South of the Border

Massachusetts has become the whipping-boy for many 2012 Republican Primary conversations not initiated by Mitt Romney. Many of the candidate ads feature references to former Governor Romney’s weak conservative credentials, Newt Gingrich even bestowing him with the monicker of  “Massachusetts Moderate.” Whether that charge is true or false (or even possible), the unfortunate reality is that Massachusetts is just south of the New Hampshire border. With the nations-first primary scheduled for tomorrow, ads are playing wall to wall… in Massachusetts. Much of New Hampshire lies within the Massachusetts (Boston) TV market, so we Mass-holes are subjected to all of the fun and excitement of a contested primary, without – you know – actually getting to vote in one.

Iowa missing-person Jon Huntsman has been hitting the airways hard – and his PAC or Super PAC or PAC MAN or someone not under his immediate direction but nonetheless hoping to promote his candidacy has dropped this crap-bomb on us.

If you mute the ad, it might be for a snazzy new Chevy Volt or Dodge (oops, RAM) Truck. Certainly something American made – or at least marketed as such. A cast of grizzled people whose eyes insist they care list off their needs. Old dude needs Metamucil, or to pick up his ex-astronaut buddies in time for the Moose Lodge meeting. Vaguely Hispanic but trustworthily-greying guy needs to get to his audition for Rob Schneider’s new CBS show, “¡Rob!” (Working title, “¡Fitting in all our required minority programming in just one half hour per week, and without Tyler Perry!”). Middle aged white lady has clearly been to the eyebrow threader recently, so it’s not clear where she is in such a hurry to go… so perhaps she’s pitching the environmental angle on the Volt.

Quick, it’s a list of superlatives coming at you too impossibly fast to read, slicing in with confidence across the screen. A list of Motor Trend and Car & Driver awards, no doubt. Surely the class-leading EPA-estimated 35mpg pickup will arrive skidding across the screen next. What? Wait, who is that guy? He looks mildly surprised to be having his picture taken – casual, almost, in his blue blazer – as though he is always wearing it – maybe a bit young for his years – and clearly hard at work.

Wait. Why then, is this ad set in an underground parking structure? Oh, I know – the Volt will slalom through the many, many, many columns running to infinity along the sides. No? C’mon!

OK, un-mute.

Ah, it’s a political ad. Blah blah, Obama sucks, doom, gloom, be afraid, government sucks too (even though the head of it has “failed” to have somehow fixed every problem). Health Care reform: “toss it,” insists the apparently cranky woman (eyebrow threading hurts!). Aaaaand, without a wink of awareness of the idiocy of the statement, the astronaut (having heard, him, however, I now gather that he is instead a small engine repairman, or a voice-over actor) claims, “the world is literally collapsing.”

Psssst. Old dude. Come out from under the parking deck. The world is not literally collapsing. Plenty of infrastructure is, however, literally collapsing, making your extended sojourn underneath thousands of pounds of concrete a dubious decision. Infrastructure collapse prevention was part of a jobs bill that Obama “failed” to pass last year, remember? Apparently not. Do you remember what you had for breakfast? Sir?

Oh good, Old dude is back to close out the spot, inquiring longingly, “Why haven’t we heard of this guy?”

Buddy, you’ve been lost in a parking deck for years. Or, there is some big conspiracy keeping Jon Huntsman down. Yeah, that’s got to be it.

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The Feelings

Amica Insurance is a repeat offender. They re-use one of two tired music tracks again and again, and frequently run back-to-back 15 second spots instead of one 30-second spot. The back-to-backs will be identical in music, production design and color palette – and differ only in the appropriately diverse sparkling spokesperson and the aspect of Amica awesomeness they wish to highlight.

In an earlier and especially awful 15-second ad, a middle-aged woman looks directly at the camera and confidently decrees, “I’m a value-seeking missile.” Who talks like this? Certainly not vaguely Hispanic women in pants-suits. No, this is the made-up language of Amicaville, a land in which all persons reflect daily – nay – hourly on how amazing it is to have Amica car insurance.

Now, it’s gone beyond something for your co-worker to validate when you bring up your telephone insurance quote inappropriately in the workplace. It’s moved past the knowing approval of a mysteriously clean car repair man when you take your vehicle in for repairs. These days, it’s the feelings you get just having Amica insurance that really sets them apart.

The feelings apparently have nothing to do with blowing bubbles, flying kites with your children, eating ice cream, showering your family with gifts extracted from your Prius, frolicking with your trusted yellow lab, buying your son his first pet fish, taking your daughter to a Halloween party, cruising the highway in your convertible or snuggling with a loved one. Those activities are feelings-neutral. But Amica, well – that’s where the feelings are.

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