Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Disgusting, Manipulative BS from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

This latest pile of steaming crud from the anti-doctor vultures who prey on the fears of desperate people reaches new levels of utter vileness. We see a series of people throwing out talking points like "Strength" and "Character" and "Taking Control" when discussing their diagnosis of terminal cancer:

"I wasn't interesting in 'managing' my cancer, I wanted to fight it. I wanted this cancer out of me."

"I was determined to beat this thing."

"It's all about taking control, about finding the strength, about having the character to see the fight through..."

"When I walked in the doors, I knew this is the place I wanted to be..."

"They did more than help us fight. They gave me my father back."

Not one damn word about treatments. Nothing about medicines, or therapies, or machines. Nothing but buzzwords- as if all you really need to fight cancer is a strong personality and the right kind of "character."

These people are scum-sucking maggots. I have nothing but contempt for any organization which preys on the fears and desperation of people who have been told by actual DOCTORS that they have cancer and that managing it is the only real option they have. As the son of a cancer survivor, I can only hope that there is a special, extra-hot level of Hell reserved for monsters who are willing to make money telling sick, scared, desperate people that with a little "Can-Do Spirit," they can somehow will the cancer out of their bodies, and that they should start by dismissing the heartless "experts" who used "xrays" and (chuckle) "modern medicine" to diagnose their problems.

Oh, and I apologize to vultures, vampires, and scum-sucking maggots who may be reading this blog. I didn't mean to cause offense by comparing you to the good people at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

No one who actually does this deserves to live even one more day

Remember "what would you do for a Klondike Bar?" It was the first ad campaign I ever saw which featured people acting like brainless assholes in the service of some stupid tag line. I remember people clucking like chickens, flapping their arms up and down, and performing all kinds of brainless, pride-stripping stunts in order to "win" a 79-cent ice cream sandwich.

In more recent times, we've got people willing to squeal with delight at the smell of Maxwell House coffee ("Frrrreeeeeeesshhhhh!") and dance for the cameras to the tune of "Five Dollar Foot Longs."

And now, we have Punch Dub Days at your local Volkswagen Dealer. "What's this Punch Dub Days?" the prospective male customer asks the salesman when he notices the huge PUNCH DUB DAYS sign (oddly enough, the salesman has apparently gone through an entire pitch without even mentioning the ad campaign.)

"Oh, you know- when you see a Volkswagen, you punch the person next to you."

Oh God please, make it stop. It was called Slug Bug, and I vaguely remember playing it when I was about eight years old and the world seemed to be filled with little Volkswagen bugs. My parents had one, and my grandfather's became my first car. It was an innocent, stupid little game, which had nothing to do with selling today's Looks Like Every Other Car on the Road version of Volkswagen. But naturally, the ditz Please Die Tomorrow female companion of our Prospective Customer buys right in, looking around the show room and noticing that- I'll be darned!- it's full of Volkswagens!

"Red one!" she shouts, hitting her Soon To Be Ex Male Friend in the arm. "White One!" Another punch. "Blue One!" Another punch. Yes, it's very amusing, watching this deranged lunatic hitting her friend. (And I'm sure it would have been just as acceptable if it was the guy hitting the girl. Sure I am. Expect to see that commercial real soon.)

It finally ends with the male customer taking a break from rubbing his sore arm to hit the salesman. Oh, the hilarity.

Congratulations, Volkswagen. This vile "Hit someone when you see a Volkswagen" campaign actually manages to reach Cell Phone Commercial loathsomeness. Along with you, I hope this leads to a lot of mentally challenged doofuses hitting each other and yelling "Slug Bug." I hope the mayhem escalates, and weapons are ultimately involved.

Because gosh, think of the publicity!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another disgusting yogurt commercial.

A woman is sitting in her office, enjoying her cup of Light&Fit Yogurt. And I mean really enjoying it. She is scooping it out with her finger. She is tipping the cup back and tapping the bottom as she presses it against her face. She's sucking at the cup. And then she's back to scooping it out with her finger.

Her thoroughly grossed-out and disgusted (I hope) co-worker says " you always eat your yogurt like that?"

Mentally Ill woman who simply cannot accept that she's finished her yogurt (imagine her drinking a milkshake- she probably makes loud slurping noise for thirty minutes before someone yanks the cup out of her hand and tosses it away): "I love it."

Not really an answer, but...

Ok, here are my two biggest problems with this ad (there are more than two, but I'm a bit pressed for time today:)

1. It's easy to image that this woman will next pull out out a pair of shears and cut the plastic cup into slices, and then lick the slices. Right there, in public.

