Monday, October 19, 2015

Are you ready for some idiotic commercials?

The only time I watch commercials is when I’m watching a live sporting event and am forced to.

So that means Sunday afternoons as I watch NFL football. The commercials, I've discovered, all fall into three or four categories.

The new car commercial. Always a city at night, gleaming skyline, and for some reason the streets and highways are completely deserted except for this one shimmering car. It roars over bridges, barrels through tunnels, and speeds through downtown. Forget a policeman or stoplight, there’s never another car.  Or pedestrian.

The driver is often in a tuxedo. So he’s going to a black tie event the night after the city has been evacuated. He never wonders why a heavy populated urban center is deserted. If I could hop in a new car and be assured police would put up barricades and detain 2,000,000 people allowing me to go from Santa Monica to the Staples Center without stopping once at 7:00 on a Friday night, I would buy that car. Assuming of course that it was always washed and waxed. If I can’t see the lights of the city reflecting off my hood in cool geometric patterns the deal is off.

The subliminal selling point of cars used to be that you’d get women and get laid. Now it’s that you can make a left hand turn at any intersection.

There are still the truck commercials. They haven’t changed. They’re tough. They’re rugged. You can haul redwoods. You can drive through mud.  When am I ever going to haul trees?  I live in a deserted city. 

Crappy franchise junk food is another popular category. Every combination of meat, cheese, bacon, and sauces on every combination of bread, roll, tortilla, or wrap. Burger King is boasting a black bun for Halloween. Um, doesn’t that suggest burnt?

These commercials generally feature some super hot babe eating one of these monster sloppy drippy bacon laced heart attacks, which to me is even less plausible than driving through a deserted Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Taco Bell is selling healthy alternatives like salads with the slogan “Un-Freshing-Believable.” Uh, “un-fresh?” Doesn’t that sound like the food is anything BUT fresh?  Don Draper let that go through?  It actually makes no difference because the minute they show lettuce on a Taco Bell commercial they’ve lost their audience. Ironically, you never see a Kardashian eating a salad, just a triple-deck Tabasco pulled pork sandwich with pineapple slices and cinnamon-swirl cheddar french toast .

Beer commercials are plentiful and they too have not changed their approach. All are geared to stupid frat boy/man children who love their teams more than their girlfriends, which is easy because none of them have girlfriends.

And for every other commercial, no matter what the product, whether it’s food or life insurance – there’s an NFL player in it. Usually in uniform (because as we all know, football players never go anywhere without their shoulder pads). These commercials are all designed to be humorous. I could throw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl before one of these guys could deliver a joke. It’s just one clam after another. LeBron James in TRAINWRECK is the Charlie Chaplin of pro athletes.

It’s a great temptation to just DVR the games, but I like the feel of watching a sporting event in real time. I like having the ticker to follow the scores of the other games. And if Ian Eagle is calling the game I don’t want to miss any of his deliciously wicked throwaway lines. But we’re not halfway through the season and already I’m tearing my hair out. I just want to get in my car, floor it, and drive. Unfortunately, there’s stop-and-go traffic on Wilshire at 4:30 on a Sunday.  I hate you, Madison Avenue! 

35 comments:

Curt Alliaume said...

There are a few that amuse me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNfaTxFEytg

willieb said...

And the great thing about Burger King's black Halloween bun is that it stays with you long after you finish the meal...and gives you a spooky treat at the end. Literally.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-whopper-green-poop_56137ad4e4b0baa355ad21db

Never saw THIS in any of their ads....although it may just cause the beer drinking/Taco Bell eating/frat crowd to go out of their way to get one.

Stoney said...

Bill Maher touched on the sex-selling of fast food on last week's "Real Time" and gave it a wicked punch line: "Yeah, right. Like models eat!"

There's supposed to be a new "Star Wars" trailer premiering during tonight's game on ESPN.

Stoney said...

You mention NFL players attempting to be funny in ads. Ever watch NASCAR? Stick to driving guys (and Danica)!

Jamie said...

Don't forget the commercials for "erectile dysfunction" products. It does follow that since we're all eating the greasy, fattening foods they advertise and are always driving around in luxury cars and huge pickup trucks that we'd be too fat and out-of-shape and our arteries too clogged for us to be able to get an erection without assistance of a pill.

Howard Hoffman said...

I keep hoping the next Matthew McConaughey spot has the guys who he beat with that straight flush following him home in THEIR Lincoln SUVs, then beating the snot out of him.

benson said...

"Use promo code 'Beaver Cleaver 1, that's Beaver Cleaver 1"

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,

The Matthew McConaughey commercials kill me. Just kill me. I'm literally dying with laughter during & after every one.
"Alright, alright, alright."

The other commercials that crack me up are the celebrity chefs that cook at any of these fast food places. Taco Bell used to have one where the celebrity guest chef was cooking. As a friend of mine told me after seeing it: " Like any Taco Bell has a kitchen with huge windows that fill the room with natural light."
--LL

Philip said...

Terry Tate Office Linebacker was brilliant!

CamrioKid said...

It's Del Taco that has the "unfreshing believable" campaign, not Taco Bell. And the "un - fresh - ing" slogan is a twist on "unfuc*ing believable" phrase that tweens and twenties use today. Must not be for our demographic - as the name of the company didn't stick with you, Ken. Ha.

Matt said...

