Saturday, March 07, 2009

...And Now You Know Why There Are No Ads At The Dept.

It's absolutely no secret that I'm getting old (50 in May!) and that I'm becoming something (more) of a curmudgeon. Every single day I catch myself acting a little bit pricklier, and yesterday, after guilting my son Sam into going grocery shopping with me, I uttered some statement or other in the car and actually said, "Wow. Did that sound elderly or what?", at which time he gave me a very sympathetic look and said, "Yep. You sounded exactly like Grammy."

And then he patted my knee.

Oh well.

So it comes as no surprise to anyone that I complain bitterly and constantly about commercials on television. That they are too loud. And that there are too damn many of them. And that the music in them is terrible. Or that some of them just are stupid and don't make any sense.

But you know it's true. And some of you are not as old as I am.

I thought the whole idea behind commercials was to make me want to buy something. Didn't you study advertising in school at one point? Because I did, and at one point, I even had to teach it. All those terms like bandwagon, testimonial, plain folks. But the whole focus of those propaganda techniques was to make me want to buy something. I can honestly say that the vast, overwhelming majority of ads on television right now do not make me want to buy a damn thing. I mean it.

Today, Rick and I were watching some Morning Show or other to postpone the inevitable Starting Of Our Day, and this commercial came on for a DVD series called The World at War. The spokesperson snarkily intoned, "If you care about the war, you'll want to order this amazing set." That statement provoked the following dialogue:

Me: Wow. That was bossy. And nasty.
Rick: What is he trying to say?
Me: If you have any patriotism in your disgusting, black, tar-covered soul...
Rick: If you give a damn about America and aren't a terrorist bent on destroying it...
Me: If you aren't some liberal commie pinko fag...
Rick: If you aren't running guns for some third world nation...
Me: If you aren't already left soulless by watching nonstop episodes of "Family Guy", "The Simpsons", and pay-per-view porn...
Rick: Then get out your credit card, your NRA card, and your flag and order this set. Hell, order two!

Honestly. By the time we were done eviscerating that ad, I didn't even remember what war it was about. Who did that guy think he was? Or was dealing with? Screw him.

(But this commercial is, for me, a bit of an exception. There's something sexy about this guy's mouth. Am I going to go buy this? No. But I watch the ad.)


  1. The absolute worst is when you're watching a TV show online and they have the same advertisement during each commercial break. Last night my friend and I watched three episodes of South Park online, and we saw the same ad for a stupid movie about eight or nine times. I was ready to punch someone in the face. I sure as hell will never see that movie.

  2. Anonymous6:45 PM

    I wish someone would pay you and me to write visceral responses to commercials like the one you discuss here. We'd be SO AWESOME. Rick could come too.

  3. You think you're old, well, let me tell you .........
    Yeah. Me too.
    The kids who design the ads, and a lot of them are kids, 'cause it's not a mature person's game, IMHO, don't get the older demographics. Past about 45, they're lost. In spite of the whole boomer thing, a lot of ads targeted at 50+ (65+ are ads for assisted living and insurance, mostly) do not get as much thought as they could.
    They lose a lot of customers, for sure.
    I have practically given up watching any TV with ads in it, except the Olympics and even that is a struggle.
    You do write thoughtful, thought provoking posts. Love your stuff.

  4. I've become such a curmudgeon, that I've ditched Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. I spend my time in front of the TV--if I spend any time at all in front of the TV--watching news and Seinfeld re-runs. Am I acting elderly? The best invention for people like us is the DVR...just fast-forward thru those annoying commercials!

    Just checking in...and reminding you about Sx3 today. Can you say Global Warming?

  5. MelissaB--No DVR at the Dept., I'm afraid. But I'm a news AND Seinfeld junkie.

    Mary G--Do NOT get me started on those horrific Viagra ads. Or the ones for that prostate med. LOL. Thanks for the kind words; glad you're here.

    apathy lounge--we are definitely under-utilized in the "real world." LOL.

    mikey--oh, I KNOW! that makes me nuts. why is that allowed to happen? it occurs a lot with car commercials here, it seems, esp.

  6. I work late afternoon into the night and get home about 1:30am, so my husband records shows he thinks I'll like, He usually just turns on the VCR to record one channel all night ---until the tape runs out. I love being able to fast forward through shows I don't want to watch ---and especially the commercials. Now I can't stand to watch anything live. On days I am home, we watch a DVD (from the library or Netflix)---and set the VCR. I watch what I want in the wee hours of the morning. My husband watches what he wants while eating breakfast or lunch. Fast forwarding through the ads, one can watch 3 hours of TV in 2 hours. (FYI: I've got you beat by more than a decade.)

  7. The Man and I bing off each other in rants like that too. It's like you become your own tiny thug gang against the world!

  8. Most of the ads are horrid. We don't even bother talking about them. I usually hit Mute when I have the remote. My husband usually flips the channels. When there are commercials we like that we talk about, we still don't usually remember what the products are. There's so little tie-in to the acual product any more.


  9. Shirley--doubtless you've noticed the awful proclivity of all the channels conspiring against us and showing commercials at the same time! it's terrible.

    J.--and we're far more entertaining and interesting than any of the ads.

    CJ--my buddy roger taped/dvr'ed the Oscars and the Globes. he flaunted that fact in my face. "the only way to watch!" he crowed. "no senseless musical bullshit; no vapid, monotonous kowtowing to agents in boring acceptance speeches; no stupid lifetime achievement award crap. i got the biggies in about 20 minutes of quality tv." sigh.

  10. I'm currently kind of obsessed withe the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish ad with the singing fish. It's so funny and catchy too. I just sing a long and smile.

    But would I actually buy it? No. I'm not a big fast-food person anyway, but if I need to get some then I go to Wendy's. Burger King is a last resort. If I'm literally ready to faint from hunger and all that's around is a McDonald's or I get peer pressured into going, which is extremely unlikely, then I would go. That's about it.

  11. Anali--I think it's entertaining as well. I agree, however, that it does nothing to make me buy the product. That's the issue that Mary touched on. These commmercials appeal to the demographic that merely need to be entertained and the ads don't do anything to inform or educate the serious consumer about the product. I get that some ads need to be catchy and if we really expect fast food to be "serious" then we are being disingenuous. But the vast majority of ads are pap.

  12. PS: Don't forget maƱana's Sx3!


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