2. The narrator tells us near the end that Light&Fit has "only 80 calories." Yes, indeed it does. And it's such a substantial treat, that this deranged woman is desperate to get every single fraction of those calories into her body before she admits that she just consumed 80 calories of something exactly as filling as a glass of milk. Imagine if Olive Garden tried to sell it's 500-calorie menu by showing a guy frantically scraping the empty plate with his fork, and finally picking it up and licking it until it shone like new. Might as well use the tag line "You'll Still Be Very, Very Hungry When It's Gone."

Hey, honesty in advertising! Got to give Light&Fit some points for that, at least.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I can't Imagine why we are in the middle of an Obesity Epidemic. I really can't.

"Mrs. Jones is freeing her family from restricted calling plans by switching to Sprint..."

Freeing her family. Yes, Mrs. Jones is a regular Harriet Tubman. She's breaking the chains of Limited Minutes Slavery. We aren't told what prompts her to do this, but I think it's easy to guess- she wants to be Mommy the Hero to her cold, distant, wrapped-up-in-themselves housemates.

"Now her daughter isn't, like, limited to like, lame calling plans."

Sprint's contempt for families having long since been established, the company now takes aim at teen-aged girls. Like, they are so, like, lame, ya'know?

"And her son can talk All. Day. Long."

Which means her son doesn't have to fill his days with friends, homework, reading, sports, exercise, school because he's out of minutes. Thank God.

"And when her husband pocket-dials half the country, it's no big deal."

Of course. Daddy is a stupid dick who used to create a huge phone bill because he's too inept to avoid accidentally calling people by- what? Fingering his phone while it's in his pocket? Is this really that common? Doesn't matter- Daddy is stupid. Message sent and received- again.

What's this all about? Seems to me that it's just another chapter in the Encourage Your Family to Devote their Lives to their Phones theme created years ago and promoted with increased aggression by Sprint and their ilk. I can't see any other explanation for commercials which invite customers to spend every waking moment of every day talking themselves hoarse and developing that next layer of callouses on their thumbs. I can't see any other explanation for commercials that encourage kids to replace every other possible activity with talking and texting. Maybe these ads appeal to parents who don't really ever, ever want to talk to their kids again. Maybe they appeal to wives who lost interest in their husbands years ago ( and vice versa) and are grateful that there's this electronic gadget out there that just might keep the spouse occupied while they do their own thing (talk and text to someone else.)

All I know for sure is that this is like, a totally, like, lame commercial. And no, giving a cameo to Flava Flav at the end doesn't help. At ALL.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Surely, AT&T is snarking itself in this new commercial

Owen Wilson's brother and AT&T really outdo themselves in this latest cell phone commercial, which rips off an ancient Taster's Choice ad but far surpasses it in utter stupidity, while serving up a double dose of despair because in attempting to be humorous, it's probably painfully accurate.

Owen Wilson's brother is standing in a restaurant, and he tells the audience that "we've replaced these diners' great AT&T phones with lame non-AT&T substitute phones. Let's see what happens."

Groan. First of all, in a sane world, what should happen? How about this- none of the diners even notices that their phones have been switched, because after all, they are all sitting in a restaurant eating a meal. But because we aren't living in a sane world---

Customer # 1 groans "hey, I don't have any service!"
Customer # 2 bitches "hey, where are my Apps?"
Customer # 3 snaps "hey, what happened to my cool phone??"

All of the diners, feeling frightened, naked and helpless without their little toys, quickly reach their boiling points, lashing out at those around them, waving their arms and- from what we can hear in the background- throwing their substitute phones through the windows of the restaurant.

Of course, the truly horrifying thing about all this is, I don't think we are supposed to be especially critical of these witless choads. We are supposed to share Wilson's "hey, it was just an experiment" shrugged shoulders and sad face as meaning "serves you right for taking away their phones." Of course the diners acted like this- who wouldn't? I mean, what are they going to do now- talk to the people they are dining out with? Don't be ridiculous.

And here's the very worst part- this commercial didn't have to use a restaurant as the setting. It could have used a High School library. Or a family picnic. Or a baseball game. Or a movie theater- while the film was being played- and it would have been just as realistic. No one can EVER be without their phones- EVER.

This is supposed to be funny. I find it depressing- because it rings so true.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It's What We Do? Really?

