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Archive for the ‘Commercial Break’ Category

Commercial Break: Like a Good Advertising Campaign, State Farm is There

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 14, 2010

Like no other advertising campaign in recent memory, I feel like State Farm’s latest series–referred to as “Magic Jingle” spots in the YouTube titles, so I guess that’s what were going with as a title–was created almost entirely to my specifications. It’s all there–the ridiculous central concept taken to an overly-literal extreme, the inexplicable gaps in general logic, the memorable quotes that work fantastically as out-of-context catch-phrases, even the little details in production that make the clips richer upon repeat viewings. As far as I can tell, the only things missing are the appearances of That Guy character actors in main or supporting roles and/or the use of classic pop songs badly in need of a 21st-century second life as either a plot fixture or a soundtrack. Those minor details aside, these spots are about as close as we’re likely to get to an Intensities in Ten Suburbs-approved platonic ideal for what the basic template of a classic ad campaign should be.

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Commercial Break: The Worst Wife in Commercial Banking

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on April 20, 2010

Molly Culver, what have you done to yourself? I liked you well enough back in your VIP days, and you were one of the more tolerable regular commentators on the I Love the _____s Vh1 series. Is playing the most smug, self-centered, and thoroughly oblivious shrew in TV advertising really the best career move you can muster these days?

Really, it’s hard to properly explain how much hatred I have in my heart for this character, or sympathy for her poor henpecked husband, who once–just once–I want to see end that ski-loft commercial by just railing into her. “Yeah, you like that, don’t you, you little bitch? You thought you were sooo fuckin’ smart with your cute little games, but now who looks like a silly fucking whore, huh?” And then he starts with the thoroughly inappropriate racial slurs. Don’t ask.

Anyway, point is, is that a surprising numbher of YouTube commentors have already summed up my feelings about these spots far better than I ever could:

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Commercial Break: Twilight: New Coverage Plan

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 23, 2010

The good part: The werewolf going “Soooo…sup?” to not-Kristen Stewart at the end. Easily the best and most succinct parody of the core ridiculousness at the center of the entire Twilightverse that I’ve seen so far. The bad part: The fact that despite the rest of the look being pretty spot on (down to the fact that at first glance, I thought it actually was Robert Pattinson playing the dude), not-Kristen Stewart is blonde and apparently pushing 30. Maybe they just needed to change one big detail to get around some sort of copyright issue. Shame, though.

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Commercial Break: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 11, 2010

The key to this one : the slight raise in pitch and volume as TMYMCSL exclaims “Look again — THE TICKETS ARE NOW DIAMONDS!

Look over your shoulder, GEICO–Old Spice is coming up from behind. Although I am starting to kinda dig your new campaign, too.

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Commercial Break: Punch Buggy Super Bowl

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 8, 2010

It’s hard to say why the Saints winning the Super Bowl left me so underwhelmed this year. Maybe it’s because I’m still reeling from that NFC Championship Game. Maybe it’s because I got too personally invested in Peyton Manning making his stake as the greatest quarterback of all time and somehow making the once-infallible Tom Brady seem like something of a decade afterthought. Maybe it’s because I still don’t understand how, for the life of me, that fucking on-side kick actually worked (BAAASKETTTTTT!!!!!!) Maybe it’s just because the volume was low on the TV on the party where I was watching. Or maybe it’s because, for what seems like at least the third year in a row, the commercials ranged from average to disappointing to downright offensive (no, Bud Light, putting in T-Pain at the end does not make it OK for you to do another autotune-themed commercial about two years after its sell-by date).

Only two ads seemed consensus standouts in any sort of positive way: The Google “Parisian Love” ad and the Volkswagen “Punch Buggy” ad. Not much to say about the former–just a nice, clever, well-structured spot that makes you wonder why more big companies don’t go the understated route. (Well, excet for Taco Bell, for whom this absolutely mortifying Charles Barkley ad probably does register as understated). But about the Punch Buggy spot, the questions and comments abound. Let’s take a look: Read the rest of this entry »

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Commercial Break: Halls, Refreshingly Creepy

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on October 21, 2009

The answer to that age-old question, “What do you get when you combine the surreal, disturbing imagery of a Skittles commercial with the unsettling sexual tension of a Quiznos commercial?” Who knew that Halls was so concerned with cornering the 18-25 stoner-friendly demographic? Are we supposed to have notoriously bad breath or something?

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Commercial Break / Eugoogly: Gidget, The Taco Bell Chihuahua

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 22, 2009

Taco Bell

Back in the day, Taco Bell was a second-class citizen in the world of fast food. We knew they existed, sure, and occasionally we even patronized their establishment (albeit under duresss), but we never really thought of them as being in the same leagues with the McDonalds, Wendy’s, or even the Subways of the world.The franchise’s primary claim to fame was being the only restaurant available in the post-apoclayptic world of the 1993 Sylvester Stallone classic Demolition Man. Then in 1997, a tiny little chihuahua named Gidget entered the picture, and suddenly, everyone and their mother was running for the border. With a mere four words–“Yo quiero Taco Bell,” which took about an hour to join the ranks of “Where’s the Beef?,” “You Deserve a Break Today” and “Time to Make the Donuts” in the ranks of truly iconic fast food catchpharses–Gidget was a national sensation. Soon she was trapping Godzilla, appearing on late night talk shows and even cameoing in Legally Blonde 2. The campaign was ended in controversy over racial stereotyping in 2000, but in her three years at the top, Gidget was Hallie Eisenberg, Wendy Kaufman and Lil’ Penny rolled into one. And Taco Bell would never be the same.

