Saturday, May 27, 2006

Please don't buy my stuff

More anti-advertising:

A-1 Steak Sauce - ok, I'll give you the janitor running through 10 G's to urge the last drop of A-1 onto his steak. But the guy eating some other guy's steak right in a restaurant? It's just too realistically mean to be amusing. Pass.

Verizon - not entirely fair. They've had some good spots lately, but they made a serious misstep with the "We're hip kids filming a documentary" theme. First, it's been done recently (and more effectively) by Coke. Second, hip kids do not film documentaries about the great service people get from a multi-billion dollar phone company; they're much more likely to film documentaries about how those companies screw their customers, even if they have to invent facts to do it. Third, the Coke spots weren't really about Coke - they were about all the odd kids the hip kids "discovered" on their "documentary trip." Sure, the hip kids mostly discovered a lot of product placement for varieties of Coke - that is the whole point of advertising, after all - but the spots never just came out and said it, and that was the charm. Coke just "happened" to be in all these cool, offbeat places. Verizon utterly dropped this storytelling device, and exposed their own spots as shallow and crass.

(It doesn't help that the "Tax Tax Tax" spot has been running on a near-loop locally. It's the ad equivalent of Ali-Liston. Catchy, clear message... Verizon is over the barrel right now. James Earl Jones wept.)

ESPN Mobile - the first couple of these were cute, but again, we're beyond the point of saturation. Now the guy just comes off as a creepy loser: he won't go away, but he won't stop doing free ads for the very company that brushes him off. I picture Stuart Scott tied hand and foot in this guy's closet while he dances, Buffalo Bill style, chanting the SportsCenter theme.

Starburst - pretty much a chronic offender at this point, starting with the klepto spot, blazing into the final lap with the "What if you had no friends" spot, and sprinting through the tape with the latest, where someone drops his roll of candy into a tub of chemicals and his friend loses his arms trying to fish it out. Uh, if your arm's off, maybe the candy dissolved too? Maybe you can just fish 75¢ out from under your car seat and buy another roll? Then again, considering that the stuff is usually sharp enough to cut your gums to the bone if you bite down wrong, those guys may not have been as dumb as they looked.

Maybe next time I'll make up the difference and share some spots that I thought worked. At this time of night, though, we're moving to infomercial hell, so it will have to wait.

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