Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good Commercial/Bad Commercial

GOOD: Bud Light. The 'Budd Light' character is one of those marketing ideas that seems so obvious that you wonder why the company hasn't introduced it until now. Perhaps this was Bud Light's fail-safe idea to bust out during a creative drought while they come up with more witty ways to show how guys like to drink beer and watch sports. Pop quiz: is there a wider gap between quality of ads and quality of product than Bud Light? Their commercials are almost always hilarious, yet their beer tastes like piss. I don't even like beer, but even I can tell that Bud Light is a solid step below your average brew.

BAD: Conservative Party of Canada. These new campaign ads reach a new depth in hilariously poor image construction. First of all, "we're better off with Harper" is the actual campaign slogan. Seriously. Their first option, "Stephen Harper...Meh, He's Alright, I Guess," was rejected when they couldn't come to a consensus on how many H's to put in 'meh.' Secondly, whoever came up with the idea to dress Harper in a sweater-vest like some kind of cracked-out Mr. Rogers and have him creepily smile at the camera...well, that person is no Josh Lyman. I think my favourite is the one where Harper's talking about playing cards with his kids. I keep getting this mental image of Harper's young daughter beating him at War, followed by Harper angrily flipping the table and stalking off, possibly blaming the loss on Stephane Dion. Later that evening, Harper's daughter is convinced to throw the next game to her father thanks to a a briefcase full of money delivered by those two guys who tried to bribe Chuck Cadman.

GOOD: Telus Mobility. Like the Bud Light ads, this is also more of a lifetime achievement award. Bonus kudos comes from my mother, who loves the nonstop array of catchy songs. Plus, those animals ain't getting any less cute. I have a vague recollection of someone telling me that they know the person who wrangles the animals for these ads. I'm using 'wrangle' in the showbiz sense, meaning this person finds the animals and arranges for them to appear in the commercials. I don't mean wrangle in the sense that they're out in the wild tossing lassos around ferrets.

BAD: The Rogers kids and 'The Ten.' Okay, so, you all know those Rogers ads with those five kids, right? It's my belief that Rogers basically stole the whole concept of this group from Scooby Doo* --- the dorky guy is Fred, the blonde chick is Daphne, the brunette is Velma, and the two interchangeable hipster guys are Scooby and Shaggy. Anyway, the commercial that really rocketed them to infamy was the ad from last year where they're all sitting around the one guy's room as he's packing for school, and it turns out the fifth person in his Five is his mother. (Thus leading to the blond chick's "Aww, it's your MOMMY!" line that became like nails on a chalkboard pretty damn quickly). So, Rogers recently re-released that ad to promote the fact that your Five is now your Ten. It's literally the exact same ad, just with a very obvious (and lame) voiceover replacing the word 'Five' with 'Ten.' Seriously, the shoddiness of this voiceover is just one step removed from the editing job done to finish Milhouse's scenes in the Radioactive Man movie. Also, using the 'Five' ad makes less narrative sense in this wild new 'Ten' world. Should the blonde really be all that touched that this dude included his four closest friends amongst his top ten phone contacts? Seems like a no-brainer to me. Frankly, the fact that she was surprised they were all in his Five is a stretch. It would've been great if Rogers had just edited five more friends into the commercial just to fill out the Ten. They could just be standing in the background or something. Then again, given the quality of that voiceover, I wouldn't trust the Rogers ad team to crop something on PhotoStop at this point.

* = I think I also once wrote a newspaper column about the parallels between Scooby Doo and the O.C. Mischa Barton was Daphne, Adam Brody is Shaggy, Rachel Bilson is (a far more attractive version of) Velma, the brooding guy is Fred, and Peter Gallagher's eyebrows were roughly as thick as the coat of a great dane, so he was Scooby.

GOOD: The Napa Autoparts' mechanics imitating what the engine problems sound like. Somewhere, the guy from Police Academy is on the phone with his agent, yelling at him for not getting an audition for this gig. Isn't it great that it's been almost 25 years since Police Academy came out, and yet people still get a reference to 'the guy from Police Academy' while talking about people making funny noises? The actor's name, btw, is Michael Winslow, thus making it impossible that he never made a cameo on Family Matters as, like, Carl's nephew. What's the over/under on the number of times in Winslow's life that he's been sitting in front of a mirror practicing his sounds, before suddenly stopping and weeping over the direction that his life has taken? I'd put it at 700.