Fortunately, anyone who has been watching commercials for more than a few years must by now be completely indoctrinated into "men are bizarre, incomprehensible idiot slobs" theme, and therefore won't take too much offense at Budweiser's latest "look at these stupid, ragged weirdos and how they greet each other" ad.

"There have been many versions of the Social Greeting over the years." Has there now? I'm stuck in the 18th century, I guess, because I still greet people of the same sex with a handshake. Maybe it's my famous Vermont-bred fastidiousness.

"The Fist Bump was fun, for a while." Really? "The Low Five. The Chest Bump" (Seriously? I've never seen two guys who weren't already drunk out of their skulls chest bump each other.) "The Bro Hug Double Back Tap Combo" (now we know Budweiser is just making crap up.)

It goes on. "The Forearm Grab." "The Head Butt." "The Outlaw" (pretending to shoot the guy you are greeting. Oh sure, I've seen that done, many many times. And by 'many, many times,' I mean Never, of course.)

Finally, we get to the point of the commercial- Budweiser unveiling the new, socially acceptable greeting- people banging glasses and bottles of Budweiser together. Oh, goody! If this becomes popular, we can expect bars and restaurants to get a lot louder. And a lot stupider.

But I'm not too worried about it. My guess is that this ad was created by the same creative team of geniuses who brought us "Five Dollar Foot Longs" last winter, and within a week or so were trying to tell us that the "Five Dollar Foot Long" jingle had taken the nation by storm, and that everyone was doing it. (Everyone cool, I mean.) Oddly, this craze is in very little evidence in my neck of the woods- I'm sure that the DC suburbs are just a tiny island of the terminally Uncool, and if I just traveled beyond my immediate surroundings I would find people singing "Five Dollar! Five Dollar! Five Dollar Foot Longs!" in the streets of every other town in the country. And since I clearly live in a Dead Zone for social phenomenons, I expect that I will continue to see people shaking hands and occasionally hugging their greetings, the clueless philistines.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My guess is, this date is NOT "The Beginning."

Here's a nice couple sitting at a table at TGI Fridays. The female is a chirpy, toothy little thing who throughout the commercial is WAY too excited to be at this chain restaurant. The guy is an average-looking, balding, dumpy doofus who is way too interested in keeping this date within the parameters of a pretty damned tight budget.

"I'll have the Green Bean fries" this woman practically squeaks at the waitress. "Ah, a light eater!" her miserly prick of a date thought-bubbles approvingly.

"For the entree, I'll have the Sizzling Chicken" she continues. Now her date is suddenly alarmed- "Entree?" Clearly, he didn't count on this. He figured he'd get this girl in and out of this restaurant with the spare change from his car's ashtray.

"And for desert, I'll have the Cheesecake!" our heroine concludes, showing all 32 teeth and a beaming smile that gives the impression that being brought to TGI Friday's is the Greatest Experience of Her Life. At this point, The Guy Who Will Get the Damage is nearing his own breaking point- "Dessert?? What does she think I am, a bank???" I'm not kidding.

Then the guy notices the "Three Course Meal for Only $12.99" label on the front of the menu. Oh, thank goodness! This isn't going to break him! "I'll have the same" he informs the waitress, earning a dimple-filled gushy smile of delight from the girl- seriously, it does NOT take much to send this woman into spasms of ecstasy, does it?

Apparently, this guy invited this girl to dinner hoping that she would say "no." Once she said "yes," he hoped that she would order a side salad and a glass of water, and then offer to cover the tip. In other words, he's a cheap bastard who suffered waves of intestinal agony at the thought of shelling out $20-$30 on something as inconsequential as a date with a cute girl.

Apparently also, this guy doesn't eat at TGI Friday's very often. TGI Friday's is exactly the kind of place you take a date when you aren't sure if you really like the person you are escorting all that much, and don't want to drop a wad of dough on something that might not pan out. Olive Garden is too cheap, Ruth's Chris is too upscale. You go to TGI Friday's because you know it's pretty damned impossible to overspend there- for this guy to freak out because his date (gasp) orders an entree tells me nothing good about him.

I don't think that his date's ridiculous smile is going to last very long- maybe when she finds out that "Dinner and a Movie" means TGI Friday's and then back to his apartment to watch whatever showed up in the mail from Netflix that afternoon, it will finally be wiped from her silly face.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Give me a break- It's a USED CAR

What is it with Mercedes-Benz? All of their commercials attempt to convince us that their Used cars are something more than Used cars. The word "used" is never uttered in any of their ads- instead, we hear the laughingly wordy substitute "Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles."

