Friday, March 27, 2009
Well, the idea is back and lamer than ever. This time, the dead celebrity is a dog.
I turn on my television, and there's Owen Wilson, attempting to open a bag of Purina Brand Puppy Chow while a little dog scampers about, getting in the way, and ultimately knocking the bag over and spilling it's contents all over the linoleum. Just in case you didn't see the film and don't know why Owen Wilson is doing a commercial for dog food, Wilson repeatedly refers to the puppy as "Marley."
Yes, Purina has apparently purchased the contract of one of the 27 dogs (no exaggeration, that's the number of different "Marleys" appearing in the film Marley & Me) America "fell in love with" a while back to make an appearance in a dog food commercial. Cute idea, huh?
The problem is- the dog dies at the end of the film. How can we be seeing Puppy Marley enjoying this Fine Product from Purina when we know the dog died at the end of the film?
What's next? Clint Eastwood as his character in Gran Tarino, in a commercial for Bud Lite?
It seems to me that once you've killed off a character in a movie, you can't use that character in a commercial. The character is DEAD. There aren't any "further adventures of Marley" to be exploited in commercials for dog food, squeaky toys, or anything else. He's DEAD.
Oh, and that means no sequels, either. Just a friendly reminder.
Friday, March 20, 2009
I assume that "drinkability" is Bud Lite's version of the "No bones" concept I encountered when I lived in Western New York, back in the early-90s. When I drank beer with friends, and the beer went down easy, we would say that there were clearly "no bones in this beer." What we meant (I think) was that we were thirsty and the beer tasted good. So I suppose that nowadays, we might say that the beer "sure is drinkable tonight." That is, if we wanted to be really, really lame.
Anyway, on to the commercial which finally convinced me that it was time to post: We see a bunch of twenty-and-thirty-somethings standing around at a backyard barbecue. A man and a woman, both holding a Bud Lite, watch as one of their fellow partygoers is jumping up and down on a trampoline. This guy's fun comes to an abrupt end when he lands too close to the side of the trampoline; the flimsy thing collapses, causing the jumper to crash into a table placed too close, and then finally to the ground.
The facial expression of the observers doesn't change one bit. The message is "Instability: Bad. Drinkability: Good."
Ok, a few questions for our friends at Budweiser: First, why is this adult man jumping up and down on a trampoline? Is he drunk, or just stunted intellectually? Second, is someone at this party going to put down their beer and see if the guy is badly injured? Every year, thousands of people suffer sprained ankles, concussions, broken bones and severe spinal injuries on these things. The guy in the commercial didn't just fall off the trampoline- he fell into a table with enough force to cause it to collapse. Why don't the two people watching seem to give a shit?
Finally- when are you guys going to get past the Lowest Common Denominator theory that it's funny when people get hurt? It would be just fine with me if we stopped using the misfortune of others as a punchline to giggle and snark at. I'm imagining that in the real world, one populated by Actual Human Beings, there would be a mad rush to this guy's side to make sure he isn't in need of paramedics. I hope to G-d that Bud Lite isn't promoting the kind of brutal coldbloodedness exhibited by the people in this commercial.
To conclude, let's revisit the whole "Drinkability" issue. Yes, Bud Lite is "Drinkable." So is tap water. Come to think of it, if you can't tell the difference between Bud Lite and tap water, you probably think that pretty much everything has "drinkability."
"Yes, I sure do remember that day" Daddy continues. Then we see what Daddy is thinking about- the NCAA Final Four Championship game that took place that night.
This is supposed to be amusing- on the day that his daughter is celebrating her sixth birthday in the next room, Daddy is reminiscing about-- how Carmelo Anthony scored twenty points and won MVP of the tournament honors. Kind of makes you wonder where Daddy's head was on the day of his daughter's birth, doesn't it? Let's hope Mommy was thoughtful enough to give birth in the morning, so Daddy could run home and watch his precious basketball game.
I really, really hate crap like this. What we are being told is that every time his little girl has a birthday, this stupid moron is going to be reminded of a fricking college basketball game. And he's going to devote time to remembering it. Haha, isn't that funny. Isn't it amusing that daddy thinks more of a basketball game than his little girl. No, in fact, it's not funny at all. It's not original. It's just mean-spirited. Which, more and more, seems to be what the makers of tv commercials seem to be going for anyway. So I guess I should congratulate the good people at CBS for a Job Well Done. When I've finished choking down the bile, maybe I'll do just that.