BAD: Lauren, the blogger, talking about NHL 09. "The best parts about hockey are the stories." Good call, Lauren. The stories certainly are the best parts about hockey, right after the part about the players skating around the ice attempting to shoot a puck into a net in an exciting athletic competition. (Editor's note: strike the word 'exciting' if it's the Minnesota Wild.) This ad is edited in a way that would make the Rogers sound editing crew applaud. It's a bunch of shots from the game cross-cut with random bullshit like a typewriter, screaming woman and a mother reading a book to a little kid, which I guess enforces the 'story' element. Lauren is superimposed over everything, making awkward comments and hand motions that are, theoretically, supposed to be in time with the game images we're seeing. Total budget for this commercial: $8.42. Who the hell is this Lauren clown, anyway? A quick jaunt over to reveals that her last (poorly-written) blog post came in April. Way to keep up the pace, Lauren. That's okay though, surely nothing exciting happens in hockey in May or June. Also of note, has two 'celebrity' bloggers covering each conference. One is some soap opera actor. The other is...wait, good god, that's David Boreanaz's music! Yes, that's right, Angel himself checked in talking about the Philadelphia Flyers' playoff run. Philly is apparently Boreanaz's favourite team, which explains Bobby Clarke's cameo on Buffy as a vampire who clipped Buffy in the knee from behind and then ran and hid behind a group of stronger, tougher vampires. I love how EA Sports produces an ad centered around the game's 'drama' and, instead of picking one of two actual actors from the blogosphere who can reinforce this point, instead picks Lauren, who has the charisma of a bag of wet sand. Though Lauren's cue card-tastic acting ability isn't even close to the funniest moment of this commercial. That honour goes to the game clip that shows Kyle Wellwood laying someone out with a monster check. What the hell? I guess we can look forward to an MLB 2010 commercial featuring Prince Fielder hitting stand-up triples, Jamie Moyer striking guys out with a 103-mph heater and Alex Rios properly running bases.


Hal Incandenza said...

1. re: Harper--> I think the slot machine one is the worst (seriously: you're going to run on the fact that Dion will make gas more expensive? I'm just going to surf over to Wikipedia to see how much gas cost when Harper was sworn in in Feb. 2006 an--OH, MY GOD, MY KEYBOARD IS ON FIRE!!), but they're all awful.

2. I like the Bud ads, but doesn't it strike you as odd that, in the TV one, he appears to be baiting the ladies with lesbian porn? Watch it again.

3. The only ads that should ever be re-used is that "Fannnntastic!" Cash for Life ad (I love that guy) and that beer ad (Molson, I think) from the early 90s with the chorus "it's what's inside that counts" (so damn catchy). Anything else is totally lazy.

4. Go Angel! Elisha Cuthbert use to blog about the Kings (she's allegedly a hardcore fan, in that she slept with every player on the team), but stopped (blogging that is; I think she still bags NHL players) when she broke up with Sean Avery.

5. I've only seen the NHL O9 ad once and I agree that it's kind of lame (the game, however, is supposed to be awesome), but I've seen EA use this concept successfully (in particular, the NCAA 09 ads--speaking of kick-ass games--are pretty cool).

6. Trying to figure out how the special guest stars fit into your O.C.-Scooby Doo analogy. Chris Brown is clearly the Harlem Globetrotters, but what about Phyllis Diller?

Question Mark said...

1. Between the slot machine ads and playing cards with his kids, maybe Harper is saying he has a gambling problem. Peter McKay must save him from its neon claws!

2. Well really, who doesn't like lesbian porn?

3. I'd also throw the Goodyear Tire guy onto that list.

4. Man, if you're going to be a puck bunny, you should at least find a better team than the Kings.

5. I'll take your word for it, never seen the NCAA 09 ads. Do those ones also feature unrealistic game action? Like, Michigan winning a game or something?

6. Phyllis Diller can be Alan Dale. Has Dale officially been on every show in the last decade?

Anonymous said...

Bud Light is my favourite beer, by far.