"Certified Pre-Owned?" Doesn't that translate into "we guarantee in writing that this car was originally purchased and driven by at least one other person?" Well, that's pretty special- the next time I buy a used car, I want it to come with a Certificate of Pre-Ownership. The scratches, dents, worn carpeting and odometer reading just isn't going to cut it for me anymore- I want a CERTIFICATE telling me that someone else used to make payments on this thing!

In this particularly annoying Mercedez-Benz commercial, a little girl is musing about how she will someday own the car she's being driven to kindergarten in- "and when this is MY car, I'M not letting kids put their feet up on the seat!" Oh, please. First of all, I'm sure it's every little kid's dream to inherit a 20-year old car which was Used (sorry, "Pre-Owned") when her PARENTS bought it. Second, this kid is so fixated on the car that she's already creating rules she'll be imposing on her non-existent children when her parents hand it off to her?

(There's another commercial- I'm not sure it's for Mercedez-Benz- where a little brat in the back seat grunts and shakes his head until Daddy agrees to the Deluxe Car Wash option, because after all, it will be Little Brat's car in a dozen years or so, and that makes it necessary to give it an expensive bath now.....somehow....)

But I digress from my main point- I don't care if it's a 2009 Mercedes-Benz, a 2003 Honda Civic, or a 1977 Gremlin. If it had a previous owner, it's a USED CAR. Not "Certified Pre-Owned." USED. Get off your pedestal, you pompous blowhards.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to finish off the Pre-Cooked Dinner in my refrigerator. Maybe you eat leftovers, but I'm too good for that.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Super Bowl Ads- Just a few quick thoughts, to start with

My plan had been to blog during the Super Bowl; naturally I was knocked offline and I couldn't get back on until this morning. Funny how that happens during high-traffic days- the last two days I had great difficulty getting online were Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanks for the "service," Comcast.

I guess I could "upgrade" to "Lightning Fast High-Speed Connectivity" with Comcast, that would solve my connection problems, right? OH WAIT- I tried to do that, last fall- and three futile visits from a "technician" later, gave up and spent a Saturday morning driving out to the 'burbs to return their ineffectual modem.

Again- thanks for the "service," Comcast.

So now I'll have to catch up on my blogging, as I see the Super Bowl ads repeated over the next several weeks. Today I'll just make a few broad observations on what I saw as the main themes pushed upon us by the ad wizards this year:

1. Men in Underwear. I counted at least three separate commercials - including one especially loathsome spot mocking office "casual days" by showing us a parade of pale, dumpy men walking around sans trousers- featuring men walking around in their underwear. I really wish the guys who write these things would leave their personal issues for the therapists to deal with, and stop inflicting them on us innocent viewers.

2. Men as pussy-whipped dish rags- I hate that term "pussy-whipped," but I can't think of an appropriate alternative. I saw at least one commercial whose theme was "you've lost your soul to the dominant female in your household, do something about it"- I think the message was that, as a guy, you can do the dishes, spend days shopping for lingerie (underwear again!) etc. but if you want to retain any shred of self-respect, you'd BETTER drive a Man-Car, and drive it FAST. (The "Do not Attempt" disclaimer makes no sense in a commercial that warns you that your manhood is at stake if you don't do what we advise. To hell with the small print, I'm flooring this sucker!)

3. A continuation of Bud Lite's "morbid obsession with beer is funny" ad campaign. Men screaming with delight at the mere mention of beer. Men willing- hell, determined- to stay for a Baby Shower because gleaming bottles of Bud Lite are being served. A house made out of beer bottles and cans, gradually demolished by a horde of pathetic guests who really need to call AA. An entire town of hopeless drunks willing to create a bridge with their bodies so that the beer truck can get into town (that commercial was both creative and SAD.) We get it, Budweiser- Beer is the very Stuff of Life. And it's so rare, one must grab for it at every opportunity, displaying huge eyes and gaping mouth as one does so.

By the way, the moment the game was over, I switched over to ESPN, where within seconds I was treated to a Wheaties Commercial featuring Peyton Manning throwing footballs in a wheat field and repeating to himself "make the play." Priceless!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sometimes, It's all in the timing

Don't you love it when the guy who schedules the commercials shows a sense of humor?

Commercial #1- we see several people composing love sonnets to their Big Mac Wraps. One guy tells his meat-stuffed, greasy pita that "you look different, but I feel like I've known you all my life." A girl draped over a sheet for a picnic coos to her sandwich "I just want to eat you up." Another girl simply sighs "I LOVE YOU" as she gazes adoringly at the oily object of her affections.

