Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Irritating Messages: My Top Ten TV-Spam Ads


Finding twenty-odd appeals from Nigerian finance ministers and Viagra salesmen in my eMail in-box is bad enough. But there I am, happily watching Hunt for Red October for the forty-third time (because I'm too lazy to pop the DVD in and watch it without commercials), when it hits me—the ads I'm ignoring are just old-media spam!

10. Glade Wisp room freshener.
Hey, I like things that smell nice as much as the next guy. We use a standard squeeze-pump to spray smell-nicer stuff around the room. When did this simple process (smell odor, get deodorant, squeeze handle) become onerous? Aside from yellow cakes in the urinals, I don't remember instantaneous response to odors being a big concern when I was a kid, either. But now we have "motorized dispensers," and even this new "puff maker," around which its buyers sit in awe: "That last puff smelled the same as the first!" Give me a break! Anything you smell fades away after the first encounter. Pull the other one, folks—in fact, pull my finger, and I'll show you "puff dispensing."

9. Baby Bob for Quiznos Subs.
This one makes my list mostly because of the annoying dissonance of the crabby-old-man voice with the baby's face. I know I'm not the only one who finds this image a little creepy—especially when a hot, young, scantily-dressed babe is in attendance. I don't change the channel, but I do frequently use these ads as a cue to hit the bathroom.

8. Orbitz game show.
The first one wasn't bad—I rather enjoyed the guy with kids climbing all over him, easily outperforming the non-Orbitz user. But then we had the career Mom with her carefully-balanced briefcase and pot-roast, one-handedly defeating the professional travel agent. (Ouch!) The latest go-round for this fake game show, though, pits a gay guy with his "lover" blowing in his ear, trying to distract him as he hunts for a "gay-friendly" venue online. What's next? A woman seeking a hotel that allows pets, as her schnauzer leg-humps her? Once is witty, but any more is half-witty.

7. Blue bodily fluids for diapers, panty liners, etc.
When did this convention come into being? From "sanitary napkins" to diapers for babies and incontinents, wetness is illustrated by an oily blue fluid. I cringe every time I see this—I don't know about you, man, but if I find blue stuff coming out of any of my openings (or my grandkid's, for that matter), I'm going straight to the ER, no stopping on the way to pick up a personal hygiene product!

6. Worried old people (Life insurance).
There they are, Mom and Dad sitting at the kitchen table, stressing out over their financial future. Are they talking about the forced surrender of 401K or IRA investments that starts when they reach 70? Are they worried about changes (real or imagined) to Social Security? NO! They're talking about how to get life insurance. I want to just take them aside and say, "Enjoy yourselves! Life insurance only pays out when you DIE, folks!" Maybe that's my own approach talking; I pre-paid for two cremations to happen for us when it's appropriate. That's the main application of "life insurance" for the elderly, isn't it? To pay for the funeral?

5. Mr. Brawny icing a cake for his "wife". (Link to NPR audio excerpt)
The new, "more sensitive" Brawny guy is just a little too twee for words—if I needed a visual referent for "the look" gay guys are supposed to recognize immediately, I'd turn to this ad. But that's not the reason Brawny-boy makes my list in such a high spot. It's the... um... package he displays as he walks toward the camera. Mrs. Brawny better watch out—"her" man is getting turned on by wiping a puppy's nose!

    The Bleachers ad, courtesy Dan's Blog

4. The Hank chant for Starbucks Doubleshot.
Let me say, I love this music. The original, "Rock and Roll Part 2", is a staple for stadium play now. What makes this ad TV-spam is the frequency of placement. It's everywhere, man! Starbucks seems to have purchased specific slots, too—I can channel-surf when it comes on, and fly by ten or more stations before I find one that isn't playing it. And how about a cheer for a gal? Even better, what happens when Hank and, say, Jan, both show up for that interview with competing bleachers?

3. Gotta Go Right Now! (Oxytrol)
When I was a kid, we called it "doing a rain dance," that jumpy, legs-squeezed twitch as we tried to control urinary urgency. It was cute when my kids did it, too—but seeing a grown woman do it on the TV makes me queasy. And why is it only women doing this dance? I know OAD (over-active bladder) and incontinence is just as much a guy problem.

2. Leptoprin.
When is a diet pill worth $153 a month? "NEVER," according to one reviewer in Consumer Reports. The drug, also known as Anorex and Leptopril, is touted in a variety of TV ads that promise immediate, noticeable weight loss, but only if the user is "seriously overweight." As a seriously overweight person, I'm aware that their target audience is exactly the sort of person who ought never to be taking over-the-counter diet pills. Even the milder Lipovarin, which got higher scores in the Consumer Reports article, is a questionable weight-control agent for anyone who is more than simply plump.

1. Bob and his "happy spouse" for Enzyte.
Oh, man! This guy is Quiznos' Baby Bob as an adult—the sleazy innuendo and cheesy grins are too much after the first 15-second spot. The problem is, they always seem to come in pairs, and if you've seen one Enzyte ad-duo in a program, I guarantee you'll see more. Frankly, if my spouse had such a greasy smile, I'd probably need some help in the bedroom too. But Bob isn't content with a quick go-round with his missus; he needs the acclaim of the neighbors and the fellas at his club as well. This guy needs Prozac more than he needs Enzyte.

That's my ten. Please excuse me now, I have a date for a game of "duelling puffs" with my air freshener. I plan to blame the dog.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Gotta Go ads are not for Oxytrol. They are for Detrol LA.

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