What’s funny? Stalking.

Everybody loves a nice, lighthearted joke about stalking right?

All. Day. Long. Stalking jokes.

Yep, everybody is going to love our new stalker-themed Jeep ad.


Except, maybe, the 6.6 million people who are victims of stalking every year. So what if, you know, roughly a quarter of women experience stalking at some point in their lives. Those people might not be able to take a joke. Whatevs. So what if stalking is a crime in 50 states. It’s not like it’s always a felony. Can’t people take a joke?

See, when funny and cute girls are the stalkers, it’s super funny and cute. It’s comedy gold! So memorable; so much less edgy than those rape jokes we eventually decided not to use after that killjoy focus group. Plus, it’s only like 7% of men who’ve been stalked. Well, at least that’s how many wusses admit it. Women would never stalk other women, duh, so it’s not like this could upset anybody. Hell, most men would totally be excited if they had a stalker. Amirite?

Better idea: let’s put a stalker joke in a promoted tweet so it’s effectively stalking people too!



Stupor Bowl XLVII Champion: Goats

There is hope for the future, but the present is largely lost. Colin Kaepernick outplayed the Ravens, but early troubles and late no-calls (referees) and bad calls (coaches) doomed the 49ers hopes at a comeback victory. Much like aging fossil and erstwhile deer antler aficionado Ray Lewis, the tired baby boomers on Madison Avenue failed to deliver even one meaningful contribution to the biggest day in television advertising.

Budweiser earned some sniffles with the life cycle of a Clydesdale with separation anxiety. It’s nice that the horse bonded with the trainer, but the ad doesn’t speak very highly of the living conditions for Clyde as a member of the pulling team. Or for his safety in their care. Unless galloping freely down city streets is a good idea. I can’t be sure.

It’s an ad focused on a compelling story. But pair this story with the latest and greatest “upscale” Budweiser product, “Black Crown” (which follows “Platinum” and “Select” and on and on as inane attempts to take upscale a nasty beer), and A-B has seriously missed the mark on trying to get people to buy their products. Hint: start making regional craft beer. That’s what people drink. Stop trying to make yet another beer with “more taste” that perfectly multicultural rich people in immense houses will exclusively sip while being toasted by a man in an apron. What’s that? Those people don’t exist? Oh, right. No wonder A-B marketshare is tanking. Must be time to buy up some more competition.

The best ad of the evening was from Doritos. Naturally, it came from their crowd-sourced ideas campaign. No major agency = no terrible misogynistic ad campaigns. Audi’s attempt at youth empowerment yielded a sexual assault and a young driver speeding. Classy. (A huge fall from their tow truck driver “QUATTTTTRRROOOOOO!” goodness from last year.) GoDaddy aims for the bottom deliberately, so they don’t even merit a mention. Someday, the fact that women comprise more than half of the adult population will penetrate the brains of Madison Ave. Until then, expect the trash to continue.

So, on to the winner. A single white guy (I’d have used Bjorn Johnson) wanders aimlessly through a neighborhood only to come across a goat for sale. Disregarding the neck brace of the seated single white guy offering the goat for sale, our bearded hero (let’s call him, “Beardy”) sees nothing but good times ahead, and proceeds home with the goat (I’ve named the goat “Nacho”). What to feed the goat? Doritos! Convenient, because Beardy also loves Doritos. Not, it seems, as much as does Nacho, who loudly devours every chip in sight. The empty cupboard elicits a human shriek from Nacho (then another), which, along with Nacho’s understated neck-brace wearing prior owner, combine to deliver the spot to first place this year. Diversity disclaimer: only single white guys would consider a goat pet and a Doritos diet, so it’s OK for the only humans in the ad to be white men (sort-of men). How’d they make it? Here is how.

Cool Stuff. We’re Cool Too.

“Hmm, what’s this ad for? Jetpacks? Meh, you need a parachute. Wet swing-sets? Wait, what’s that cool kite? OMG! HOVERCRAFT MOTORCYCLE!!!”

So proceeds the imagined internal dialogue of the 18 – 34 yr. old male target of Honda’s latest bad ad.

“SWEET geodesic solar thingy windows in that industrial start-up loft space! I could start my business there – write Apps and make a million dollars – AND cardboard furniture! OMG! ROBOT BARISTAS!”

To their credit, there haven’t been any obvious references to sex.

