Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reprise: Dumb Ads

My old bugbear is back. I just can't shake these things. While they may stick in my mind, they're completely ineffective as marketing tools. But perhaps I'm just an unusually discriminating, tough market.

First, I should again freely admit that I watch too much TV. But I do like it, especially since the advent of DVRs.

Second, there's a new smackdown child smarting off to parents in an ad. This is where our kids get a lot of ideas (ideas that don't fly in our house any more than pigs with wings). SMACK! DOWN! Last time it was the child who would consume nothing but liquid nutritional supplement. This time the winner is the fish-stick girl. She's no older than three, but she harangues her mother about feeding her "minced fish." She rolls her eyes and snottily corrects her mother (help me?) by saying something like, "Do you seriously think I'm gonna eat minced fish?" Or, "Did you ever try eating minced fish?" Mom looks crestfallen and afraid, and immediately produces something else. Instantly. The child rules her world. Are you effing kidding me? Then the child says something like, "That's more like it. Crunchy and tasty." As usual, I won't name the brand because I don't want to give it any credit in my column inches. But, mind, this is a three-year-old child and the items on her plate are no bigger than her little finger and almost entirely breading. To parody another, ancient ad, "Where's the fish?" Reminds me of the joke, "Mommy, mommy, I don't like little brother!" And Mommy says, "Shut up, Susie, and eat what's on your plate!"

Third, the "royal" fast-food joint has gone way too far with the Halloween mask character. They are paying an actor under there, but they have to add a molded plastic face? And they have a huge adult in costume riding around on a pocket bike? What's the intended audience? I am waiting for this chain to go bankrupt from bad advertising. The day can't be far away.

Fourth, another repeat offender: Charmin (R). Please, Mr. Whipple, come back to life! I'm not sure if I reported this particular "episode" earlier, but the bears are back from their nasty, water-fouling, urgent potty romp on the beach, and this time the baby bear requires help from parent bear with the toilet paper again. This time it's not about using too much paper. Oh, no. It's about the lint on the child's rear end. I think the parent chases the child to vacuum the lint (can't exactly remember), butt what I noticed was that lint was ABOVE the child's tail, not below it. That is not a vacuuming problem. And just between us, I don't carry a DustBuster or corded vacuum when I'm in the woods.

On the same subject, there's another--the bear family go driving into the woods. Is that environmentally sound? They stop the car, pile out and, you know, do what bears do in the woods. I just can't stand this campaign.

Fifth, and another SMACK! DOWN! is the screaming guy who does laundry detergent ads. Some random weird guy thinking it's okay for him to enter my family room and yell. Every time he comes on, everyone in the whole house starts screaming. "Mom! Why is this guy screaming?" And I reply, "Kids, I DON'T KNOW WHY THIS GUY IS SCREAMING!" Even so, I will avoid any such product like the plague. I will never, ever try it.

However, on the other side of the coin, there are some current ads I really like.

I love the PBS ad in which a frustrated composer is sitting at his piano, trying to write something, and looks out the window to see birds on wires that form the treble clef. He writes the notes as the birds are configured, and comes up with the PBS theme.

I like the series with the PC guy and the Apple guy.

An ad for a carpet-cleaning company shows a little boy upbraiding his Bassett hound for making a mess on the floor, lecturing him that he's not going to take the blame again.

I think the Windex birds are hilarious, leading the homeowner to smack himself into glass doors. Of course, this would not be funny in the least if it were real, but it's pretty amusing when you think of it as birds conspiring vengeance on humans for having clean windows. I must say that with people, at our house, such a thing would never happen. The windows are WAYYYY too dirty for anyone not to notice a barrier. We don't have any sliding doors, either; and because the house is on a hill, the big windows are almost three stories up--so people are pretty careful near them. Our house is in the woods, and despite the dirty windows, birds regularly kill themselves on windows too often, and it's very disturbing.

