Good Commercial/Bad Commercial
Good: Charmin Toilet Paper. The good people at the Charmin company have a problem: how do you sell toilet paper without being crude?
Frankly, it is ridiculous that such a question needs to be asked. In our overly politically correct age, a company can't be honest and release an ad campaign that says "Hey folks, our toilet paper feels good when you use it to stick up your ass. Buy Charmin!" So, they have to be creative.
Their solution, in the proud tradition of the Simpsons' Flopsy Bunny sex ed video, is to cutesy up the subject by involving cartoon animals. The ads feature cartoon bears frolicking in the woods, periodically stopping to relieve themselves on a makeshift woodland toilet next to a tree. The bears plop themselves down, give the toilet roll a spin and then the camera cuts to a close-up of the bear's face as he/she/it closes his/her/its eyes and broadly grins. The genius part of this close-up? THIS IS WHEN THE BEAR IS WIPING ITS ASS. The Charmin people can't show the actual act of ass-wipery, but they can sure as hell show the pleasure associated with it. It's the cartoon bear equivalent of that Viagra ad that shows the middle-aged women dancing around town singing that 'Good Morning' song after being roundly rogered the previous evening.
Bad: Steelback Beer. I'm not sure the ultimate intention of these ads are -- is it to sell beer, or is it to let Steelback CEO Frank D'Angelo fulfill masturbatory fantasies?
Here's the full roster -- http://www.steelbackbrewery.com/tvspots.asp
The common thread you'll find in all of these ads is the fact that they were shot and edited with the aplomb of a bored 16-year-old in an high school AV class. My personal favourites are #7 (the one shown with a can next to a woman's chest) and the black-and-white ads of the hockey players in the locker room. The one with the woman is, I think, supposed to be a takeoff of porn, with the actress giving a performance that even Elizabeth Berkeley would be embarrassed of. Then again, I'm giving the Steelback ad geniuses too much credit for being aware of the concept of satire. It's quite possible that Frank D'Angelo is shagging this chick, and gave her a role in the commercial as a sad example of foreplay.
The hockey ones really take the cake. It's D'Angelo in a locker room with hockey greats like Brad Park and the Hull brothers, and he's talking about 'greatness recognizing greatness.' The NHL legends have a noticable edge in their voice as they address D'Angelo, as if they know he's full of shit but are still looking forward to cashing his cheque.
The ads are a masterpiece of self-indulgence. It's one thing to have athletes endorse your product, or even to put yourself into the ad along with them in some kind of self-deprecating way. I can imagine the late Dave Thomas in some kind of an ad with, say, Lebron James. Dave is dressed in a grey t-shirt, blank red athletic jersey, headband and athletic shorts and he's talking to Lebron about playing a game of one-on-one, but Lebron is too busy occupied with eating the new Wendy's bacon cheeseburger or whatnot. Dave would then unleash a few dunks and three-pointers while Lebron's back is turned, and when Lebron finally is done with the burger, Dave is standing there with a sheepish grin and making some pun about warming up and how warm the burger is. The point here is that OF COURSE Dave isn't an actual athlete or on the same level as Lebron, but it's all tongue-in-cheek fun and Dave Thomas is a lovable grandpa of a man. Whereas Frank D'Angelo is just a dick.
Upon re-reading that last paragraph, maybe I just have a deep-seated desire to write commercials for Wendy's. Too bad Dave has passed away -- I guess they could just hire SCTV's Dave Thomas. He's available.