Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Commercial Break: Twothingsism

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on April 4, 2009

If the GEICO dynasty has taught us one thing about the nature of TV commercials, it’s that any concept for an ad campaign–really, just about anything–will eventually become hilarious if you just take the concept way too far. My brother used to believe that if he heard any pop song often enough, he’d invariably come around to liking it, no matter how dreadful, and sometimes I think the same thing is true with ad campaigns. If a commercial conceit seems strange and alienating upon first arrival, give it a hundred viewings in its half-dozen different permutations, and soon enough you will actually pause in the middle of a commercial break to crack up watching it the 101st time. It’s scary, it’s a little bit pathetic, but it’s pretty undeniable.

Case in point: The Old Spice “Two Things in One” campaign. The first one was simple enough–a showering centaur talks about how he appreciates Old Spice making a product that’s two things in one (Body Wash + Moisturizer), because he’s also two things in one (“A man…and a pretty smart shopper.”) I always suspected that I sort of liked the commercial–it had a very strange vibe to it, vaguely satricial and mildly surreal (plus I always found that the interspecial nudity felt at least somewhat subversive). But amid the great Old Spice campaigns of recent years (Bruce Campbell, Neil Patrick Harris, “I have hair here…but not here…,” “That was me…before I started using Old Spice”) it sort of got buried, possibly an amusing curiosity but not really notable enough to make the year-end highlight reel.

Now this one. Building off of the first, the same centaur appears, now vaguely offended by the notion that Old Spice would automatically assume that he would like their LiveWire product. “Why, Old Spice?” he pleads. “Because it’s two things…and I’m two things? THAT’S TWOTHINGSISM!” End commercial.

I don’t know, everything about this ad–and there really isn’t all that much to this ad–just knocks me out. The little glance centaur guy does over his shoulder to the super listing the two things that Old Spice LiveWire is. The fanatical gleam in the guy’s eye as he decries the product’s numerical prejudice. The emphatic way he places the product down on his horse-ass. All great, though they are mere details when addressing the commercial’s real appeal–that Old Spice took a barely popular ad punchline, and not only assumed that it was worthy of a sequel, but that it needed to be taken that extra mile further into near-inaccessible absurdity. I mean, we all know what’s coming next, right? Twothingsism trials with centaur guy as the plaintiff and Old Spice as the defendant. News pundit debate shows on the root cause of twothingsism. Centaur guy dating a girl only to discover that she only digs him because of her two-things fetish. Before you know it, it’s got its own racially offfensive TV show. Soon, you’ll even know the actor who plays centaur guy’s name–and maybe even be able to relate a funny backstory about the horse. I’ve seen this movie before–and hey, I liked it pretty well the first time.

By the way, I used Right Guard out of necessity for like the first time ever this week and it kind of sucks. There’s really very few areas in which Old Spice is not dominant.

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One Response to “Commercial Break: Twothingsism”

  1. Sam Skeen said

    I was just listening to Dan Savage’s podcast (the guy who writes Savage Love every week in city papers) the other day, and he mentioned this ad campaign. He said it was to blame if children of this era grow up having unsatiable centuar fetishes. Funny you should mention such a similar thing.

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