Then there's the Cheerios ad with Steve and his wife. This is one of the most honest, real home-life conversations I've ever seen in an ad. Steve stupidly says, "Are you trying to lose weight?" or "Are you watching your weight?" Wife is deeply offended. She stops eating, and says, "No. Why?" He says, "Nothing. It's just that the box says it has xxx calories." She says something like, "Do you think I need to lose weight?" He replies, "No, it's just the box." Finally she asks, "What else does the box say?" He says, dutifully, "The box says, 'Shut up, Steve.'" The wife beams at him.

Finally, I really enjoy the nerdy Jimmy Dean ads with the sun making breakfast, and the sun helping the moon be full (that's the cutest one), and the sun feeding all the planets so that they all become awesome. They're dopey and cute at the same time. Alas, I do not eat sausage, but the breakfasts look good--like your entire day's calories good!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wrong Impressions

Every once in a while, a situtation arises that makes you mistakenly read a book by its cover. I've had this happen with neighbors and clients. You start off on a seemingly karmic wrong foot, and every subsequent encounter between you only intensifies the wrong impression you have of each other. One time we had neighbors who had different ideas about how socially close people should be with their neighbors. We had a very small party exclusively for people DH had hired into a team at work. They were talking company confidential stuff meant for no ears but each other's. The next day, the neighbor lady called me up, crying, and asking why I hated her and hadn't invited them to the party. Whuuuutttt??? On many occasions our children played together, and their children always made my elder son the bad guy or "the devil" because he wasn't a churchgoer. The final straw was when their idiot huge Golden Retriever pup got off their property and was roaming my backyard. I went out to take him home. He thought it was a rollicking game and dodged me for half an hour. By the time I finally corralled him, he had bitten my butt and torn my pants. I went to their door with my hand on his collar, and I looked pretty dishevelled. The neighbor man looked at me horrified, as if I had STOLEN the dog outright from their yard. It never occurred to him that someone in her household had turned off the invisible fence. He regaled me. What the heck was I, brazen hussy, doing with his champion bloodline (but idiot) dog? I politely suggested that the fence was not turned on. And did this neighbor ever thank me? Or replace my pants?

Well, that was a long preamble.

Anyway, the other day I was going to pick up my older kid at the high school. To get there I had to stop at a particular scary intersection that is renowned for causing accidents just because of its design. I was first in line at the very long light to cross the intersection, and noticed an unkempt elderly man on the corner. My wipers swept away a light drizzle. The man had wild, long white hair, a straggly white beard, and was wearing shorts that were too short, a regular tee shirt, and beat up athletic shoes with no socks. He'd topped the ensemble with a deeply wrinkled black trench coat that only a flasher would love--it looked as if it had been balled up under a bed for six months. Furthermore, he looked quite vague and was gazing around the intersection as if in confusion. He did not seem like a homeless person or bag person--just untidy and somewhat disoriented.

I thought, "Oh, great. This guy is going to start walking across the street in front of my car just the second my light turns green! I just know it!" As I said, the light is very long, so I had plenty of time to ponder and get all worked up about hitting him as he crossed. He kept casting his eyes about. And, finally, he did an extraordinary thing. My light was still red, but apparently he had been calculating the timing of every light in the intersection. When he had figured out that no one had a green, he strolled slowly and confidently across that very wide intersection on the diagonal to get to the other corner. He made it in perfect time before my light turned green. Will wonders never cease.

So I had gotten all worked up about a semi-deranged somewhat bag person who I was certain would walk in front of my moving vehicle, only to find out he knew exactly what he was doing. The very next day when I went to pick up elder kid at school again, I saw him again. Only this time he had cut his hair and beard, wore socks, and had put away the trench coat. He crossed straight rather than on the diagonal. And the only outstanding feature of his appearance was a huge walking stick that was definitely not the kind that's carved and polished, but some tree limb considerably taller than he was that he had found in a yard along his walking route.