Wednesday, April 27, 2005

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

Commercials. Ads. "Paying the bills" as some on-air personalities refer to it. The bane of the TV viewer. Sometimes clever. Sometimes annoying. Lately, though - completely baffling. And I mean beyond the usual inane, noisy & incredibly vague commercials (what, exactly, do all of those pills with the fancy names do?).

Exhibit A - the Skittles "Sheep Boy" ad. We start with a longview of a farm & two sheep at a stump eating something. We zoom in to find that the sheep have sheep bodies - & the faces of two teenage looking boys. They're talking about how Skittles has managed to mix two flavors into one candy. Then, a farmer walks past in the background & tells the "sheep" to knock off the talking or something to that effect.


Other than having a sheep/human hybrid, what does any of that have to do with the candy? If this is Skittles way of showing that they've managed to blend "two great tastes that taste great together," then I hate to tell you this, Skittles ad reps, but a) it's already been done (Reeses, anyone?) & b) if sheep & teenage boys are someone's idea of "two great tastes etc.," then someone on Fifth Avenue has some seriously weird fetishes that I just don't want to go into here. Ick...

Exhibit B was one that I saw twice last night. And both times I just shook my head, trying to get my mind to wrap around what I'd just witnessed. It starts with two teenage boys (I sense a trend. I'm beginning to wonder if these were all produced by Michael Jackson - BA DUM BUMP - Thank you! I'll be here all week! Be sure to tip your waiters!), one of them armed with a wrist rocket (aka, a slingshot). The other one tells him to shoot it right into his mouth. Slingshot Boy fires & nails the other kid right square on the cheek, sending him flying backwards. Out of nowhere, a man in a suit runs up, pulls the projectile off the kids face, notes that it's a Starburst candy, pops it into his mouth & runs off.

It's at this point that I heard a sound in my head reminiscent of a balloon deflating as my brain suffered a blowout.

The real kicker to the whole thing? The kids stand there, looking befuddled. A state of confusion that I shared with them, albeit for a completely different reason. Who's thinking these things up? At what point in the ad meeting did this sound like a good idea? Is it their intent to confuse the crap out of me? I guess if they're trying to get me to remember the product, it's working. If they're trying to get me to buy the product, though, no dice. I don't even like Starburst all that much.

Exhibit C - The aforementioned ads for various pills with catchy little names whose spots tell you nothing about what the medication does. Oh, there are a few that tell you, before launching into a list of possible side effects that makes War & Peace look like a Reader's Digest (one favorite that I recently saw was for adult ADD. One of the possible adverse effects among the hundreds of possible bad things that taking the pill could cause was constipation. Yes, Loyal Readers, nothing will make you focus & pay attention more than being backed up). Frequently, the side effects are worse than the original problem (does may cause death sound like a good thing to you?). Of course, these could only pose a problem if you knew what the medication was for & took it, since, like I said before, most of the time the illness being treated remains a mystery.

Exhibit D - These are, by far, two of the most disturbing commercials that I've seen in a long time. Given the events recently with children being abducted & assaulted & the Jackson trial going on, these ads seem to me to be...well...icky. They're for Nike & they each feature a young boy, one black, one white, dancing, without a shirt (Didja hear? Michael Jackson was seen at K-Mart. He heard boys clothes were half off! BA DUM BUMP Thank you! Thank you! I've got a million of 'em, folks!). You can't even tell if they're wearing shoes, Nike or otherwise. These ads make me feel like I need a shower after watching them, just to get that squicky feeling washed off. I realize that men can go shirtless without causing a ruckus (why women can't, I don't know - kind of unfair, if you ask me) & that's not a problem. After all, they're adults. These are kids. The ads just seem to be in extremely poor taste, given the recent happenings in Florida & other places. Remember back in the 80's when a teenaged Brooke Shields announced that nothing came between her & her Calvin Kleins & the mass hysteria that ensued? She was at least dressed. The inference that Ms. Shields was possibly going commando was just that - inferred. If you thought that's what she was getting at, well, that was between you & your imagination. With the current ads, though, there's not much left to the imagination. And, strangely enough, I don't hear anyone getting up in arms about it.

It's just not good. And for once, I don't think it's just me being cranky about something.


I've tried to think of some examples of good commercials, but alas, have come up dry. I guess there aren't really any good commercials out there. Except, I suppose, the one on the channel I just left.