Over the past few years the amount of television that I watch live has dwindled to nearly nothing. A vast majority of my viewing is pre-recorded or on DVD. The result has been a sharp decrease in my exposure to ads.
This changes occasionally when something must be watched live, usually a sporting event, and results in a glut of advertising hitting my brain and me wondering who the hell writes these things and if they’ve ever actually used the products involved.
So here are the top five products that I really wish would act more like the fantastical versions that exist in advertising land.
We will start with beer, a ubiquitous product whose commercials range from the ludicrous to the absolutely ludicrous.
The standard ad revolves around fun, and how much of it instantly appears when you pop the cap on a bottle of beer. And I agree with this in a generic sense but the kind of fun that gets represented in beer ads is so far from the kind of fun that winds up happening in real life it’s downright shocking. I mean, good times ensue, but it’s like they’re drinking beer in some alternate universe where being drunk means that you get uber-sober and can suddenly play beach volleyball, deliver perfectly timed witticisms to supermodels or pilot a jet-ski like you were born on Planet Watersports.
The people in the ads never seem to think that stealing posters from bus stops, buying an Elite Membership in the Golden Tee Fan Club or walking through the Holland Tunnel are good ideas. All things that actually have occurred amongst the beer drinkers I know.
And that’s only one angle. The other angle beer ads use is the “Look at how distinguished we are,” ploy. These usually involve some silver-haired guy walking around, talking to the camera about how seriously his company takes its malt or something and in the background there are horses, mountains or one of those giant copper vats that are in every beer factory on TV.
Look. You’re beer. You don’t need to do this and nobody is buying it. When I drink your product I wind up passed out at my desk at two in the morning with a half eaten pizza slice on my lap and the Pussycat Dolls Greatest Hits downloading on iTunes. Don’t try and sell me on this “prestigious” crap. And stop with the malt.
The only exceptions here are the Dos Equis ads with The Most Interesting Man in the World.
These are awesome and feature a man who is so cool he has all the adventure the other beer ads promise and yet doesn’t even drink beer, creating a mind-fuck so pure for the viewer that he could then pitch feminine hygiene products and I would buy them.
Honestly, this feels like a cheap shot. Do I really even need to say anything? Airline ads show things like people arriving at their destination, unpissed off and on time, with all of their luggage.
Upon actually using an airline none of these things happen. Not even close.
So stop lying and showing me people who are the slightest bit relaxed while they fly. Outside of the sheer terror involved in riding a steel tube ten-thousand feet in the air there’s the added bonus that nothing ever goes remotely the way it’s supposed to causing cascading effects throughout the entire nation if one plane somewhere doesn’t get its windows washed in a timely manner.
As I was once told by the person manning my gate during a day when I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at Newark airport, “It’s a delicate system.”
Yeah. No kidding.
3. All Children’s Cereals:
These are essentially beer ads aimed at six-year-olds. The product is poured, rainbows shoot out of people’s eyes and suddenly everyone is rollerblading through an amusement park with a cartoon spirit guide. Also, usually there’s a fuddy-duddy adult who, after the tremendous force of the cereal is unleashed, winds up with their hair messed up and tied to a chair or something allowing unfettered rollerblading to ensue.
All of which, for a six year old, is pretty much the equivalent of attractive people on jet-skis.
What actually happens when you eat children’s cereal? The milk soaks into the product after roughly two spoonfuls and you wind up with a sugary sludge that Calvin couldn’t choke down causing children to think they’re in an amusement park with a cartoon tiger but really they’re just running up and down the hall with a pot on their head.
Actually that’s sort of a draw the more that I think about it.
Maybe I just miss being six.
4. M Night Shyamalan Movies:
Is there an entertainer whose products look more amazing than M Night’s and yet whose products consistently fail at the levels his do?
I’m sold every time. The mood, the color scheme, the notion that something will be weird and terrifying but ultimately illuminating…probably that guy with the voice in all the movie trailers will be in there saying something cool and then there’s a loud noise and the soundtrack goes quiet as the screen goes blank and something is spelled out in huge glorious letters.
Fucking-A yes I want to see that movie!
And then I see them and they’re crap.
Well the recent ones anyway.
And, yes, this applies to basically ninety-eight percent of movies that come out.
Let’s face it, Hollywood is better at creating trailers than they are at creating movies, but M. Night for me will always be the king. There is something very well crafted about his movies that always gets my hopes up. They have a professional look and feel and you sort of get the idea that he is comfortably in the driver’s seat and taking you exactly where he wants to take you, its just that where he wants to take you is boring and pointless. Meanwhile with someone like Bruckheimer’s movies I get the idea that a feces throwing chimp is in the driver’s seat while Bruckheimer is off somewhere rolling around on a giant pile of money.
For good measure, though, I have to throw Tarantino in here as the absolute exception to this rule. Every time I see a trailer for a new Tarantino movie I think, “Good lord that looks freaking moronic. She’s going to ‘kill bill?’ That’s supposed to get my dander up?” And then I see it and it reaffirms my belief that greatness can exist in my lifetime.
5. Scrubbing Bubbles:
This is it for me. Cream of the crop. The big cheese. I love the scrubbing bubbles, making this the only entry on this list where I don’t want the product to act like the commercials because I think the commercials are ridiculous, but because I hold the product in such high regard that I honestly think there’s a chance that these marvelous creatures could one day come screaming out of my spray-can of bathroom cleaner.
Ever since I was a kid the scrubbing bubbles have held me in thrall and little has changed over the past twenty years. The way they sort of look like bubbles but also don’t, the way their “scrubbing parts” look like bad-ass mustaches, the way they go hurtling into a dirty tub, “Ride of the Valkyries” no doubt blasting in their heads, performing a synchronized dance through the tiles that is half-downhill slalom and half-Charge of the Light Brigade and in their wake there is only glisteningly clean porcelain. I love every moment of it.
And that is so freakishly close to what actually happens when using the product it’s stunning. I’m always amazed at how the liquid that comes out of the spray-can magically poofs up into a foam. And the noises…mmmm…the noises. The fizzing bubble-popping wonder that fills my bathroom letting me know my little friends are hard at work is strangely soothing. And the result? Well eighty percent of the time I forget that I was cleaning my bathroom while I give them their recommended two-minute wait and I come back eight hours later having done nothing but spray them and walk away and my tub is remarkably clean for me having done zero work.
My hat is off to you my beloved friends. You complete me.
Axe Body Spray
I’ve never used it, so maybe putting it on really does make vapid sluts follow you around licking their lips, but I’m pretty sure it just makes you smell like Seaside Heights.
I’ve never used this product either but its commercials are nothing short of fascinating. They consist of these guys:
This society of green mucus blobs are right now in your lungs leading lives of astonishing complexity and depth. The level of writing that has gone into these boogers is ridiculous, there are back-stories and fleshed out secondary characters and they have night clubs and swing dance night and gyms and commutes to office jobs and family strife and then you remember that they are snot and this product is an expectorant and you feel sort of weird.
Every Infomercial Product Ever Made:
Sadly I’ve never ordered anything off of my TV so I couldn’t include these on the proper list, but we’ll finish off with a nod to them as clearly these are the kings of all ads.