“Whoah! Parachute-FREE jetpacks!, and hipster-friendly folding bikes. Wait, what’s this confusingly out-of-place jet? Hmm, nevermind – back to the good stuff – a skin diving airbag float! Baby won’t get the Bends! Hmm, whatsis? – a robo baby carriage? Babies? huh? Whew, that was close – a surfer – no! – a Surfboard Hydroplane! or Hydrofoil! Whichisit? Who cares, a virtual projected keyboard! Why doesn’t my iPhone 5 have that?!?”

The brain is now primed for the switch. So many cool and desirable things splashed quickly onto the screen, slowly peppered with – something.

“Wha? Hondas?”

Things Can Always Be Better

Softly, as the viewer’s brain has been reduced to a rudimentary amygdala mush by the onslaught of cool gadgets, there has been dialogue. Dialogue slowly describing what the advertiser considers the ideal state of mind of innovators. People who believe:

Things Can Always Be Better

Cue the Honda logos. Everywhere. The dialogue continues, “We like those people.”

“They think like us.”

“They think like us.” As in, “We’ve always been thinking that way, and others are just now getting on board.” Or, “We came up with the idea of continuous improvement, and anyone with the same idea is our bro, but ultimately emulating our lead.” Slick. How could anyone think what comes after such coolness is anything but awesome incarnate?

Quick, time to see the car. It doesn’t fly, or hover. But it does seem, briefly, to drive through that sweet start-up loft space.

Truffula Tree Certified (and a note on standards)

I’ve been getting emails about this one, so it must be a doozy. Just watched it. Wow.

Truth be told, for an ad to make it onto my radar, I must either witness it myself while watching live TV (very infrequent occurrence) or catch wind of it from a friend. Occasionally, I’ll watch commercials interrupting a show I’ve got in the DVR queue, but not very often. I make a note of these, and attempt to locate them online. Unfortunately for the blog, many of the especially terrible ads I find are not uploaded to YouTube (or they’re uploaded as sloppily edited camera phone videos of a TV). If I can’t find the ad, there is little use sharing it here. However, if there is an ad you find to be wicked bad, feel free to send me a link. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

If you grew up or raised a child in the United States, you almost certainly became acquainted with the work of Dr. Seuss. There’s The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Yertle the Turtle, and, of course, The Lorax.

Published in 1971, The Lorax presented a fairly straightforward gloomy cautionary tale of the over-consumption of natural resources. The title character, claiming to “speak for the trees,” is an early-’70s environmentalist. That was 40 years ago, just before the oil embargo and long gas lines. Naturally, now that the Lorax is looking ahead to the end of his career, it’s time to bank some cash. Time to sell out.

How better to sell out than to start certifying things as Truffula Tree friendly? Or touting the environmental friendliness of an SUV. Maybe it’s time to make up some words too, and make them sound impressive and important without bothering to define them – Skyactiv – that sounds crunchy-friendly. Now, let’s tie all this in to a new movie to make sure lots of people get lots of money and none of it goes to any environmental causes. Sweet. Lorax retirement planning complete.

This ad is horrendous. It’s sure to alienate every. single. human. person. who would otherwise consider purchasing an “environmentally friendlier” SUV. Nary a soul will be soothed by Skyactiv technology with Truffula Tree Certification.

Imagine when the vehicle is 12 years old, sitting on a secondary market lot for $5999. Hopefully some used car salesperson in 2024 will have the good humor to mark “Lorax Approved” on the windshield. Maybe a child watching the movie today will by then be sufficiently jaded and invested in irony to make an offer. “One Truffula seed, not a penny more.”

Broderick, Broderick…

Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero.

Except, not really anymore.

Here is the whole, uncut, extendo-version.

It’s amusing. It’s an homage. It’s a clever remake.

It’s pretty much a complete sellout, and delivers a heartbreaking message: Even if you were as cool as Ferris Bueller, when you get old, you have no friends and have to drive a Honda CR-V instead of a Ferrari.

Broderick goes to the museum. Alone.

To the Amusement Park. Alone.

To the Racetrack. Alone.

To the Beach. Alone.

To Dinner. Alone.

Whatever – even without Cameron or Sloane, it’s fun. “The Hangover” and “Old School” director Todd Philips packs the two and a half minute Ferris-fest with many, many, many little pieces of the original film. Cameron’s Detroit Red Wings sweater makes an appearance. The CR-V boasts a “SO CHOICE” license plate. But the ad wouldn’t have been complete without the iconic Ferris Bueller vest. It’s there. Did you catch it?

Nostalgia aside, however, the message is somewhat better than the current Honda “Leap List” spots. Although the people composing such lists do at least seem to have companions in their lives…

Maybe Broderick should have actually called in sick on this one?

