February 06, 2007

Brought to You by a Game of Football

Go Colts! Yay, for the Super Bowl! Woo, football!

So, I totally didn’t watch it. Well, I tuned in for the last five minutes, just to see who won and by how much, to make some sense of the radio blatherings in the morning. I don’t dislike football; I understand how people can get all het up about it—I just hate watching them smash into each other. Every game I have watched with the Sooz has me crouched on the sofa, hands poised like blinders astride my head, mumbling “runrunrunrun GO runrunrun DUCK runruNEEOW!” I can’t watch the game without mentally, nay empathically participating, so every hit has me wincing in pain. Most of the carnage was over in the fourth quarter, and I really didn’t care who won, since the Midwest was playing the Midwest and either team would’ve been fine by me (I did giggle every time anyone referred to “da Bears,” but that’s hardly a concrete assessment of the team’s skillz). And before any NFL fans get their panties in a twist about only watching the ends of games, please allow me to remind you of those who watch the Super Bowl not for the game—not for the stats or spandex, the four hours of rainsoaked linebackers colliding with bone-splintering velocity, not even Prince’s badly-synched Halftime Show of Bodacious Tinnitus / Tonsorial Salute to Ethel Mertz—no. They tune in to four hours of television… for the commercials.

I don’t know. I don’t. My mind has imploded from the irony of a nation that pays money to watch a game that people are paid to play just so they can watch commercials made by people who pay $5 million a minute to try to get people to spend more money. Ow.

Why are people so crazy about new commercials? Because when airtime costs as much as a yacht full of cocaine (with Johhny Walker Blue in every cabinet, Hawaiian Gold in mink sachets and a hold full of nubile virgins, plus pizza money) writers tend to put effort into their ads—which, as we’re all aware of the surfeit of shitty advertising campaigns in this country, is refreshing to the point of being actual entertainment. I didn’t see any of the featured commercials (if I want to, there’s always YouTube), but the whole sick enterprise got me steaming about some current promotions I really, really hate, the ones that should be paying a five million a minute for the privilege of sucking so hard.

I tend to find snack food-oriented ads especially annoying; I realize selling junk foods to an overweight nation pretty much gets itself done, but that is no excuse for the devil-may-care attitudes evinced in the patronizing tripe-cum-ad copy. Apparently, if something is so good people will buy it regardless of how you promote it, you can give the campaign the same level of consideration that you would extend to potato mold with no visible effects; that is, unless the campaign is so mind-bogglingly retarded we choose to boycott our toaster pastries until the next ad cycle, because even some fatties have standards. Kellogg.

Port-a-Tarts: A girl gets an unwelcome, geeky visitor at her front door, but she can’t run away, because she’s in the middle of eating. Eating what? A Pop-Tart. Luckily, there are these new smaller, breakaway “to-go” Pop-Tarts, and she flees with her social standing unblemished. I want the name of the research employee who started at the dry, pasty cracker filled with cloying “fruity” sweetness that is a Pop Tart and decided that its biggest problem was that it’s just not portable… enough. [Especially when we all know that the problem with Pop Tarts is they’re not Toaster Strudels, which do need to be more portable, because yum, and also because eating them in the car is a nightmare.] I also want the name of the concept designer, because I’m calling his mother and telling her that she failed to teach her children proper social behaviors and therefore sucks at life.

Zombies of the Corn: Who thought using a digitally recreated Orville Redenbacher in the new popcorn campaign was a good idea? First, we all know that Orville is dead. The entire world is clued into this. Second, the animation is choppy, which makes it even creepier. Third, NosferOrville is grooving on his iPod while he pops some corn for a family that, for unknown reasons, does not run screaming from the house at the sight of the reanimated corpse of a popcorn mogul. I admittedly have a thing with dead bodies, so using a dead guy to sell food seems really counterintuitive to me, but the iPod? Do we really need to be told that popcorn is still hip? Are we that worried about people buying jumbo tubs of soy nuts with butter-flavored sauce to complement their viewing of Pirates of the Carribean? I think popcorn is safe enough to leave its founder in the ground; every time this commercial comes on I shudder, scramble for the clicker, and picture Jeremy Bentham in his cupboard enjoying a warm, dead chuckle at my expense.

Iron McChef: This one has gotten some press of late, and rightly so; I wasn’t aware that Iron Chef was even sponsored by McDonald’s until the brouhaha with the “totally unintentional” subliminal ad. Now, I hate all subliminal advertising; if you wanna bypass free will to get people to consume your product, there is a place for you, and that place is Soviet Russia. But my problem is… McDonald’s? It’s the fucking Food Network; the network that celebrates the enjoyment, preparation and consumption of good food. There wasn’t a restaurant of substance willing to foot the bill? I find that more insulting than the violation of my subconscious, like, if I’m getting out of bed at 2:00 am to satisfy an inexplicable craving, it better be for some fucking foie gras.

Now, I’m not saying that all commercials are worthless bids for your cash and attention; all of the crap ads just made me appreciate the Chef Boyardee Ravioli Tin Man being chased by a horde brandishing can openers just that much more. [This one also scored highly with me because they really put some thought into casting the Tin Man, and damned if I didn’t think it was Jack Haley himself—maybe they got a two-fer at the cemetery?] The convenience store hunter lying in wait for beef jerky while camouflaged as a freezer case also made me giggle. I question the term ‘snapalope’—but only because I came up with ‘jerkalope’, which I think would have been an even better campaign: a Blair Witch trek into the woods, hunting the fabled jerkalope. The terror. The snap of a twig. The jerkalope is REAL! And it bounces after you with big, yellow, plastic-wrapper teeth—and vengeance! I think it's just funnier.

But I wouldn’t sit through four hours of contact sports for any of them.

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