Scott G often works in the advertising industry and he’s frequently appalled by what he sees, as when large corporations insult your intelligence with misleading marketing, or when they treat you like absolute morons with super-silly or saccharine-sweet ads.
You are stupid. You’re aware of that, right? I mean, you must know it since you’re reminded every day that corporate America feels you have just nine brain cells left in your cranium. You’re a clown, a dumbbell, a geek, a patsy, a jerk, and a mark.
That’s what the ad industry thinks of you.
Well, they must believe that when you look at some of the foul-smelling tripe they unload on you every day.
Yes, there is some excellent advertising out there. The Lexus ads are superior in every way. The TV spot for that turd of a truck, the Cadillac Escalade, is beautifully done. Dow’s “Human Element” campaign is wonderful. The whole approach from ADM, UBS, and Sprint feel quite good. And Crispin’s VW “crash” spots may have changed auto advertising forever.
But a lot of advertising is way bad these days. Consider these recent examples:
Air You Can See
The American Petrol Institute presents an 18-wheel truck roaring down the highway spewing clean air from its smokestacks. This ridiculous piece of twaddle is lovingly produced and bounces along jauntily to a nifty rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.”
The spot touts ULSD (ultra low sulfur diesel) fuel and the friendly folks at the API would like you to visit a propaganda site called energytomorrow.org. And you probably thought that the “dot org” address was reserved for true nonprofit organizations.
Despite the nice photography and special effects in the spot, the message leaves a bad taste in your mouth as well as blight on your brain. Although, come to think of it, we probably shouldn’t be surprised by such outrageousness as they are part of the industry that says the following, with a straight face:
It may surprise you to find out our industry’s earnings are typically in line with other industries, and are often lower. We’ve prepared this short paper, based on well-documented data, to help you better understand the oil and gas industry’s earnings by putting them into perspective.
They go on to claim they are enjoying earnings of only 9.5%. Right. And Ashlee Simpson sings live. And Britney’s I.Q. is in triple digits. And the CSI shows are based on reality.
Look Who’s Talking
Animals, that’s who. The pitchmen have become pitchmammals and pitchreptiles. Because, you know, it’s just so CUTE when those clever animators show you a talking dog, cat, lizard, bird, horse, bear, snake, rodent, insect or fish.
At this point, everyone with an ounce of sensibility is saying “yes, you’re right, these are dumb commercials.” And you’re hoping I won’t name one where you secretly enjoy the antics of the armadillo or the monologue from the moose, or something. Don’t worry. I’m not even going to dignify this category of offal with product names.
Carl’s Jr. has 9 TV commercials running at the moment, mostly well acted and well photographed, but each with a curious undercurrent of stupidity (yours, if you buy any of their products).
“Cow Shake-Off” has two slack-jawed yokels getting physical with two innocent bovines. Nothing says “creamy delicious milkshake” like massaging a cow’s ass.
“Cabbie” has two lowlifes talking about a monster-sized steak burger and then insulting a woman who walks past. Yes, we all aspire to emulate cretins by purchasing the same food they masticate as they attempt to speak.
“Indecision” has a twit in Canter’s Deli unable to decide which Neanderthal’s eating habits he wants to copy. Perhaps he should meet the guys from “Cabbie” in a sequel.
“Surgeon” has a creepy doctor discussing breast augmentation while leering into the camera. Turns out he’s talking to a chicken. Ah-hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! I mean, ohmigawd is that ever a humorous concept.
“Those Days” has a cool music track while a beautiful girl samples almost everything in her ‘fridge on one of “those days after those days.” Nothing says “come to our restaurant” like a feminine hygiene message.
“Vacuum” attempts to make you salivate over something called “boneless buffalo wings” by showing someone using an industrial-size vacuum on his car. Yum. And what are “boneless buffalo wings” anyway, chicken armpits?
“Soldier” attempts to play on our national desire to support our troops but trips all over itself by making the actor recite lines that are, um, how shall we put this. . . oh, I know: stupid.
“Girlfriend” uses the tired concept of two hot babes vying for the same guy. A guy, mind you, whose idea of a dinner date involves eating at a plastic counter. Okay, perhaps this one isn’t saying we’re all stupid; just women.
“Little Wings” has a guy sitting along at the bar in a dive trying to make a meal of the free wings while nursing one beer. All right! NOW Carl’s has found their audience!
What Does “BP” Stand For?
Up until not long ago, BP was British Petroleum. Then it became BPAmoco, and now it’s BP Plc (in the U.K., that stands for public limited company, or one whose stock shares may be purchased publicly). As part of their “Beyond Petroleum” campaign, BP is unleashing achingly cloying animated commercials showing little kids driving cars into ultra-clean gas stations.
Here on the West Coast, BP owns Arco stations and the Arco AM/PM Mini Markets, so I guess the point of the campaign is that the nice, warm, fuzzy and cuddly BP company is tearing down all those mean, old, ugly and polluting Arco gas stations and is replacing them with that miracle of modern humanity, the BP gas station. Bad Perception. Big Disdain. Being Patronizing.
(Yes, I know this is the second anti-big-oil item in this column, but I prefer to look at it as merely a right cross following a left jab in the battle against corporate greed, malfeasance and lies.)
[tags]bad advertising, advertising industry news, marketing mistakes, lowest common denominator advertising, Gman, Scott G, advertising commentary, animals in advertising[/tags]