Friday, August 15, 2008

Advertising, it can really get to you . . .

By Lonnie Cruse

Back in the day, advertising was mostly in print form, mostly black and white with a few in color. Yes, there was some vocal advertising on the radio, mostly for soap, hence the name "soap opera." Or so I'm told. A friend of mine has one of those lovely fifties metal kitchen tables that are now back in fashion. It's been in her family since a relative purchased it new. She also has the advertisement for it. Antique advertisements are as popular and collectible as the antiques themselves, giving buyers the background on various items like furniture and dishes and the price of same when new. Boy howdy, things have changed with the advent of television.

I live in constant fear that some stranger on the street will approach me for money, and before I can stop myself I'll break into song. "Dial 1-800-877-CASH NOW . . . 877-CASH NOOOOWWWWWWW!" If that phone number doesn't ring a bell with you, dear reader, it's the number for the J. G. Wentworth Company. Cash now for your "structured settlement." Whatever that is. I laugh every time I see the ad, meaning the one with an opera company singing the song. Unfortunately the song sticks with me the rest of the day. I particularly like the fat lady with the ugly hat.

I adore the Gieko Gecko, hate the cave man. Sorry, but he's as homely as homemade mud pies. And he's a whiner.

If you want to know how many ads are shown during a television movie, just ask my hubby. He counts them and can even tell you how many have been aired twice during that particular show. Or more.

If you are on any kind of diet to lose weight, the worst thing you can do is watch television. Every other advertisement is for food. Usually fast food, guaranteed to add five pounds to your hips just by watching the ad. Sigh.

Need a new love interest? Just watch the ads for various dating services.

And if you happen have grown up in the fifties when televisions were just beginning to show up in store windows and the homes of the lucky few, you'd have bet the farm back then that some things would never be advertised on television. And you'd have lost. I won't name names. You know what those things are. Yick.

Celebrities we all thought were richer than Midas appear not to be since they are on TV hawking any and everything. I mean really, singer Robert Goulet crawling upside down on a ceiling, advertising snack bars to stave off the 3 P. M. slump?

And the music? Again, if you grew up in the fifties, you are likely as surprised as me to hear the old familiar tunes with new words, suggesting you buy something. Something you likely don't need. Or want.

And advertisers are getting smarter. They figured out that an awful lot of us sneak off during the commercials to get a drink or empty a kidney of the liquid we just consumed during the last commercial. So they increased the sound in order to reach us in the nether parts of our homes. They haven't yet figured out how to keep us from fast-forwarding through commercials when we tape a show, but how long can it be?

The birds in the Windex commercial are cruel, laughing at humans running into clean windows. The happy cows in the cheese commercial are funny. The gal who advertises Laughing Cow Cheese is a total hoot. So is the ad with famous people speaking for normal people. That may be Gieko as well. Whatever, but the Joan Rivers version even cracked up the guy doing the commercial with her.

Is there a point here? Ummm, lemme see. Yeah. I think so. Advertisers go to great lengths, some good, some not so good, to get us to spend our money. And in doing so they sneak their messages inside our brains, like science fiction worms crawling in, staking a claim, refusing to leave. The advertisers do it with sex. With food. With famous names. With whatever they can. But worst of all, they do it with music.

I have, with great difficulty, managed not to call J. G. Wentworth thus far, which is probably just as well since I don't have a structured settlement. But how long can it be before I can't resist picking up the phone? I know their number by heart. I can sing it. I know it better even that my best friend's phone number. After all, she's in speed dial. I only have to remember that one number for her. If I ever had to dial the whole number to reach her, area code included, I'd be in trouble. Sigh. Maybe J. G. Wentworth knows her number? I'll call them and ask. Meanwhile, I'm locking up my checkbook, credit cards, and cash. Maybe you should too?

What's your favorite television commercial? Least fave? Feel free to share. Or sing, if need be. You're among friends here.

13 comments:

Sheila Connolly said...

Will someone please explain to me what those Cialis people are doing sitting in his-and-hers bathtubs?

My biggest issue is those commercials that are beautifully made and enjoyable, but you haven't a clue what they're selling. Somebody wasted a lot of money there.

Pinxter said...

My favorite commercial is the Oreo commercial of the dad and son. They share an oreo and at the end, Dad says, "Goodnight, son." And the son replies, "Good morning, Dad." My heart weeps every time it's on.

The one I hate with passion is the one that claims, "...it will make that certain male part of you, larger!" the actress smiles and preens. Eeeoooo.

Speaking of channel surfing: something else I've noticed recently is that every channel has a commercial at the same time. Very irritating, I can't find a good station to be on during the tacky commercials of another.

Clair Dickson said...

Comcast commercials. Not only are they really stupid, they completely contradict the actual service that I'm paying to recieve from them...

We use 'comcastic' as an antonym for fantastic.

Sandra Parshall said...

I hate the cave men (aren't there two of them, or am I thinking the failed effort to turn a stupid idea into an even more stupid sitcom?. I have to admit I'm getting pretty tired of that silly gecko. He's suffering from overexposure. I loved the Taco Bell chihuahua, but he's moved on to a film career. Any commercial with cats in it grabs my attention instantly. If all advertisers put cats in their ads, we'd go bankrupt on my impulse purchases.

What happened to those commercials with jingles that camped in your head for months and drove you nuts? I'm not hoping for their return, mind you, just commenting that jingles seem to be out of fashion.

The Europeans excel at humorous ads. American ads are often overly serious (companies don't want people laughing at their products), and the few examples of "humor" (as in the caveman ads)tend to be heavy-handed.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Has anyone seen the commercial for--I think it's a bank. It has two little kids talking ,and there's some confusion about "spinach" and "Spanish"?

I can't explain it, I'm afraid. And if I tried to describe or transcribe it, it wouldn't be funny. And I have no idea what it has to do with banks. And still-- it is hilarious.

Anyone??

Dina said...

It's funny your should post this today. My local radio station was doing sounds on things like this. They would play a sound and asked who it was and I got almost all of them, all because I hear it ALL the time on Tv. Recently there has been a car ad on Tv, funny I can't think of who though, but it gets good gas mileage, so everytime it goes to the gas station for something other than gas, the pump does something to the car. I love the one that un-attached the trailer with the boat and it starts to roll back.

jwhit said...

Is that where the cavemen came from! We get that here in Australia on very late night TV. I watch it when I've stayed up way past my bedtime and am playing computer games. It's very weird.

When it comes to commercials (adverts we call them here), we have the Windex one, only it's made with our type of magpies. I think it's hysterical! But one I bet you don't have is for an Australian bank that hires a US marketing firm to create an ad campaign for the bank. There is a series of them, each with their own dig at the silliness of the ideas. In one, they introduce a piggy bank that is a transformer robot. It catches fire. In another, they suggest a line about saving for retirement so you can move to your own little island -- and they show a map of New Zealand, and all the examples of a happy retirement have sheep in them. Oh, and the marketing guy says it would be like having your own little Florida. Cracks me up!

Lonnie, I thought you might take this topic into: how writers can learn from short sharp TV ads. Any truth in that? Or are they all just Darren Stevens [Bewitched] real life annoyances?

Lonnie Cruse said...

Wow, great comments everybody! Thanks. Oh, and I forgot to mention the ads where someone is running through a field of lovely flowers with soft music in the background and a calm voice explaining that taking this or that medicine can cause sterility, paranoia, weight gain, and/or death. Sigh.

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