Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Advertising Round-up (Cinco de Mayo 2010 installment)

I love poking fingers at advertising. It's a nice, reliable target, and I figure any debate that may emerge will be nicely light-hearted and not blow up in a hideous ball of flame. So here I go.......

.....Starting with the Progressive Insurance saleslady. She's annoying. Please, someone make her go away. Fakely (is that a word?) perky salespeople are annoying and, as far as I know, virtually nonexistent in real life. Why would anybody who sells insurance (the very idea of which makes at least one portion of my brain blow up in a hideous ball of flame, but that's my problem) be that perky?

Another highly annoying trend in ads is that of things seeming as though they really ought to be funny.......you guessed it.....but aren't. That brings me to the Dairy Queen "lips" icon. I think I've mentioned that character on here before, but I never really explained why. Lips, if you're out there......you're not funny. Either stop trying or go away. Arby's Oven Mitt and the lady from T-Mobile both seem to have disappeared from our televisions, and I haven't missed either of them. They had the same problem.

One more major irritant to me is any use of the phrase "ooh-la-la" in an advertisement. As soon as I hear that, I make it a point to not buy that product.

And the big one that really seems to be in full swing these days: using words naturally exclusive to one part of speech (noun, verb, etc.) as a different one. I don't know if I ever actually noticed it that much before recently, when I first saw billboards for Droid (whatever exactly Droid is) over Chicago that read "A bare-knuckled bucket of does." When I first saw that, I was confused. I interpreted it for a moment as pronounced "a bare-knuckled bucket of d'ohs." I thought "Uhh...okay. What am I going to do with a bunch of female deer? Lucy doesn't get along with other quadrupeds that well. She hissed at her own brother for years." Then I got closer to the thing and saw at the bottom, in smaller print, "...In a world of doesn't." Suddenly, it all became clear: certain marketing people must be destroyed. I've noticed the phenomenon many times since then. I think Chex Mix is now calling themselves "a bag of interesting." In fact, one of the most recent ads out there features the promoter actually catching itself using "bacon" as a verb. Ironically, it was the Dairy Queen "lips" icon........

....Anyway, I happened to recall an old Calvin & Hobbes strip while I was thinking about that. I go along with Hobbes. Leave it to the cat to be the voice of reason.

All right. Um.....another one I just remembered: the occasional tag line describing something as "being the new (other thing)." That may have been clever once, but now it's just cliché. And confusing at that.

How should one advertise, you ask? Simple. Follow the example of Empire Today carpeting. Describe what you're selling in an easy voice....not shouting. Car dealers, I'm lookin' at you. Then, at the end, have a nice, simple, catchy jingle. Empire's been using the same jingle, recording and all, for I don't know how long. It's gotta be at least from the Sixties. I can tell you this: I don't know if I'll ever actually use Empire's services, but, by golly, I know their phone number by heart, thanks to their jingle.

On radio, meanwhile.........yeah, I still sometimes turn the radio on when my mp3 player's battery runs out or the Cubs game is on.......I understand they once would run programming alternating between one song and one commercial, rather than a handful of songs followed by seemingly interminable commercials. I wouldn't mind bringing that back. Or radio ads could be in the form of nicely crafted songs. I got a few vintage Coke ads by popular bands from back in the day, such as the Who, the Box Tops, the Blues Magoos, and so on. They're probably on YouTube somewhere. But a nicely crafted original song is good. The Kars for Kids song, on the other hand, is one of the most revolting sounds I've ever heard. I change the station as soon as that keyboard plays.

And that can be my ending note for this rambling: kids' singing is not pleasant. Keep that stuff on your own digital cameras, Facebook accounts or whatever. I don't care if he's dead; if Michael and the Jackson Five pop up on my radio, I change the station. If the kid writes their own songs, bleeding angst and oozing creativity, preferably with a psychedelic touch, then maybe I'll consider them. And, while I'm at it, that Just For Men ad with the little girls giving that stuff to their father is just creepy.

Right. Well, I'm off to dinner. I want my baby back baby back baby back baby back ribs. And maybe a Tommy James record.

Actually, no I'm not. I just remembered one more annoying trend in advertising: using re-recorded versions of classic songs in the ad, especially if the lyrics are altered to suit the product. I don't know if there's a connection between the Chili's jingle and "Draggin' the Line", but I haven't seen the Applebee's ads with the bastardized oldies for a while now, and I'm perfectly okay with that. (Although it was pretty laughable when Kentucky Fried Chicken was using "Sweet Home Alabama" for their ads.)

Okay, now I'm done.

(All company names are trademarked in the names of themselves. Blah blah blah.)


Edit, a few days later: I was just reminded of a groovy commercial character earlier when I saw one of the ads: the Miller High Life delivery (or, more frequently, revocation) guy. Go get them rich business @$$#*£&$!

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