an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Posts Tagged ‘commercial’

Southlake, TX: Dachshund Racing and Barnes and Noble

Posted by Rosepixie on June 24, 2010

Today I have a commercial advertising the attractions of the city of Southlake, TX that I believe was made for the city’s marketing website.

Do you know what I took away from this video?  That this city is weird and that they didn’t have enough footage.  I swear that same shot of the little kid marveling at the fountain was in there multiple times.  And it’s not even that great a shot (he’s cute, but what does it tell me about Southlake, really?).

I do have to admit, there’s a part of me that really wants to know why there are dachshund races being held.  I mean, if you’ve ever met a real, live dachshund you know that their legs are very short (like, less than six inches high for a dog that’s typically about a foot and a half long not counting the tail).  That’s not really a dog built for racing.  They’re cute, but not speedsters.  And why do they each need their own fenced in lane?  Where there fights breaking out between the racers?  That doesn’t really seem dachshund like either.  Most of the ones I know will stand back and bark at you forever if they feel threatened, but if you get to close, they just back away and keep barking – actual contact is pretty much avoided.

Besides the strange dog races, I’m not quite sure what’s in Southlake that’s worth going there for.  There are apparently hotels, which I guess is good, since I’d need some place to sleep, but they didn’t show any especially remarkable hotels.  Beyond that, they showed a lot of retail stores that are basically everywhere else too.  I mean, yeah, that was a nice looking Barnes and Noble, but there’s one of those in pretty much every decent sized town or city at this point and they’re all pretty much the same.  That’s how chains work.  Yeah, the employees can make a big difference in how a particular store is stocked or set up, but fundamentally the same displays appear in every store and the same large quantities of boring bestsellers appear in every store.  So how is that a tourist draw?

Basically, I’m not sure how this video was really supposed to entice me to visit this place.  Maybe find out when those races take place and stop by if I’m already in the area, but that’s about it.  If they have better enticements for tourists, they need to show them, because chain stores, boring hotels and unspecified events isn’t really that exciting.


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Friskies: Giving Cats Hallucinations

Posted by Rosepixie on June 20, 2010

This is a current commercial for Friskies cat food.  My husband and I saw it while watching a television show on Hulu and were both so baffled by it that we had to pause the show and go find the ad on YouTube and watch it again to see if we’d imagined how bizarre it was.  We hadn’t.

Now that I’ve seen this ad a few times, I realize that it’s actually even stranger than I realized on that first viewing.  I have no idea what the people at Friskies were thinking when they made this ad because this seriously seems to tell viewers that Friskies pet food is laced with LSD or some similar hallucinatory drug.  If I had a cat who ate Friskies, I’d switch brands immediately.

The thing is, I’m pretty sure Friskies isn’t laced with LSD (or even with Cat Nip).  It may not be the very best cat food out there, but I don’t think it’s the equivalent of feeding your cat street drugs either.

Still, the commercial shows one seriously messed up cat trip.  It may look all cute, but think about this for a minute.  What’s wrong with that cat?  It’s in a happy fun world filled with it’s favorite food that are all just begging to be stalked and killed – frolicking cat-sized turkeys, ambling cat-size veal on four legs, dancing fish and chickens practically laying themselves out at the cat’s feet.  But what does the cat do?  I would have expected it to chase and probably eat the animals (they’re food, right?).  That’s not what it does.  It lazily strolls among them, almost like they’re it’s friends.  It’s eerie.  Cats don’t do that with prey.  That’s not a cat who realizes it’s in kitty paradise – it’s a cat who’s so strung out that it no longer realizes there are tasty meals dancing around it just begging to be pounced on.  That is not a healthy cat.

Friskies may have been trying to show a happy, wonderful human version of a happy cat, but anyone who actually has a cat will tell you that a real cat wouldn’t be happy like that.  A real cat would go crazy in such a fantasy world where they couldn’t chase the prey that’s everywhere.  And that’s why I have to stick with my original thought that I’d switch brands to something other than Friskies after seeing this, because Friskies clearly doesn’t know cats.