This time, the family is holding a yard sale- no doubt necessitated by the refusal of mom's thoughtless choad husband and kids to use old rollover cellphone minutes instead of "new, fresh" ones. A potential customer and her own son notes a bowl full of tiny clocks, which have come to represent the rollover minutes the family doesn't want to use because ewwww they are oooolllld. Naturally, the person who put the bowl of "minutes" up for sale is the asshat oldest son-- they don't belong to him, he obviously doesn't pay his own cellphone bill, but here he is, trying to dump the old minutes so he isn't "forced" to use them instead of fresh, "better" new ones.
The mother notices the bowl of "minutes" and cries out "No! These are not for sale! They are perfectly good minutes!" Dickweed oldest son remarks to the potential customer "mom's a little crazy about her antiques."
As mom explains that the rollover minutes work the same as new ones, and save money, her ungrateful jerkwad son rolls his eyes and shakes his head. Oh for the day when he's free of his mother and her totally lame, old-fashioned, money-saving ways and can blather and text away on "his" phone without worrying that he might be using "old, stale" minutes!
This kid doesn't need to be educated on the value of saving money, or a new, improved monthly cellphone plan. He needs a good kick in the teeth for the way he mocks and disobeys his mother in each one of these commercials. He needs his precious cellphone taken away and chucked into the fricking garbage, to be retrieved only when he's ready to go out, get a job, and pay his own god-damned cellphone bill. And most of all, he needs to be taught some respect.
I am so damned sick of commercials which show kids pitted against parents, and no one does them better (or worse) than AT&T. I hate to think that there are actually parents out there who exhibit the spines of jellyfish like this mom does, raising self-centered little monsters because they are afraid of not being "popular" with their children. I really want to see an SNL or MAD TV skit where the mom flattens her husband with a skillet (for his attitude in the "Milky Minutes" ad-- see January archives) or confiscates the cellphone from her jerkwad son (for his attempt to sell "minutes" at a yard sale.) The sooner the better.
What makes this the perfect time? "The Credit Card companies have just received $45 billion in bailout money from the government, and they must clear their books, once and for all." Wow, so CapitalOne wants to liquidate it's accounts, which makes it eager to settle my debt for pennies on the dollar, right? Right? And it's all because of "The Obama Bailout program" (yes, the President's name is actually used in the commercial) right? Right?
Um, hardly. This commercial doesn't even make a weak attempt at the truth. These scammers take something in the news that everyone has been hearing about but no one really understands and tries to use it to dupe the listener out of his money, and it's beyond shameful. Bank Of America provides credit to millions of people in the form of credit cards and debt-consolidation loans. Bank Of America is in the process of receiving Bailout money. This cash infusion from the US Government (courtesy of the taxpayers, some of whom are Bank of America customers, of course) does not mean that BOA is closing and wants to liquidate your debt for whatever it can get. There is nothing in the bailout agreement that requires BOA, or any other Credit Card Company, to "clear their books, once and for all"- absolutely NOTHING.
In fact, if the listener would just use his brain for a moment, he'd realize that forgiving debt for pennies on the dollar is the last thing that credit card companies need to do if they want to re-establish solvency. This commercial makes it sound as if BOA, etc. are basically larger relatives of that carpet store down the street which is desperately trying to liquidate it's inventory before it's lease expires. I'd like to be on the line when a customer calls BOA and "offers" to pay off 1/10 of his debt, "take it or leave it."
It's your debt. You took it on. No government program is going to force the credit card companies to forgive it. And all any Credit Card Counseling "service" that tells you otherwise is LYING.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
"Homeland Security has advised all Americans that every home needs an emergency radio, in the event of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, electric power outages, and even terrorist attacks."
Newsmax.com cares so much for the safety of your family, the good people there want every American family to get this radio from their website for FREE, except of course for $5.95 Shipping and Handling. You also get four issues of Newsmax free. Then you get a renewal notice. Then you get charged $50 to have this fish wrap dumped into your mailbox for another eight months.
Then, my guess is, you get another renewal notice and another big charge on your credit card.
But even if the offer is completely on the level, it doesn't excuse the fact that Newsmax is using fear to sell their magazine: the message is "Look, the world is a very scary place. At any moment, your family could find itself in serious, serious trouble. If you don't have a crank-powered radio, you could DIE. Here's how to get one of these radios."
Even in the world of advertising, some things should be off-limits. I'm jaded enough to realize that we are never going to see an end to classic rock songs being used to sell hamburgers and cars, babies being used to sell tires, and sex being used to sell everything. But using the threat of another terrorist attack to sell magazines?? Come on.