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Commercial Break: Hating on the Frosty Posse

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 25, 2009

What decade is this that’s coming to an end, again? Hey, Wendy’s execs–you can throw a little auto-tune in there to give the illusion of being contemporary, but if you throw out a bunch of (mostly) caucasian males wearing all white and have them sing in uninspiring harmonies over orchestral-stab-based backing tracks, what you’ve got is a decade-out-of-date boy band parody. (Plus, the name? C’mon). I mean, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t catchy, or that it wasn’t a gigantic step up from the maddening “Threeconomics” series, but even compared to the new Taco Bell “Rappers at the Drive-In Window” ad…not so good.

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Commercial Break: LeBron & Kobe, Kobe & LeBron

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 15, 2009

Well, I guess it has been over a decade since Lil’ Penny was dominating the airwaves. Whether or not the lack of loud-mouthed, hyper-enthusiastic hype-spewing puppet representations of superstar NBA players really left a gap in the leaves of TV viewers since then is a matter for debate, but I guess Nike figures that a classic formula never really goes out of style. Hence this pair of ads, sure to become timeout staples for the rest of the NBA post-season. The premise, in case you’re too lazy to click above, is of puppet forms of the two most dominant players remaining in the playoffs and probably the two most famous ballers on the planet at the moment, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, jawing at one another as they prepare for their respective championship runs. LeBron, having been there only once and yet to emerge victorious, plays the role of the excited young’n, while Kobe, having won three times already, sits back and lets his rings do the talking (and then talks about them a whole lot more just in case).

First off, these commercials are great. It’s been a relative dry spell for quality ads during these playoffs thusfar (minus the already classic Most Interesting Man in the World and the obligatory captivating failure of a Taco Bell ad campaign–I swear, EVERY year, without fail), but the actually NBA-related ads have been phenomenal–first those great slow-mo, B&W “Where Will Amazing Happen This Year?” playoff moments of years past, and now these Nike spots. They’re funny, they’re catchy, they’re technically impressive, and they’re going to be imminently quotable by the 75th time that I see ’em. Most importantly, they follow my #1 rule for commercial campaigns–they take an inherently ridiculous concept much, much too far (although not without a sense of humor about it, as when after Kobe goes through his big to-do about his championship rings, LeBron semi-rhetorically asks “Why do we live together?“)

The most brilliant part of ’em is probably that they make no effort whatsoever to capture the personalities–or even the voices–of the original athletes. I guess the Nike people figured that as long as they weren’t going to get LeBron and Kobe themselves (or that they wouldn’t be able to handle the acting assignment) for the ads, they might as well not even attempt the difficult (and potentially insulting) task of trying to replicate their mannerisms in puppet form. So instead we get these caricatures of Kobe as some sort of 60s-style jazz hipster (I venture to guess that real-life Kobe has never worn a hat like that before in his life) and of LeBron as a nine-year-old getting to go to Sea World for the first time. Hey, maybe this is what Kobe and LeBron are really like when they step off the court (although none of the reviews I’ve seen of Kobe Doin’ Work lead me to be leave as much), but I can’t help but picture the two of them watching these commercials from their mansions and nervously hailing their PR guys–“Hey…that’s not really what people think I’m like, is it?”

My one reservation about these commercials, however, is the assumed implication that LeBron vs. Kobe will end up being the story of the playoffs, as the two will invariably lead their respective teams to a showdown in the finals to once-and-for-all determine which of the two is the dominant player in the NBA at the moment. Personally, I’m rooting for it, especially on the highly outside chance that Kobe ended up winning the thing (I’m still fascinated by the dude, and have something of a great disdain for Mr. James), and obviously, so is the NBA. Bulls vs. Celtics in the first round showed that a classic match-up could still capture the public’s imagination, and now Crosby vs. Ovechkin over in the NHL showed how much a personal rivalry at the forefront of such a closely fought fight could galvanize the series, and the public watching it. Lakers/Celtics last year was great and all, but on a superstar level, it kind of had a three-on-one gang-up feel to it, given the C’s trio of marquee players. Kobe vs. LeBron..fans won’t have seen anything like it in decades.

But you know what? It might not happen. Lest we forget, the Lakers are still struggling through the semis, and for all we know they might not even get out of there, facing potential elimination in Game 7 at the Staples Center on Sunday. And even if they get through that, they’ve got the Nuggets–8-2 so far this post-season, with an equally potent star in Carmelo and an arguably superior supporting cast in Billups, K-Mart, JR, Birdman and company–to worry about. And hey, while we’re at it, the Cavs still gotta get through either the defending champs (Garnett-less yes, but still a team that has proven to be a tough out for anyone-) or the Magic (who don’t seem too intimidating, but for some reason seem to have Cleveland’s number in recent years). Kobe’s on thinner ice at the moment, but both still have a ways to go before they can start concerning themselves with personal vendettas. And this isn’t even the only ad campaign featuring the two’s rivalry to be circulating this post-season. If one of ’em doesn’t make it, it’s gonna be the Dan & Dave debacle all over again, no?

Well, if you see Ron Artest get called for a flagrant two and ejected on Sunday for flashing Kobe “menacing glances”…you know what shoe company to blame, I guess.

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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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