Besides, on the off chance the food is laced with LSD, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

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Vintage Friday: Oil of Olay

Posted by Rosepixie on June 18, 2010

This is an ad from 1979 for Oil of Olay facial cream.

Well, at least we know from this commercial that looking young and products that make impossible and fuzzy promises about helping you do so has been around for at least the past several decades.  Which makes me sad.

When the guy shows up in this ad it suddenly reminded me very much of watching a cheesy soap opera.  I’m not sure if it was because of the corny line, the over-the-top poses or the dripping-with-fake-emotion voice.  Still, the comparison made me laugh.

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L’Oreal Colour Riche Anti-Aging Lipstick: My Face Looks Younger!

Posted by Rosepixie on June 16, 2010

This is a commercial for L’Oreal’s Colour Riche Anti-Aging Lipstick.

She really does claim that her whole face looks younger because of a lipstick.  Seriously?  Is this magic lipstick?  Because I’m pretty sure your face looks flawless because you’re a supermodel and have an army of make-up artists and digital touch-up techs to make it look however you or L’Oreal want it to look.

And the explanation for how the lipstick works is pretty weak.  It’s got some special stuff in the middle that’s supposed to plump and firm lips and is lusciously surrounded by color so bright you can’t tell how plump or firm the lips wearing the color really is in the first place.  How that amounts to making your whole face look younger, I’m not sure.

Basically, this whole ad felt like a lot of smoke and mirrors and empty promises for women who have been taught that looking a day over eighteen is tantamount to being dead.  I’m not impressed and found it annoying enough that it might come to mind next time I’m shopping and make me stay away from anything with L’Oreal on it.

Posted in Beauty | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Microsoft Kin: Justifying Online Stalking

Posted by Rosepixie on June 12, 2010

This is an ad for the Microsoft Kin, a smartphone aimed at young customers.

This ad really bothers me.  While the social experiment element of the whole thing is an interesting idea in theory, the reality of sending a young woman out to actually meet people she knows very little about for certain (if anything) is a very dangerous prospect.  And why they chose this particular meeting to showcase their experiment is just beyond me.

Here’s the thing – Rosa explains pretty well why Matty’s behavior towards her online is problematic without getting into the dangerous and triggery possibilities of it.  She says that it’s creepy and sounds as if she sort of regrets having accepted his friend request.  Matty clearly doesn’t have any idea why his behavior is problematic, or even that it is.  He seems to think it’s a great thing because it means it easier for him to “pick up girls” without any risk to him – he can sit at home “half naked” and he believes that he has the “magical words” to start a conversation and get to know someone in a way that he couldn’t do in person.  But is it a “nice” conversation if it’s begun by objectifying the girl (and clearly creeping her out) and has pretty much exclusively the purpose of “picking up” the girl?  He doesn’t mention getting to know her until he’s talking to her in person, which he clearly never expected to actually happen!

When she walks up to him and confronts him about the behavior, he clearly still doesn’t get it.  He justifies it and says it’s just a way of getting to know someone.  He also accuses her of cutting off the contact without giving him a chance and of inviting it in the first place by accepting the friend request.  He says “how else am I going to meet you?”  And you know what, she seems to accept responsibility for it.  He doesn’t.  At all.

And that’s how rape culture works.  That may sound extreme, but if you go back to early in the ad when she was describing Matty before they met you’ll hear that she said he was the online equivalent of a construction worker hollering at a pretty girl walking by, and that kind of thing is very recognized as part of rape culture.  Check out HollaBack if you don’t know what I’m talking about here.  It’s also very indicative of rape culture in that the person performing the action here (the guy making the overtures) is not determined to be at fault, but rather the girl is determined to be at fault because she somehow “invited it”.  But she didn’t ask him to hit on her this way – he did it under his own power.  He could have approached her in conversation many other ways that would have been not creepy and more likely to invite her to get to know him (and to let him get to know her).  But that doesn’t seem to have even occurred to him.