Maybe my opinion of this commercial is colored somewhat by my opinion of Newsmax. Aren't familiar with the magazine? This blurb from the website should tell you all you need to know:
Each month in Newsmax magazine you'll read hard-hitting investigative reports and special commentaries from Ben Stein, Dick Morris, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, John Stossel, Bill O'Reilly, David Limbaugh, James Hirsen, Thomas Sowell, Michael Reagan, Ronald Kessler, Christopher Ruddy, and many others.
Fox News commentator Dick Morris calls Newsmax "a must read" for every informed American. Nationally syndicated radio host Michael Reagan, son of the late President Reagan, says: "I guarantee that you'll love Newsmax magazine."
Am I surprised that a right-wing website would use fear of another 9/11 to sell magazines? About as surprised as I was to see the sun set in the West this evening.
Ok, all this is fine. Anyone dumb enough to believe that someone bought time on nationally syndicated radio shows to try to sell a cache of coins stumbled across by accident is soon parted with their money anyway. But here's the part that really ticks me off: After the usual blather about "how you can inspect a roll of these beauties for free!" and "this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, isn't it?" garbage, I believe a line is crossed: One of the announcers says "The FCC has agreed to allow us to release these coins into the market for a limited time...."
Um, the FCC? The Federal Communications Commission? Seriously? Well, no, not seriously. The words "Federal Communications Commission" are not uttered in the ad. The FCC has nothing to do with the trading of coins. But "FCC" is the name of the company selling the coins.
So what's with this "THE FCC" stuff? I can only conclude that these hucksters are trying to con the listeners into believing that the Federal Government has put some kind of seal of approval on this whole deal. And that's not misleading- it's just plain false, and I can't believe it's not 100% intentional.
For the record--
1. The Federal Communications Commission deals with the granting of radio and tv licenses. It has nothing to do with regulating the sale of overpriced coins found in sunken ships or Indiana farmhouses.
2. These shysters badly NEED regulating, because what they are selling is rolls of readily available coins at shockingly inflated prices to people who think they are making an investment in valuable collectibles. And they are doing it by lying- even if they took out the "the FCC" line, I would love to see the evidence that any coins sold by this company were ever found in the hold of a sunken ship or in some forgotten Indiana basement.
A few more points-- these commercials never fail to describe the coins as "virtually uncirculated." What does this mean? Anything the seller wants it to mean, I guess. Also, we are told that we can "inspect" a roll of these "beauties" risk-free for thirty days. That means big Shipping and Handling charges, of course. And how does one go about "inspecting" the roll of coins? Want to bet that opening the roll means you OWN the roll, and the good people at "The FCC" are going to be billing your credit card for the full amount now?
I wonder how many calls The FCC has received from people angry about being scammed into buying coins at stunningly inflated prices. Hopefully, enough to turn the matter over to The Department of Justice.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
But wait- there's something strange here. Where I would expect to see a stock market ticker, I see instead the words HUGE SAVINGS. In tiny words in the right hand corner, in white so that they almost blend into the background, I can make out the word "Advertisement." And in even smaller print at the bottom, I see many, many words, among which are "Advertisement," "Program," and "Real Estate System." But that's all drowned out by the earnest "news" people breathlessly giving me the reports that are "coming in" to the "studio" via "satellite:" The real estate market, combined with "Obama's Mortgage Bailout," makes this a perfect time to buy real estate- if I know how.
Thank goodness, this "news" break, which runs half an hour (Just like the real news!) has managed to contact a "Real Estate Expert," (again, via "Satellite") to give us the "scoop" on this breaking "news." The most hysterical moment comes when the "guest" tells the "reporter" that "I'm glad to be here today to clarify exactly what is happening out there, and how your viewers can take advantage of this..." Of course, this idiot is no "guest"- he's the guy who produced the program, bought the air time, and is now trying to sell you some scam Real Estate-For-Dummies "System."
Here's what really pisses me off about crap like this- first of all, there really are people out there dumb enough to believe that they are watching an actual NEWS program concerning the real estate crisis. After all, if you turn on CNN, MSNBC, etc. you'll see a story on just that topic every night. The average viewer could very well find himself thinking "well, gee, I've heard something about the mortgage crisis, and bailouts, and they mention Obama, so this must be the news." But dressing an Infomercial up to look like a news broadcast is beyond dishonest- it's manipulative. For all the criticism the news media gets for the lousy way it does it's job, people still assume a certain level of neutrality and honesty from the coverage they see. So when they see a guy on what they think is a "news" program hype some great real estate "opportunity," they think that the opportunity is more valid than if they knew what they were watching was an Infomercial.
