Super Duds

I don’t watch many television commercials these days. My wife and I don’t actually get television. No satellite or cable, and certainly no broadcast here in the sticks. My parents next door have satellite, and we watch a few shows with them, but mom and dad hate the commercials and liberally employ the mute button. As a marketing communications professional, I should probably stay abreast of the latest TV commercials, but they are usually so bad and annoying, I don’t lose any sleep over missing them.

But for last night’s Super Bowl, I insisted dad put the remote down and keep the sound up. I shouldn’t have bothered.

The Super Bowl is supposed to be the showcase for advertising’s greatest creativity. If it is, what a sorry, sorry state the industry is in.

First of all, I can hardly even recall any of the spots, which is likely the worst thing you can say about advertising. I’m going over to NFL.com, which has a listing of the commercials quarter by quarter just to remind myself what I saw.

I'd like to teach the world to fight over Oreo cookies.

I’d like to teach the world to fight over Oreo cookies.

Oh, yes. There was the Oreo commercial that was just a stupid re-calibration of the old Miller Light campaign, “Tastes great. Less filling.” In this one a bunch of morons destroy a library arguing over whether it is the cookie or the creme filling that is the best part of the Oreo. We had the requisite competing Pepsi and Coke ads, of course. I think the Coke ad was trying to modernize the “I’d like to teach the world to sing” spot from the 1960s; while not exactly brilliant at least it is promoting harmony and not mayhem. And I have no idea what Pepsi was trying to say, but then I never do. I’m not cool enough to drink Pepsi.

There was that movie trailer with Vin Diesel and the Rock. Lots of things exploding. My mom commented, “I have no interest in seeing that.” To which I tried to explain that the studio would be horrified if she did; if an 81-year old woman wanted to see this flammable garbage, either the filmmaker fucked up or the promo people did, because, sadly, the last audience marketers not selling dentures or Depends care about is old people.

That Calvin Klein commercial simply looked like it had gotten lost on its way to HereTV.

And we can’t forget the beer commercials. These seem to come in two varieties, both of which promise that you’ll get laid if you drink their product. In the first variety, they want to convince us that the best way to improve our sex lives is by associating with their label. These ads feature people so fashion-conscious they orgasm just by seeing themselves in a mirror. The second and more common variety of beer commercial wallows in the frat boy mentality — just get everyone drunk, you’re bound to get fucked. The people in these spots are so stupid that even the brothers from Delta House would not want to be seen in their company.

Overall, what I’ve never understood about television commercials is how often the advertisers make the people who use their products look like idiots. Why do they do that? To make the commercials memorable? All this says to me is, “We think our customers are morons. Isn’t that funny?”

The advertisers pay $4,000,000 for each 30 seconds during the Super Bowl to display this dreck. So who are the morons, really?

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