This is just such a problematic ad.  They could have done so much with this concept that could have been interesting and appealing, but instead they came up with this ad which mostly taught me that people are scary and Microsoft thinks that’s a good thing.  Sorry, but that doesn’t encourage me to buy your products.  I think this is a horribly irresponsible ad and am pretty disgusted that Microsoft came out with it.

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Toyota Prius: Nature People

Posted by Rosepixie on June 10, 2010

This is a recent ad for the Toyota Prius.

So this is one of those commercials that I had to watch a couple of times before I really had any idea what to say about it.  I’m beginning to feel like car ads are more about the gimmick in the ad than about the car itself.  Maybe it’s a bet between car ad designers or something – whoever can get away with the most random thing in their commercial wins!  I don’t think this is winning (I’m guessing the current front runner is either one of Kia’s ads or something from Asia), but it’s certainly weird.

The problem here is that this ad is so busy distracting viewers with the weird people-as-nature thing (which, by the way, strips actual nature out of the picture entirely) that it doesn’t really tell us anything about the car.  We get some vague statements said by a voice that is typically the kind giving us information, so I think they’re hoping we’ll think it’s information, but “more power and less smog” is not actually informative.  It’s fuzzy and unspecific.

And the people, randomly popping up like the munchkins from the beginning of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, give more of an impression that the car is creating nature than that it’s helping to preserve it.  That is definitely a confusion of message as well.

This is just such an odd ad.  It feels like it should be selling something far less serious than a car.  I’m not sure what it would be selling, actually.  Flower costumes, maybe?

Posted in Cars | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

New Mexico: Where’s the Video?

Posted by Rosepixie on June 6, 2010

This is a travel commercial for New Mexico focusing on the construction of “Spaceport America”, the first commercial spaceport.

I really have to wonder about this commercial.  It’s an official commercial, but it really doesn’t feel that way.  It feels… well… frankly, fake.  Where’s the video footage?  This is a video commercial, guys!  You can give us more than just still photographs of the space port being built!  Still photographs are kind of boring in this context and when paired with the extremely excited announcer, seem really odd.  His enthusiasm would feel far less silly if there was moving footage of an actual spaceport being built going on behind him (this would also make his hard hat seem less pointless).

The thing is, a spaceport that you can actually visit and tour is a pretty cool tourist attraction.  Since such things have typically been exclusively the property of governments and mostly housing secure or sensitive projects, they aren’t usually places you can really tour in any meaningful way.  So a commercial spaceport that is not so tightly locked down at every turn and where consumers can actually see what’s going on in more areas is a pretty cool thing.  Space and space travel are things we still find fascinating, so it’s absolutely worth using as a tourist draw if you can.

This commercial is just so very weak.  It wouldn’t take that much effort to make a more dynamic and interesting video that could actually get people excited.  I guess I just can’t understand why a video that’s actually boring and kind of makes the announcer look ridiculous was even released when they could have spent just a little more time and made a much better one that either didn’t have those problems or minimized them considerably.  This isn’t a video that’s going to help with tourism much, but a good commercial about how exciting it is that there’s a spaceport that you can visit and eventually even use yourself definitely might!

Posted in Travel | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Vintage Friday: Libbyland Dinners

Posted by Rosepixie on June 4, 2010

These are two commercials from the 1970s for Libbyland dinners (TV dinners for kids).

I think it’s cute that they sort of tell a very short story in each commercial featuring recurring characters.  I also like how they mix genres with the pirate ship, the cowboy, and the Snidely Whiplash look-alike villain.

What made me sort of raise my eyebrows at these commercials was “Libby the Kid (that’s Billy the Kid spelled sideways)”.  This would work if Libby wasn’t actually a real name, but it is.  The only thing I can figure here is that for some reason they didn’t want their hero being female.  Maybe they bought into the entirely stupid notion that male characters appeal to everyone while female characters only appeal to girls, or maybe it was even worse and they just couldn’t conceive of a female hero saving the day.  Regardless, the excuse that “Libby the Kid” is a “Billy the Kid” with his name spelled sideways comes off as pretty flimsy if you ask me.

