Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Xfinity: It'll Destroy Your Life!

It's hard to sell a product that's like a ton of other products. Xfinity's on demand video service is more or less the same as Netflix or Hulu Plus or torrenting and streaming movies and shows through the internet. When your product isn't unique and doesn't have as much brand recognition as the competition you can't rely on touting your actual service. So, your commercials need to advertise a lifestyle.

Here's where the Comcast people fuck up: there's nothing sexy or cool about watching television. It would seem like this is a no-brainer, but advertisers have tried to do the same things with stuff like soda. Both TV and soda are extremely common and neither are glamorous or associated with attractive or interesting behaviors or aspects. But, commercials have linked soda with seminal rappers, attractive women and ancient bloodsport, and the double whammy of world peace and acapella singing.  The difference comes from that fact that you can take a soda anywhere and drink it while you're doing almost anything, so you can market it using visually interesting commercials. TV is stationary and if it's on you're either watching it or you're barely paying attention to it. You can't have a commercial where a bunch of people sit around talking while a TV sits by largely neglected ("TV! It'll be there after everyone's abandoned you!") So, when you try to make it seem like television is a totally radical thing to do with your best buds it comes off like a satirical piece about how TV consumes people and makes them into idiots.

Even though the lyrics are obviously tongue-in-cheek, they still come off as a little nightmarish...

It's fun to pick a show you like
And watch it every single night
Until your family has to stage an intervention

You know how people will say something is "like crack" to describe how they can't get enough of that thing? Have you ever noticed that advertisers don't ever use that phrase? That's because comparing your product to an addictive, life destroying drug is not a good way to sell anything (except crack). It's kind of the same with interventions. You don't want to imply that Xfinity will slowly erode a person's life until their loved ones have to do something about it. Coupling the line "until your family has to stage an intervention" with a shot of this couple's daughter wresting the remote control away from her parents doesn't help anything. Of course, since these things are hereditary, this young girl is soon caught up in the same bad business as her parents. It's an ugly cycle.

The commercial also shows Xfinity more or less turning people into shadows of their former self. Xfinity takes them over, claims them until they are defined by their addiction. This is like an anti-drug ad, except where a PSA would argue that becoming a lifeless melting blob is a bad thing Xfinity sees it as an upside. Maybe they're hoping that TV reflecting silhouettes will be too stupid to notice that "like" and "night" don't even rhyme.

It's fun to look and see what's new,
While you're hangin' with your crew
Because it's fun to see what catches your attention

Now, of course you can watch television WITH people. It's fun to get together with people who like the same shows you do and talk about what you watched or have people to laugh along with. So, it's weird that when the song mentions "hangin' with your crew" we're shown this:
This man's crew is his god damn dog. Way to show the most depressing interpretation of hanging out. The only way this could be sadder is if he were sitting in a room with a bunch of mannequins. This poor bastard can't even claim that he only uses Xfinity socially and, like The Hold Steady taught us, "They say you don't have a problem until you start to do it alone." This man can't even hope for an intervention. Dogs don't have the mental or emotional capacity to plan such a thing. It's obvious they once had a close bond, since they both have exactly the same expression on their faces, but while this schmuck made a choice to use Xfinity, his dog's is an innocent victim caught in the cross-fire. Now that its owner is caught up in the world of on-demand television you know that dog's not going to get fed.

Woof, woof, you've murdered me Xfinity.

On the surface, this is a commercial that seems like a success. They created a dynamic ad with a catchy song and cool visual effects. But they got too carried away with the idea of Xfinity being like a drug that they've made it into the Trainspotting of on-demand video commercials. I love TV. I think the quality of the good shows outweighs the quantity of the bad. So, it's amazing that a commercial that has the purpose of trying to get me to watch more TV has made me think solely about all its negative aspects.

Way to go, Comcast. You've made a very effective PSA.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Vagisil: The Worst Places For Your Vagina to Itch (Aside From Your Vagina)

Let's be adults about this: sometimes our genitals itch. Now if you're a man, you can just use your fingers to scratch and everything's fine. You can do it discreetly through your pockets or use one ball to scratch another. Ladies are different. They need, I don't know...pineapples or a rough mitten to deal with such things. Since it's hard to subtly scratch your bathing suit area with the bottom of an egg carton, Science has invented various creams to solve the problem. Again, that's okay, it's life.

What I have a PROBLEM with is that this commercial tries to tell us that the worst time for your magic genital potion to fail is right before your wedding. Not even DURING the wedding, but before when you can reapply your creams. There are a ton of worse places for your vagina itch solution to fail:
  • While holding two babies
  • While performing surgery
  • In outer space
  • While finger painting
  • Juggling anything sharp or on fire
  • Boxing match (foxy or standard)
  • When you're disarming a bomb
  • While you barely holding onto the edge of a cliff
  • Folding a flag while the president is watching
  • If you're handcuffed to a prison inmate
  • When your hands are turning into claws because you're a werewolf
  • During a ventriloquist competition that is important not only to you, but to your recently deceased grandfather whose dream it was to win this particular competition
  • When you've finally made a breakthrough with the unruly deaf, blind and mute girl you've been hired to teach sign language
  • During a divorce hearing where your partner has claimed that your chronically itchy vagina has run the marriage into a shambles
  • Yo-yo trick demonstration that will make or break your career as a professional yo-yo trick demonstrator
  • While drunk driving
  • On your death bed
  • In the final round of the Miss Least Itchy Vagina pageant
And while Vagisil is clearly wrong about the worst time for feminine hygeine products to fail, I think they are right about one thing. Now, I'm not a woman, I don't have a vagina, but I am convinced that having an itchy one must totally make you feel like a homeless person:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Volvo S60: It's Not From Certain Places

Look, Volvo understands one thing: you're sick of cars that smell like sauerkraut and Godzilla. I mean, seriously, every time you buy a car from Germany, someone at the factory has tried to shove a Scorpions cassette into the CD player and there's a Black Forest ham chilling in a baby's car seat in the back. I don't want that in a car and unless that tape has "Winds of Change" on it, I don't even want it in my house. Cars from Japan? Don't even get me started.

