives me crazy.

I have to admit that I actually like a few, like the one where Peyton Manning goes and cheers on the normal people, and the one where the doofus says "we don't get French Benefits?"

These are also on during Taradise, and dimwit alcoholic that I am, they amuse me.

dave said...

I forgot one! See, I love this topic. I'll probably post comments all day.

Any ad for a food in which the spokesanimal IS THAT FOOD. Like a big cartoon chicken that really wants you to eat more chicken, or a cow that says "we've got the best burgers."

Special points to one of those new chicken stores, like Ranch 1 or whatever, which has the cows actually asking you to eat more chicken. Because that is super-creepy, like some kind of animal genocide political conflict, only they are so powerless they've resorted to begging us, the dimwit alcholic american people, to eat more of their rivals.

And now I have an idea for the next story I'm going to start and not finish.

TMC said...

Glad you mentioned Coors, Dave. But you missed a key point-- I can't fucking stand all the talk about how Coors Light is "the coldest tasting beer in the world." What the fuck is that? The temperature of the beer is the one thing they can't control, so it's an empty promise. If I put my beer in the oven (and who doesn't?) it's not going to be the coldest tasting beer ever. Besides that, I don't even know if "cold" is something you can taste anyway. Really, the best they can say about their product is that it's cold? I can put a sack of dog shit in the freezer for a week and that'll be cold too, but it doesn't mean I'll like it.

Mike said...

From what I can tell, Budweiser Select is what happens when you mix one part Budweiser with one part Bud Lite. I expect it to have the approximate shelf life of Bud Dry.

On a related note: I'd like to see a dance-off between Pete Coors and August Busch IV for the title of Whitest Man in America.