Second, it's just so damned cheesy. Fake reporters in a fake studio surrounded by fake graphics featuring fake statistics as they talk to a fake guest. How do these clowns keep straight faces during the whole thing? I guess I should give them points for acting ability, anyway.
Finally- aren't we in enough economic trouble without selling commercial time to slugs like the these? The people most likely to respond to this manipulative junk are the ones who are already in trouble and desperately looking for a way out. Like EZ-Cash and Credit Card Counseling services, these guys are just preying on the people who can least afford to be separated from any more of their cash. Tricking them into thinking that they are watching a legit news broadcast is just base and cruel. I really wonder how some of these pigs can sleep at night.
Meanwhile, its only a matter of time before we see fake sports scores and other "news" scrolling across the bottom of the screen, to make it look even more authentic. To avoid lawsuits, probably something along the lines of "Home Team Beats Visitors, 8-7 in Extra Innings" or "Hollywood Stars Divorce, Details to Come." You can set your watch to it. These guys have ZERO shame.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Oh COME ON. Never, in the history of our planet, has a pre-teen girl tried to get her (widowed?divorced?) father to date. I mean, this is disturbing on so many levels. Why do these girls want their dad to play the field? Did their mom die? Are their parents divorced and the girls have a bad relationship with mom? Doesn't really matter- girls this age are NOT interested in seeing their dads going off on dates.
And it's not like they've even picked out a woman that they like- the daughter says "you could be a really good catch for someone"- not "we think you should date Miss Jones, our homeroom teacher." They don't want daddy going out with a particular woman- just ANY woman. NOW.
It gets worse- the guy takes the daughters' advice, goes out on a date, and sends a photo of himself with his new lady friend to her daughters- who high-five eachother with delight.
Again- COME ON!! There are many emotions a preteen girl may feel when her father begins to date again. Resentment. Jealousy. Renewed sense of loss. Anxiety over the future. But happiness over seeing their dad hooking up with a new woman? Not a chance.
Why do the nice people at Nice and Easy want to show little girls anxious to see their dad playing the field, anyway? Do they imagine this is cute? It's not. It's just creepy and weird and not at all realistic.
But heck, at least Keith Hernandez doesn't make an appearence. That's something, anyway.
The ad is for "All-Natural Smoke Free," and it focuses far more on what's wrong with the traditional stop-smoking products than what's right about the product they are trying to sell here. In fact, we are never told what makes All-Natural Smoke Free work.
Yes, you could try the nicotine patch or gum, both of which are often recommended by doctors. "But these will cost you $200-$400." Oh, really? One nicotine patch, worn for a month, will set you back $21 at the online pharmacy I checked out. One hundred and fifty pieces of Nicorette (about a two-month supply for heavy smokers) will cost you $65. Both products are designed to wean you off Nicotine, not become permanent substitutes for cigarettes. So where did All-Natural Smoke Free come up with this $200-$400 figure? You'd have to use BOTH the patch and gum for FOUR MONTHS to reach $200 in expenses (not to mention the money you are saving by NOT SMOKING during this time.) I can only assume that the good people at All Natural Smoke Free just pulled those figures out of their butts (no pun intended.)
But here's the real red flag in this commercial: You can try this product risk-free, paying nothing but a small shipping and handling fee (the phrase "small shipping and handling fee" is used TWICE during the commercial, which is never a good sign.) And my favorite part: What do you get for your "small shipping and handling fee?" A "thirty-day supply of the Smoke Free Capsules (what are they? What are the active ingredients? We are never told) "A capsule holder" (Come on!) A "DVD support program" (DING DING DING!! PHONY HYPNOTISM ALERT! I SMELL KEVIN TRUDEAU!) "Weight loss capsules" (DING DING DING! THIS PRODUCT WORKS SO WELL, YOU'LL BE REPLACING CIGARETTE CRAVINGS WITH FOOD CRAVINGS!!) and a "guide to smoke-free living" (SEE DVD SUPPORT PROGRAM ALERT.)
What does all of this add up to? "A $130 value." Where does this figure come from? I'm not going to repeat the bad pun, but you get the idea. Sugar pills, a plastic container for the sugar pills, and handful of Dexatrim tablets, a stack of CDs designed to keep you entertained while your risk-free trial period expires, and a brochure is a "$130 value?" I doubt it.
Again, you get all this stuff for just a "small shipping and handling fee." And if it doesn't work, just send it back- on your dime, of course.
Come on. You are going to pay a lot of money on Shipping and Handling for a big, heavy box of junk-DVDs that are worse than worthless, weight-loss capsules you could easily pick up at the nearest pharmacy (and get free advice on which ones to take while you are there,) and a "guide" which probably spends more time telling you about time-share opportunities in the Caribbean than it does about quitting smoking.