Did someone tell you that this car was from Germany or Japan? Who was it? Hans? Toshiro? You know, I'm sick of these people who go around saying cars are from Germany or Japan, when they clearly aren't. Who the hell even brought it up? This car isn't from Germany or Japan...it's not even an issue, really...let's just drop it.


I just want to make sure that it's clear that this car isn't from the following places:
1. Germany
2. Japan

It's not from either of those. Why would you want a car from those countries? Yeah, sure, they're automobile producing powerhouses. But don't you want to keep your money closer to home? When you buy a car from a foreign country (let's say, for example, just two countries off the top of my head...Germany or...Japan) it's like having a house or apartment and then going to a hotel to sleep. Support your country and buy this car from...

Oh, Scandinavia. That's, like, three countries. None of which are America. At least, I don't think so, I don't have an atlas handy.

Right, uh...

Did we mention it's not from Germany or Japan?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Samsung Smart TV: Meet the Douchebags!

Commercials love to try to tell stories. The problem is that they're bad at it. Now, the short length of advertisements means that you can't really develop characters or situations, so you end up with a mess.

Let's look at this ad. It starts simply, there's this couple and they're having Problems, see that distance on the couch? That's not just a physical distance, folks. He grabs the remote and we start seeing the magic of Samsung Smart TV. You can use it to call up relevant movies (well movie titles, in the case of Despicable Me, unless this couple is having issues involving super-villainy or adoption) as a replacement for communication! It can also be used to play music and we begin to learn how serious this problem is. When the music of Chicago can't fix a problem you know it's bad and I, personally, begin to question the entire concept of love itself.

So far, this commercial is doing a decent job of showing us what the product does and its biggest crime is just being bland. Then, in the last 12 seconds everything goes off the fucking rails. She gets on Facebook and announces she's single. He counters by calling up their wedding video and everything is peachy. Samsung Smart TV has saved the day.

Wait...they're married? So, this man has done something awful, something so unforgivable she's willing to announce to the world that this union is ending. My guess is adultery, that seems the most likely trangsression. I mean, from there the possible problems get stranger: gambling addiction, bigamy, murder, drug manufacturing, bizarre sexual appetites, super villainy (oh my god, the pieces are coming together, it's like LOST...which you can watch on a television!). There is no way to know what he's done, but it can't be something minor. If it is, then this marriage must be a hellscape of crazy. Let's imagine another commercial featuring this couple:

The Douchebags vs. Eggs vs. Samsung Smart TV

(enters house with grocery bags)
Oh, darn.

What's the matter?

I forgot to get eggs
This marriage IS OVER!
(rushes into the living room, calls up a picture of an egg on their Samsung Smart TV)
Honey, come in here.

(enters living room)


What's equally disconcerting is that this TV hasn't solved whatever the problem is, it merely distracts from it. Whatever grievous sin this man has committed is still there, he's still a bad person and she's still trapped in this marriage.

Maybe whatever happened wasn't so bad. She's just being moody and as a joke tells her friends and family that a separation is imminent. What a dumb joke. Not only is it annoying behavior, but now both of them are  going to get asked a ton of questions along the lines of, "What's going on" and "Seriously, is everything okay?" How about growing the fuck up, lady?

No matter what the situation is, this commercial paints a picture of two extremely unlikable people. Commercials are meant to put the viewer in the place of the characters. Now, I am an extremely unlikable person, but I don't want to be reminded of it. Furthermore, this TV isn't doing anything  that can't be done by, say, a computer or a current generation game console. Except saving marriages, though the way it saves them can just as easily be gained through bottling up emotions and unbottling vast quantities of alcohol.

That couch does look nice though. It must be comfortable if both of them are sitting there despite being angry at one another. Maybe Samsung should start selling couches.

Samsung Couch Couch: It's for Asses!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Need To Stop Yelling At The Television

If anyone besides me should read this blog I'd like to explain a few things. The first is that most commercials make me very angry. I think about the guys in fancy suits who get paid really well to come up with these concepts and then manage to fail on every level. They don't make the product seem appealing, the commercial doesn't make sense and I usually don't get told anything about the product. These are all things people have pointed out before, I'm not claiming to be blazing new trails. I'm mostly writing this so I stop yelling at my TV whenever a really bad commercial comes on.

Also, I understand that advertisements have a lot of exaggeration and "humor" and that they aren't meant to be taken literally. I don't care. If you don't want someone taking your silly idea to its horrible extreme then maybe think about the concept for more than two seconds. I should probably also mention that I have no degree or any formal training in the fields of advertising or public relations. So, I'm kind of talking out of my ass here.

Lastly, despite the name of the blog, some commercials I talk about will be for stuff I have bought and enjoyed.