Friday, April 15, 2011

What the hell was that?

I've noticed a disturbing trend in commercials recently: the previously accepted dimensions of rank stupidity and pointlessness are being shattered, replaced by a Brave New World in which no idea is too idiotic, too brain-dead, too "this makes absolutely, positively no sense to risk having our product laughed off the market through association." Welcome to Anything Goes Marketing.

I mean, can we all agree that not all that long ago, rapping hamsters comparing the Ugliest Automobile Ever Invented to a giant toaster would have been confined to a bad LSD trip? But in the year 2011, the path to man-sized rodents chanting the praises of this rolling eyesore has been well-paved by ads portraying stock-savvy babies, talking Volkswagens and pretty much every level of stupid you can imagine in the service of cell phones.

The really bad news (besides the very existence of this commercial) is that ad men all over the country are sitting up and taking notice that the goalpost has been moved yet again. "Red One" followed by a groin punch is checked by talking babies. You give us talking babies? Here's hamsters rapping about South Korean Imports. It's your move, market geniuses. Show us what else you've got.*

The other really bad news is as the commercials get more and more blatantly insipid, they become harder and harder to snark on. For example, you'd THINK that rapping hamsters would be easy to put down. In fact, commercials like this are SO stupid that they are almost snarkproof- like trying to review sour milk or the latest "Saw" movie. Sometimes, all you can do is just sit in awe of the brilliant awfulness of that mess which just marched across your screen.

*Or don't. Because as much as I do enjoy writing this blog, I'd be more than happy to retire it for lack of material.


  1. Watching with sound off (thankfully), I have the feeling that so much of our downfall is the over-use of technology as it rolls out. We can animate hamsters and make them into opinionated hipster urbanites, therefore we must. We're using the technique to sell Kia, which looks like a Dell computer on tires. The technique is admirable, but to no end and to the celebration of a culture which hates even itself.

  2. "Dell computer on tires." I wish I had thought of that!

  3. At least you didn't have to contend with the ads we had to up North for this boxy-looking and inappropriately named import. What we had to look at was a bunch of disturbed looking people gawking at the car and a caption "What's in your Soul?"

  4. It kind of wrote itself. This whole thing started, ironically, with the new Beetle, which was being sold with a free iPod. Imagine buying a $16,000 car just to get an iPod. It worked, apparently. The pod, the Beetle, looked related. Imagine having been told - buy this '52 Chrysler Imperial and get a Presto Percolator. In 1952, people knew the difference between the gadget and the automobile.

  5. Actually, you are incorrect. The ugliest automobile ever invented is th Scion XB (for "extra boxy").

  6. You may be right. I really can't imagine the conference in which that thing was approved. What on Earth were they thinking?