Commercials That Confuse, Anger or Frighten Me

Dave already hit on one series of ads that confuses me, with his funny and insightful commentary on the new Mac spots (PCs can't play video or music, apparently. Who knew?). Here are some other recent advertisements of note:

1. "Drinks like a soda, kicks like an energy drink." I realize that not all of you in Barrelhouse World live in close proximity to a Big Ten college with an exclusive Coca Cola beverage contract, so perhaps you haven't been inundated with this ad for Vault. Apparently I don't know very much about either sodas or energy drinks, since I always thought the only difference between them was one of degree. Drinking a Mountain Dew, for example, allows you to compete in a variety of exxxxtreme sports without tiring, whereas drinking a Red Bull allows you to dance to thumping techno music for approximately thirteen hours while wearing designer jeans and a striped button-down shirt opened to expose your perfectly waxed chest.

Apparently, though, to the truly advanced palate, a soda and an energy drink are completely different animals. No one who is truly refined could possibly enjoy the way an energy drink "drinks," while only grandmas and very small children are impressed by the "kick" of your average soda. Vault, then, is the perfect solution: a soda with -- get this! -- loads and loads of caffeine. Brilliant!

The tag line for this ad is similar to saying "Drinks like a 1982 Chateau Lafitte, kicks like a gallon jug of Thunderbird." (And when they invent that product, please, someone let me know.)

2. KFC's new bowl dishes. When I was in college, I had a roommate who we'll call, for the sake of anonymity, Ben. Ben was famously lazy. One time, when we lost our television remote, Ben used an old broom handle to change the channel so that he wouldn't have to get up from the couch. Ben's laziness was matched only by his hungriness. He would eat almost anything, at any time of day. Ben tried the Atkins diet once, but instead of eliminating bread, he just ate more meat. Surprisingly, the "diet" didn't work so well.

One night, my roommates and I came home from a party to find Ben passed out on the couch, a few beer cans and a plate of half-eaten food on the coffee table. This was nothing out of the ordinary, of course. Except for what Ben had eaten: spaghetti noodles, a few slices of bologna, a couple slices of American cheese, all doused with plenty of ketchup.

Now, Ben could perhaps be forgiven for his weird food concoction. He was drunk, after all, and perpetually hungry, and he was just making do with what he could find in the kitchen. But what's KFC's excuse for an entree featuring mashed potatoes, fried chicken fingers, corn, cheddar cheese, and gravy? This dish sounds like something a second grader would be forced to eat after mixing up all his cafeteria food to gross out his friends. Cheese and gravy? Even Ben could tell you that shit doesn't go together.

If you find yourself eating one of these new KFC bowls, just go ahead and throw on a pair of sweatpants, because you've officially given up on life.

3. Sprite's "Sublyminol" ads. These ads go in the "frighten" category. Wasn't torture once considered a bad thing? The plot of the ads, if you haven't seen them, is essentially this: A man who for some reason has a tongue coming out of his eye socket (I think) is strapped down to an examining table and poked and prodded by "scientists" who force him to think Sprite is delicious. Also, for some reason, there are sumo wrestlers. Periodically, the word "Obey" flashes across the screen. The theme seems to be: we're poking fun -- scary, scary fun -- at subliminal advertising, while also engaging in subliminal advertising. Genius!

Of course it should come as no surprise that Sprite is on the cutting edge of advertising. This is the same company that made itself the official beverage of basketball and hip hop by hosting "Sprite Zone" parties that got air time on MTV as if they were real concerts and not just marketing orgies full of paid audience participants.

4. Dow Chemicals "The Human Element." Apparently Dow has invented a new element, or cloned a human, or something. I have no idea what's going on in this commercial, actually, except that the narrator sounds kinda like Jack Handy from SNL "Deep Thoughts" fame. And his "insights" are just as insightful. The message of the commercial seems to be that Earth would be different if humans weren't around. Also, you should buy Dow stock. I mean, look, if they're cloning a new master race, you'd better get on board now, or risk getting crushed.


dave said...

I'd like to add the very disturbing McDonald's commercials where the guy keeps on eating the chicken sandwich (which, I think we're supposed to believe is somehow new and different and not just the McChicken that they've been selling for like twenty years under various names) and his friend says "dude, if you don't stop eating those McDonald's Premium Chicken Sandwiches, you're gonna become a chicken."

And then the guy wakes up and he's got these, to quote Napoleon Dynamite, large talons where his feet would be.

Good god does that commercial ever make me want to never, ever eat that chicken sandwich.

Eat our new sandwich and you'll turn into some kind of half-human X-file exile, pecking away at the walls of your house, scratching the hardwood floods with your large, grotesque, chicken talons, batting your own fluffy feathers out of your human eyes, and all the while hungering for the McDonald's Premium Chicken Sandwich that, if you could drive your chicken ass through the drive through and actually score one, would now signal an act of cannibalism.

I'm lovin it.

aaron said...

I get confused by the low calorie powerade or whatever where it touts being less calories than gatorade. 10 < 50 or whatever. It's an energy drink, for god's sake! Energy and heat and calories all go together.

However, I disagree with Mike on the KFC commercial; We Americans seem to pride ourselves on the self-sufficiency of our meal elements--exemplified by TV Dinners, with their segmented plates delineating placement of meat/vegetable/side dish...I think we need to make more effort combining things in bowls, like India and China and Italy.

That dish by KFC sounds really good, but I could go without the corn.