Commercial #2, immediately following Commercial #1-- an ad for, in which several people tell us what they were looking for in a soul mate, and how helped them find that Special Someone, At Last.

The only way this could have worked out better is if they had used the same people from Commercial #1 in Commercial #2, and given them lines like "I thought that all I really needed in my life was a pile of grilled hamburger meat, flavored mayo and iceberg lettuce jammed into a cone of flat bread. Then I learned about and this 'meeting other humans' thing. Really changed my life- and I've lost weight, too!"

More likely, the people in Commercial #1 are the sad ruins of the people in Commercial #2, reduced by a year of failed experiments in dating arranged by to giving up on ever meeting someone, and settling for brief but far more satisfying relationships with fast food.

Just wait they find out that Big Mac Wraps are available Only For a Limited Time. More evidence that you should never get too close to anyone or anything, because they will always let you down in the end.

Friday, February 5, 2010

1-800-WTF Was THAT??

Guy gives his wife/girlfriend/whatever a dozen roses for Valentine's Day. She instantly breaks down sobbing.

Wife: "I....I.....(gasp, sob).."

Confused husband/boyfriend: "Um...don't you like it?"

Wife: "I...I...(gasp, sob, tears rolling down face)...I am so happy! It makes me feel all (sob) warm and fuzzy inside!" And we see the WEIRDEST thing I've seen in a commercial for a long time- what looks like a powder puff from a cosmetics case except it's glowing and has eyes, a mouth and a nose, standing near the flowers. What the hell?

Husband continues to look confused. Join the club, buddy.

Wife: "I...LOVE IT!" And the commercial is over, except for the disembodied voice telling us to call 1-800-Flowers to order our own slobbery, overly-emotional Significant Other her own dozen roses which, judging from this commercial, may or may not come with a little glowing loofah.

Unless this is just Part I of a series of commercials featuring this couple (or is it a threesome?), I have to say that this spot completely stumps me. Why is this woman bawling throughout the ad- has any grown person really reacted to getting roses this way? Is she all choked up because she's actually allergic to the roses, or to the little glowing thing that only she can see? (Hey, maybe that is the problem- this woman has recently been released from an asylum, where she had been committed after being tortured for years by hallucinations featuring tiny flower pot-dwelling gremlins, and now she realizes that The Visions have returned. The problem with this theory is that the woman says "I love IT," which suggests to me that she's looking right past the flowers and at the animated cotton boll. And that she likes what she sees.)

Or maybe- just maybe- this commercial is the Lamest Trailer of All Time. I wish I were kidding, but we are told at the very end of the ad that 1-800 Flowers supplies "the official flowers of Valentine's Day- The Movie." God Help Us All.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

How you know this is a really, really bad movie

Sometimes, you can tell from the trailers. If it's a comedy, and the gag revealed in the trailer is just plain unfunny, you know the film is going to be awful, because you assume that they pick the "best" gag for the ad. If it's a romance, and the ad features a scene with the male lead holding the female lead's face in his hands or the line "I have to learn to trust again" or "I'll always be there for you," the movie is really, really bad.

And sometimes, though not often, the ad makers come right out and tell you the movie sucks. Take this new film, When in Rome, for example. Within seconds, we can see it's just another Dust off Screenplay, Change Names and Location, and Release into Theatres Forgotten-in-Five-Minutes waste of celluloid. Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy finds Girl, Boy dies in tragic blimp accident over the Rose Bowl (ok, that last part is lifted from Police Squad, but you get the idea.) But here's where we are informed that this particular film lacks even the smallest modicum of entertainment value- at the very close of the ad, the screen is filled with rave reviews- "Marvelous!" "I loved it!" "Terrific!" "Stole my heart!"

Who wrote these reviews? Look closer, and you'll see that among the well-known reviewers giving their thumbs up to this mess are "Amy G" and "Maurissa K" and "Sue T"-- basically the same people who show up at 2 am to tell us that they made BIG MONEY with John Commuta's Turn Debt into Wealth system and just ADORE their new Snuggies.

I've seen positive reviews from REAL PEOPLE for The Phantom Menace, 50 First Dates, and Click. That means that it's pretty damn easy to find SOME reviewer SOMEWHERE to give three stars to anything more entertaining than the Emergency Broadcast System. That the makers of When In Rome had to resort to the kind of fake testimonials usually reserved to buyers of Total Gym and Jack LaLane's Juicers tells you everything you need to know about the film- and it's nothing good. Thanks for the tip, Laurie P of Des Moines!