Super Bowl XLVI Ad Preview

With a little over a week to go before the Super Bowl, advertisers are busy ramping up the expectations for what promises to be a slew of violence and/or misogyny-themed (Go-Daddy!, anyone?) commercials. Of course, there are always exceptions. A few of the early sneak-peaks have got me intrigued. Yep, I’m a sucker for this stuff. Why might that be?

I’m now the target demographic.

I’m a thirty-something male. I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. So, naturally, I must be nostalgic for all things ’80s and ’90s, right? Madonna is the half-time show performer. (Disclosure: Borderline is one of the best songs ever, but she’ll instead be singing Holiday) Ferris Bueller promises to return, selling, well, Hondas. And Star Wars will be represented too, sort of. What more could a guy ask for?!? How about those flying cars they were promising us back in the ’80s. Hondas are great and all, but c’mon!

First up: Save Ferris

Please. Save Ferris. He should have taken Sloane and driven off into the sunset. What’s that? He did? Oh, and they had a few dozen kids? And now he’s driving a Honda. Wait – I drive a Honda! I’m just as cool as Ferris! Everything’s coming up Milhouse!

What if I’m anti-Ferris? I don’t want to drive a Honda. Maybe I went backpacking in Europe in the ’90s and learned about sweet, reliable German cars. OOOoooooohhhh! Cute Doggies!!! AND STAR WARS!!!!!

The dogs are barking the song from Star Wars (Nerds: Yes, I know it’s the Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back) that featured prominently in last year’s excellent and enjoyable Gen-X targeted ad. But now, it’s being rendered by a menagerie of ill-mannered barking dogs, and mini-Darth is nowhere to be seen. VW has produced some exceptional ads over the years, so I’ll reserve judgment on this one. However, this ad is evidently just a teaser for the actual Super Bowl ad, so the eventual ad could stink. We shall see. But if you’re impressed by auto-tuned dogs merely barking… you should see this (it’s not an ad):

Whew, that was fun.

And now a quick look back at my favorite Super Bowl Ad of all time.

Executed with a deep commitment to the bit, “Cat Herders” will always remind me that genuinely creative and smart people are still out there trying to sell me something. The ad is a big metaphor for the many elements that go into providing the services rendered by EDS, and to the dedication that their people have to “managing the complexities of the digital economy.” Little details stand out: camaraderie between herdsmen, an allergic sneeze, the use of a pet-hair roller and a ball of yarn being re-wound. It’s flawless, and never fails to lift my spirits when I see another terrible Go-Daddy! ad.

Now, let the Super Bowl Ads begin!

It’s the Most Horrible Song of the Year

It’s the holiday season for several religions. Christians interested in Christmas are subject to the most scorn from advertisers, who butcher well-known seasonal songs for their own profiteering purposes… often without even the courtesy to rhyme or fit the ad copy into the well-known structure of the song. Sometimes there is tired, retro staging and dancing to accompany a bastardized song. And when it all comes together this badly, you’ve got a wickedBADvertising holiday gem.

Contagious earworms are bad enough, but when a brand re-purposes a beloved holiday song for its own purposes, a line is crossed. The theory of such an advertisement is that the viewer will attach the fond memories of the song to the brand. And, when later singing the song, will chuckle pleasantly at the thought of the alternate (branded) lyrics that just popped into mind.

But what really happens is this: new brand loathing. I’m far less likely to consider attending a sales event for a brand that is publicized with a cheap, hacked-up Christmas carol. Rather, I’ll avoid such events on principle so as to properly reward wickedBADvertisers for their failure to come up with a creative original idea. When weighing the pros and cons of a major purchase, memorable bad ads are sometimes enough to tip the scales. After all – if a company believes this sort of cheap stunt is a good idea, what other bad decisions have they made already and how many more will they make in the future? How will they respond if I have a problem after my purchase? Will they issue that recall if only 10 people’s cars have exploded?

In this specific ad, Nissan marries bad choreography with worse lyrics for a total package that begs for increased holiday cynicism. It’s not better to give or to receive – it’s best to buy cars on sale. Despite Nissan’s general target market of Gen X and Y/Millennials, the dancing and wardrobe speaks to the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers, who are well ensconced in the Buick & Cadillac demographic. Old people don’t buy Nissans in great numbers. And if they do, it’s at an early bird special, not two weeks before Christmas. Old people are done shopping in October, before everything is, “all picked over.” However, it’s possible that they’re actually targeting people who happily and deliberately watch “Glee.” That might make it worse.