Too Sexy (Obese) for My Shirt

W. K. Kellogg, founder of the Kellogg Company, would be quite proud of the latest round of advertising for Pop Tarts. After all, he pioneered both nutrition labeling and inclusion of toys for kids in his packaging. Pop Tarts are a natural culmination of his work: food with less nutritional content than the packaging, marketed as toys!

The ad is amazingly straightforward and honest.

Colorless tubby blobs wander aimlessly through a monochrome world. Parents, these are your children. Yes, this ad is directed at you, because “I’m too Sexy” by Right Said Fred was released 21 years ago.

Boom! Bright colors and patterns! Bright things must be foods, so eat them! Woooo, look, when I eat all of those artificial colors, my pasty self turns colors too! Just like inside me really does! And I get a sugar buzz – naturally – ’cause there is at least 16 – 18 grams of sugar in these things. It’s listed on the label as High Fructose Corn Syrup, but I know it’s really just Corn Sugar.

“Pop Tarts. How good does your favorite flavor make you feel?” (Implication: pretty f’n great!)

“Introducing new wild fruit fusion.” (No actual wild fruit or fusion ingredients)

“Try on the latest must-have flavor.” (Prediction: obesity awaits)

“Pop Tarts. Joylicious.”

Pretty soon you’ll be too “sexy” for your shirt too. It will no longer fit.


Education Rejection

Mmmmmm. Corn Dogs.

Alas, not an ad for corn dogs.

Education Connection sells… something. It’s not clear. But they apparently will connect you to “the right” online college so that you can take classes “on your own time.” The imaginative lyrics, rhyming “bye” and “bye” at the end of the first two lines, really makes a statement about the quality of the education to which you’re going to soon be connected. Not a very good statement. The song is awful.

One wonders what demographic population would be attracted to the popular ’80s look of the singer and unpopular early ’90s sound of her song. From the video, it is safe to assume that those targeted include owners of comfortable metal-tube futons who alternate between ergonomic greek revival column standing desks and said futons when doing homework.

Oddly, our tour guide songstress seems change careers from corn dog hawker to website shill to professional singer during the ad. This is the logical path to fame for an American Idol contestant, but not really the normal (or abnormal, or even outlier) road to becoming a college student. It’s a shame, because she’s got some sweet herky-jerky dance moves that would really benefit her in class.

Do tell, what does Education Connection offer? “They matched me with the right college for me, for free!” (note: a little introspection and a web search will also work) But, now I’m forced to wonder (because you’ve just said you’ll do it for free) – does… getting matched up… with the right college for me… usually… cost money? If so, this Education Connection sounds like a value! Whoa! If I “log on” now, I’ll get a free “Success Kit” which is worth $100!!!

Yep, it’s worth $100 to the for-profit colleges and universities that will soon receive their own success kit: the names, addresses and emails of lots of people who have identified themselves as interested in taking online classes. Such a deal. Almost like they planned it that way. Good thing they don’t have a celebrity spokesperson; I might have not seen through their slick scheme.

Oh, wait.

Both ladies seem to think that “Logged On To Education Connection” means “Walked On To Education Connection.” Perhaps that’s why they are still seeking that elusive degree?

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!

Feed the Senses

Meow. (Dude.)

Meow. (‘Sup dude.)

Mew mew mew MEW mew mew! (I just got the GREATEST stuff!)

Mew mew mew MEW mew mew? (You just got the GREATEST stuff?)

Meaouw! (Hex yeah.)

Mew mew-mew mew mew, mew mew. (Don’t bogart that joint, my friend!)

Mreaw, mreaw. Mew mew meaow-reow. (No, no. It’s not catnip.)

Mreaw? (No?)

Mreaw. Mew mew MEW mew mew! Mew din din. (No. This stuff is WAY better! It’s what my idiot person feels the need to call, “din-din.”)

New Friskies. A healthy meal for your cat. Now with LSD.

The actual lyrics: “What if one little pop, could open a world of wonder? So – sensory, so satisfying… the discovery never seems to stop. A journey to delicious and beyond. Exciting your cat, day and night – with endless enchantment… It’s the magic Friskies makes happen – every day, in so many ways. Friskies. Fed the senses.”

Cats on Acid.


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.


Start with a Classic

In world in which all problems have been solved, Jason Alexander offers the solution to the problem nobody has been having, spawning a major branch of future advertising more frequently associated with pharmaceuticals.

The McDLT. It could be the best tasting lettuce and tomato hamburger (pause for skeptical look) ever!

Accosting eager passersby with a delicious solution to the apparently ubiquitous problem of mushy, warm veg on their (ostensibly) “beefy” meat patties, Alexander sings and dances his way to wickedBADvertising glory.

This is a wickedBADvertisement for several reasons.

1. The song: “Beefy” isn’t a word to sing. Let’s get that out in front. The McDLT is for adults only, based on the childless world in which it is being offered. Everyone is sterile and there are no more children. They have all clearly given up on their hair and wardrobes. All of the non-whites in this town have lost all self-respect (and rhythm), Ronald McDonald is nowhere to be seen, and there is no PlayPlace under the golden arches. The horror. However, people do seem to be awfully chummy and agreeable (despite the intolerable circumstances of rampant soggy lettuce), so maybe the no-kids world isn’t so bad. Interestingly, only a few years after the McDLT was discontinued, McDonald’s introduced the Arch Deluxe… which they marketed directly and explicitly to adults. It flopped. Clearly adults need to be stealthily marketed to with a sneaky strategy such as…

2. Ad Solves a Problem Created by Advertiser: Burgers only previously had the condition of soggy veg due to McDonalds’ habit of having burgers prepared (hours?) in advance and tossed down a tin chute into a heating area. In the ozone-busting Styrofoam confines of the burger clamshell, irony would kick in to create a micro-greenhouse effect – steaming and reducing to flaccid mush the flavorless iceberg and unripe beefsteak. Buuuuuuttttt…

3. Blame the Customer: Clearly, this two-chambered container can’t be necessary due to McDonald’s product or practices being flawed, so it must be your fault, loyal customer. It’s during transit that everything gets all gross – so we don’t serve McDLT sandwiches to customers who sit in the dining room. Except that we do. Ooops.

4. Global Slogan Tie-in: Yep, you remember it, “It’s a good time, for the great taste, of McDonald’s.” This was one of many jingles McDonald’s has used to poison your childhood memories, and it couldn’t be left out of any ad. “Big Mac, fillet o’ fish, quarter pounder, french fries…” Earworm planting is a cardinal offense. McDonald’s current slogan, “I’m lovin’ it!” has been etching itself into your brain since 2003.

Sum: I actually have a fondness for this ad. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic yuppie universe in which Cop Rock is a perennial winner of all Best Drama awards. Bankers and joggers, tradesman and minstrels join in the communal joy, welcoming each other with song and dance and showing no class barriers. I’m lovin’ it.