This ad makes me almost as angry as the ones for Credit Counselors. Especially in bad economic times, there are a lot of people out there desperate to quit an addiction that may cost them thousands of dollars a year, and here come these scumbags on the radio to try to scam them out of money they don't have. I'd call them shameless, but they'd probably take it as a compliment.
Friday, March 6, 2009
That's right- the guys standing in front of the metro station are offering to sell you maps they snatched up at the information booths in the museums and which are available to all comers, for free.
Kind of sleazy, right? Maybe you'd even call it a fleecing, or a rip off. Well then, how are we to describe what the good people at FreeCreditReport.com offer us in radio and television commercials?
We all know the commercials featuring the idiot with the guitar, singing his tales of woe- how his whole life went down the toilet because someone stole his identity, and oh if ONLY he had taken advantage of FreeCreditReport.com, he could have prevented the disaster which brought him down "like an atom bomb" (to borrow from the lyrics of one of his commercials.
Side Note- is this guy the unluckiest shmuck in the universe, or what? First, the theft of his identity reduces him to dressing up like Judge Reinhold in Fast Times at Ridgmont High and selling fish to "tourists in t-shirts." Later, we see him living in his mother-in-law's basement with his new wife, who had her credit stolen. I think when the asteroid that ultimately kills us all finally slams into the Earth, it will land on this guy's house. Or basement.
FreeCreditReport.com sells a service you are entitled to for FREE- everyone is entitled to a free accounting of their credit score from each of the scoring industries every single year. If you sign up for a "free" credit report from FreeCreditReport.com, you'll get a "free" credit report- but you'll also get 11 credit reports over the next year which will cost you $14.95 each.
That's right- you'll pay almost $180 for something you are entitled to for FREE. Of course, you get 12 credit reports instead of one, but you only need that many reports if the commercials have made you paranoid that Identity Thieves are stalking you, waiting for you to drop your guard for a moment so they can swoop in and steal your good name. Better get constant updates on your credit, or you'll be doomed to holding down crappy jobs (Why? What does having bad credit have to do with getting a decent job? It makes NO SENSE!) and living in basements.
One more snark- the commercial that shows the FreeCreditReport.com moron playing an electric guitar at a Renaissance Faire. Fail, fail, fail!! I'll admit to being enough of a geek to like Renaissance Faires, and I can tell you that none worth the title would allow a performer to use an electric guitar!
If you still want to sign up for FreeCreditReport.com, I have some maps of the National Mall I'd like to sell you.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
My second car- and the first one which had a title in my name- was a blaze-orange 1974 Superbeetle. I loved that car. Except for the fact that it burned more oil than gasoline, broke down pretty much every other day, and wouldn't start if it was under 32 degrees outside until I had a little heater installed underneath the engine, it was a great car. Broke my heart to sell it- for $600- after a year when it was time to go back to college.
Anyway, what all this is leading to is my critique of the series of Volkswagen commercials featuring the black VW bug talking into a microphone- first saying "thees is getting very interesting" (when it really, really wasn't- I mean, come on, a floating computer screen which you signed to find out which cookie-cutter volkswagen matched your personality?) The Jump the Shark moment for this particular theme was when we had an utterly creepy pair of twins come in to pick out a car- one of the Stepford Sisters says "I came in yesterday and got a Passat with Sign and Drive, and now my sister wants one too." This sister is ultimately mortified when it turns out her clone is better matched to a Jetta. Horrors! (As if there's any difference between a Passat and a Jetta- Slylock Fox would be stumped attempting to find one.)
And now the tag line is "it's what the people want."
What the people want is a boring pseudo-compact that only comes in white? Really? Well, at least you aren't trying to tell me that "this is getting very interesting" anymore. But in your most recent effort, dear Volkswagen people, you've really lost me.
We have a number of people telling us things like " the people want good gas mileage." "the people want comfort." "the people want style." Then you totally blow it, showing what appears for all the world like an 8-year old girl telling us from the back seat "the people want to go potty. Now."
Potty? Really? From an eight-year old? Uck. Come on.
Bring back the clone girls. At least they had a potentially interesting storyline: the passive-agressive battle between the Dominant Human and her once-submissive, suddenly slightly assertive copy. Now that the formerly retiring spinoff has broken free and purchased a Jetta, what's next? Different clothes? A smile?
Come on. Be bold. Show us the back story. I'm sure it will be plenty ugly, but it's bound to be better than infantalized preteens demanding a chance to go Potty.
POTTY? Did you even look at this girl before you handed her the script?