Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Commercial Break: Kids Text the Darndest Things

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 27, 2007

Cheesy cell phone commercials, that’s what’s SNF

I was at a bar trivia dealie the other night, and when they announced the team names and scores, I had a good chuckle at the fact that one of the teams was named “IDK, my BFF Jill?” The team I was playing with, a group of women in their 30s (my regular team wasn’t there, and since I had to be at the bar anyway, I decided to freelance), looked at me very confusedly. I tried to explain why I was laughing, but I think it just confused them further (“Oh.”) Talk about a generation gap.

Anyway, if you’ve been watching and of the same TV channels I do at all during the last few months, you’ve no doubt seen the Cingular commercial in question, in which an angry (and similarly confused) mother confronts her daughter about her high cell phone bill. The twist, of course, is that the daughter talks–as kids are wont to do these days–in a dialect based almost entirely around text message-based acronyming (her main response being “OMG, INBD,” which the subtitles helpfully spell out for the 30+ crowd as “Oh My God, It’s No Big Deal”). The mother is miffed at her daughter’s flippancy, but is ultimately powerless against distinctly 21st century powers of vocabulary.

It’s all part of a memorable, but slightly despicable (and extremely obvious) trend in cell-phone advertising, one where cell phone companies make very self-conscious attempts to assimilate their products and gimmicks into youth culture. Previously the best example of this was T-Mobile’s “Who’s in Your Five?” commercials, the ones that created annoying would-be maxims like “You don’t give another man’s girlfriend a foot massage, and you definitely don’t put her in your FIVE!!” and generally made it seem like worrying about who to put in your five (and who was putting you in their five, or your significant other, etc.) was just something that all young people did. It was like these commercials were specifically created to be talked about ten years from now on I Love the 00s–a pathetic attempt to break into pop culture that (I pray, anyway) failed miserably.

This commercial’s a little bit better, because it is actually memorable in its own right, and has made a genuine impression on pop culture–YouTube is crawling with self-made videos parodies of the commercial, almost all titled “IDK, My BFF Jill?” (including this bizarro Pirates of the Carribean parody, set to Linkin Park’s ‘What I’ve Done”). It’s hard to say why this one’s so much better exactly, but I think it’s just a little better acted than the Five commercials. The little head turn and glare combination thing the daughter does when saying the now-classic line is crushingly spot on for teenage snottiness, and the way the mother can unflinchingly comrpehend and respond to her daughter’s newfangled textspeak is sort of clever. It’s not to say that the commercial isn’t annoying–it’s very annoying, of course–but at least it doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard.


One Response to “Commercial Break: Kids Text the Darndest Things”

  1. Joe said

    Everytime I see this, I think to myself that in real life, the daughter would really be saying “OMG STFU mom!” as she storms off.

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