Damn Phillip, you stole my line. That was a great commercial, however I have no idea what it was for. So maybe it wasn't a great commercial.

Honestly, my favorite commercial of all time was on a Superbowl and was about Cat Wrangling. It showed a bunch of withered ranch hands describing the trials of herding cats. It was hilarious. Great commercial except I have no idea what it was for.

At least the car commercials are clear.

Dana King said...

The Beloved Spouse and I have it both ways. We start sports events about 45 minutes late, then skip the commercials and halftime or intermissions. we've about caught up by the end of the game.

Bill Avena said...

Food in slow motion, breaded shrimp revolving as glistening gobbets of goo spatter off twinkling...yeah food commercials. Everything else in slow motion.

VP81955 said...

Carl's Jr./Hardee's is the worst "hot babe" fast-food culprit, going back to their Paris Hilton spots. And kudos to NFL-related ads that don't feature quarterbacks. It's not a one-player game.

Orwell said...

Worst culprit? Dunno, that new Carls Jr./Hardees commercial on the Mexican border is entertaining as can be. I've seen the long and short versions of the commercial, and I prefer the longer one. Heck, I'd like to see a 10-minute version.

As for football players on TV, while I mostly agree with Ken, you have to admit that Peyton Manning is a natural in front of the camera - very charismatic and humorous. He's one of the few who can pull off a joke.

MikeN said...

SNL skit with Steve Martin and an ad pitch for Nuterrific candy bars
"... It tastes Nut Very Good."

Mike said...

You were watching the game yesterday when you were supposed to be giving the seminar? Students, grab those refunds!

"Yes, I always like to wear a suit & drive an expensive car when I'm called out to defuse a nuclear warhead in a city centre. It exudes a cool air of highly-paid professionalism which calms the client. Of course, if the client has an unpaid account, I'll stall for thirty minutes, look confused and push & prod the wires around until the count's down to single digits."

YEKIMI said...

@ Matt: I think that cat wrangling commercial was for Budweiser or some other beer. But it might have been for kitty litter, it was so long ago I've also forgotten.

Luigi von Merks III said...

The cat herding commercial is for EDS (a now defunct consulting co. founded by Ross Perot.)

It's freshing brilliant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk7yqlTMvp8

Donald Benson said...

Maybe I'm thinking more of magazine ads, but the automotive fantasy I grew up with was set against beautiful European countrysides and mountains without any sign of the 20th century except the car itself. Always ended with the car parking in directly in front of a perfect old inn or pub, still without another motor vehicle in sight.

Ken Levine said...

I wrote this column last week but only posted it today. No, I saw no football this weekend. Was busy with THE SITCOM ROOM. Who won? :)

Anonymous said...

Re watching sports, any sport, thank heaven for DVR! Only exception, baseball on Fox. Unwatchable and un DRVable......

notworthreading said...

You forgotten the ridiculous amount of daily fantasy football ads. I think by sheer numbers they outweigh all other commercials combined.

Joe Blow said...

The funniest commercial ever, for a company that made taco shells: A Mexican gaucho with ammunition belts crisscrossed on his chest and a sombrero atop his head, bites into a taco and it crumbles down his chest. He says (in a sad, whiny voice), "Now look, it's all over my bullets and everything." Absolutely no one ever saw this but me. It must have been jerked off the air after one day for political correctness reasons.

Jason Roberts said...

Another follow up article on the actors equity situation.

http://deadline.com/2015/10/actors-equity-lawsuit-responds-bargaining-power-1201587983/

Max Clarke said...

Ken,

You would make a splendid professional movie reviewer.

Ever since Roger Ebert, I've wanted somebody I could trust as much as Roger.

You have a lot of goodwill with your reading public. Maybe they'd like you to write about movies...if you could stand watching bad ones mostly.

Mike said...

@Ken Levine: Who won the 'SitCom Room'? Don't ask me. You'd know if you'd been there instead of at home, watching the game.

MikeK.Pa. said...

" I saw no football this weekend. Was busy with THE SITCOM ROOM. Who won? :)"

The Packers and Pats, who else? It would be a great Super Bowl to see Brady vs. Rodgers.

VP81955 said...

Only exception, baseball on Fox. Unwatchable and un DRVable......

The Yankees and Red Sox, nor the entire NFC East, wasn't playing, so Joe Buck was confused.

VP81955 said...

No, no, no, MikeK -- dream Super Bowl: Falcons or Panthers vs. Bengals. Neither team has won a Super Bowl, and they are more than QBs. (I prefer team football.)

Breadbaker said...

Both LA teams didn't win.

Barry Traylor said...

Perhaps it is my age, but it seems there are an awful lot of Pharmaceutical drug commercials for medical issues or diseases that I did not know even existed. Most have side effects that seem even worse than the problem.

thirteen said...

They seem to use Figueroa Blvd. a lot. I kept seeing the same buildings in different commercials -- Look! There's the Independence Day Building! And there's the Daily Planet way back there! -- so I Google Earthed it. I was in Los Angeles once, for a day or two, forty years ago. My mental picture of Los Angeles is those aerial shots they always opened Dragnet with.

Diana said...

I don't watch sports but if I did, I'd wish they were on Hulu. Two commercials max and you're on to the next fumble.

Mike said...

By the way, that's an evacuated city centre. Because of the bomb. As you would.