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Weight Watchers: To Love Yourself

Posted by Rosepixie on June 2, 2010

This is a recent commercial for Weight Watchers featuring Jennifer Hudson (a singer/actress).

I actually really didn’t mind this commercial this much until she said that having lost weight “makes me love myself that much more”.  And that brought me up short.  At first glance, that statement isn’t so bad.  Great, she loves herself more now than she did before.  But if you think about what it’s telling the viewers, and more specifically the target audience of people who might want or need to lose some weight, it’s not such a great statement.  If losing weight is good because it will make you love yourself more, than that means that you aren’t as worthy of your own love until you lose that weight.

And that’s not a good message at all.  Because while I think Weight Watchers does a better job than most of showing healthy body shapes in their ads and not overly encouraging unhealthy body images, they aren’t in a vacuum.  Their sort of unspecific weight loss ads really only work because there’s so much other stuff in our media that tells us what “fat” is and when you need to lose weight (which, sadly, is pretty much all the time if you’re a woman).  And worse, Jennifer Hudson specifically has a lot of teenage fans, so using her as a spokesperson is going to get their attention more than if they had featured someone else.  And teenage girls already have a hard enough time learning that they can love themselves (even beyond concerns about body size or shape or anything).  Is it really a good idea to reinforce to them that they’d be more lovable if they looked different?

While I think that Jennifer Hudson could be a great spokesperson for Weight Watchers, I think that this one line makes this an incredibly irresponsible and potentially dangerous ad.  Even if it’s true for her that she loves herself more, that’s more indicative of the problems we have than something to be celebrated and passed on to other people.  It’s absolutely something worth talking about – but a thirty second ad spot isn’t long enough to do that in, nor is discussing such an issue the focus of an advertisement like this.  I think this is a pretty horrible ad and wish I could expect better from Weight Watchers.

Posted in Beauty | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Old Navy: Be a Mannequin

Posted by Rosepixie on May 29, 2010

Old Navy has been using mannequins as their spokespeople for a while now.  They even created relationships, personalities and backstories for them.  It’s all a bit weird and I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what to say about it on this blog for a while now.  Unfortunately, as bad as I thought the “supermodelquins” were by themselves, they’ve taken the whole thing one step further – now they’re actually asking fans to be mannequins themselves.  They’ve created a reality TV style series of ads portraying a contest with real women trying to be mannequins and fans get to go online and vote for which woman should win.  The ads are pretty brutal.  Here’s just a sampling.

So, to be a “supermodelquin”, you have to not move (even your hair) and have the right poses.  Because those things are really important.  And the prize is being molded into a mannequin.

At first, I thought maybe that wasn’t so bad.  The “supermodelquins” are incredibly unrealistically proportioned for most of the population.  They’re well named – they appear to be proportioned like ideal supermodels.  I kind of wonder how the clothing fits them (I assume that they make special versions to fit the mannequins or use clips to fit them like most stores do).  So molding a mannequin from a real person with regular proportions would be a nice change of pace and introduce some believability to the mix.

But I was wrong.  They aren’t molding the new mannequin to actually be the size and shape of the winner – they’re just using the same proportions as the mannequins they already have and creating a head to look like the winner.  Check out these two images from the official website.  The first is the contestants as real humans (albeit, probably somewhat Photoshopped because marketers can’t seem to resist their editing tools) and the second is a composite shot I made of the mannequin versions they turn into if you hover over them with your mouse.

Quite a difference, isn’t there?  And those are three beautiful women!  They didn’t really need scary long necks or twig-thin legs.  But that’s how the “supermodelquins” look, so I guess that’s what they get.

My problem here is that it really reinforces this weird idea of what Old Navy wants its customers to look like and it’s not a good image.  I don’t really want to shop somewhere that thinks I should be a supermodel.  Nor do I want to be told I should be one.  Mannequins standing in stores are bad enough, do we really need them holding contests to reinforce their standards of beauty too?

Not to mention that they’re just kind of creepy.  Don’t believe me?  Check out one of their ads from before the contest.

Posted in Fashion | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »