Skip

July 18, 2002
6:39 AM   Subscribe

I was walking past a McDonald's on my way to work this morning, and I noticed a remarkable advertisement in the window. It was a poster of a tiny baby's hand grasping a much larger adult hand, with text at the bottom that asked: "When will she have her first french fry?" (Sorry, I can't find it duplicated online.) I'm not necessarily anti-McDonald's, or even anti-fastfood--although I am pro-slowfood--but this poster turned my stomach. Advertisements have a long history of backfiring, including pop-up ads, pharmaceutical ads, online political ads, automobile ads, and even a recently discussed computer ad. Have you seen any ads recently that didn't exactly have the intended effect? What were the ad people thinking?
posted by monju_bosatsu (105 comments total)

 
Mmm.... Fries...
posted by delmoi at 6:44 AM on July 18, 2002


they weren't thinking they did what the client asked them to do.
posted by dabitch at 6:48 AM on July 18, 2002


"Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?"
From: Standup and Win on SNL
posted by ColdChef at 6:50 AM on July 18, 2002


McDonalds: not evil, just amoral capitalism.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:51 AM on July 18, 2002


And the McDonald's ad was probably meant for people like my sister, who dressed my niece up as McDonald's Brand French Fries for Halloween last year.

Yes, I know, I know...
posted by ColdChef at 6:52 AM on July 18, 2002


What SUV was being advertised for a short while with spots of housewives actually competing for parking spaces in a parking lot? Those didn't last too long - right up until the client realized that the spots were actually reinforcing one of the biggest negative stereotypes of the vehicles. Dumb.
posted by yhbc at 6:54 AM on July 18, 2002


Monju - "What were they thinking" is the appropriate response for those of us skeptical of the fast food industry to begin with. But this is not the case for folks - many of them poor and time-strapped - who have been branded, so to speak, as frequent (often daily!) fast food consumers. If you try to hook a child to a product, you will have a greater success rate at 6 years of age than 12 years of age, and an even greater success rate at 6 months. You are trying to create DAILY brand loyalty. (A Washington Post story today illustrated the near riot that ensued when loyal Starbucks customers couldn't get their Frappucino fix because of a coupon hoax.)

This is certainly sickening, but hell, it is smart advertising. Capitalism! Gotta love it.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:04 AM on July 18, 2002


I think those pseudo-orgasmic "Herbal Essences" hair commericals are the most obnoxious ads in history. I'm not offended by the content -- for me the cardinal sin is that they aren't even funny. There are a lot of funny ways to depict people having a shampoo-induced orgasm, but they have yet to find one (although SNL did manage to find one when they had a take-off with Will Ferrell having a "male" orgasm -- contorted faces and all. Now that was funny).
posted by pardonyou? at 7:08 AM on July 18, 2002


I loathe fast food commercials that equate their products with family values and whatnot. It's just so absolutely absurd.

I mean, why is McDonald's better at bringing families together than a pizza place? Or a Chinese restaurant? Or, um, a park?

But I guess that's what advertising is all about, eh?
posted by Tin Man at 7:15 AM on July 18, 2002


I've actually seen an ad that somewhat left me wondering whether it was for or against the subject--here it is:

I live near detroit and drive in occasionally, and on the way there's a billboard that says "You think you've won in the Windsor casinos until you hit the customs office" and it shows a large stack of canadian money on the left side, and a stack of $100 US bills on the right side, but both are very comparable.

I've been assuming that it means, you may win a lot in windsor, but you lose it all in the exchange, but if so, why are the piles so similar sized? Oh well, that's bugged me every time I've driven past.
posted by statusquo at 7:16 AM on July 18, 2002


I thought of another current pet peeve -- the commercials for some financial/investing company where an employee talks about the client's dream of retiring in France, or sending his daughter to Juliard, and says something pretentious like: "This was not my dream to realize, but I embraced it as if it were my own." Give me an f'ing break.

And Tin Man, I hate any commercial that tries to suggest that their product is associated with "family values," not just fast food.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:28 AM on July 18, 2002


Advertising is supposed to reach as many people as possible, and let's face it most people in any given community are unable to spot shameless manipulation. How do you think the US has ended up with a two-party system for so long?
posted by clevershark at 7:29 AM on July 18, 2002


One ad that sticks in my mind as "didn't exactly have the intended effect" is the original movie theatre teaser for the film Free Willy. A movie theatre full of a couple hundred teenagers (mostly boys), a black screen, white lettering, and a booming voice that announced

"Coming Soon, to a Theatre near you....


.... Free Willy!"

Well, you can imagine the laugh it got.
posted by anastasiav at 7:39 AM on July 18, 2002


Prince Valium said:If you try to hook a child to a product, you will have a greater success rate at 6 years of age than 12 years of age, and an even greater success rate at 6 months.

I agree, but the problem is, this ad wasn't trying to target children! It was aimed at parents, who--at least in theory--should be more interested in watching out for the health of their child. If they're aiming at hooking children, it seems to me that they would be better off sticking with the Ronald commercials and promoting their happy meals. Even if the ad people acknowledge that this ad is just trying to get kids hooked, I think it does a poor job of that.

Instead, I think that ad people were trying to appeal to some sort of perverse nostalgia. The problem is that no one in there right mind actually gets nostalgic about McDonald's.

"Think back, and remember the glorious days of your youth when you ate nothing but french fries and greasy McD's hamburgers. Don't you want your children to have that experience?" Or this: "Your first words, your first steps, your first bike, your first kiss, your first french fry. McDonalds, marking the important events in everyone's life."

Oh, HELL no.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:43 AM on July 18, 2002


Coors "Here's to Twins" ad ... after the Portland Media Jammers (sound like a basketball team?) got ahold of it...
posted by SpecialK at 7:45 AM on July 18, 2002


The other day, during a baseball game on Fox here in Boston, I saw an ad for Ortho Tri-cyclen, the birth control pill...first, I thought it odd because I had never seen a television ad for a birth control pill before...but the ad itself was weirder (well, rather just kind of...pushing some sort of agenda, perhaps):

The ad is basically a montage of happy couples, cuddling, smiling, laughing...being all couple-y. As we are shown each couple, a caption appears beneath each saying something to the effect of "Ronnie and Sylvia, Married 2 years, 5 months" or "James and Joanne, Married 1 year." Each couple, they point out, has been married, under the pretense that you can use Ortho Tri-cyclen "until you are ready to have kids."

God forbid you use it if you aren't married.

I dunno. Just struck me as weird.
posted by tpl1212 at 7:54 AM on July 18, 2002


the original movie theatre teaser for the film Free Willy
Yeah - I was still mad that the sequel wasn't called

Free Willy 2: More Willy
posted by ao4047 at 7:56 AM on July 18, 2002


Monju, the ad is aimed at the parents (who met Ronald in the seventies, and liked him better than the Burger King magician) - to make *them* target their children. Clever, innit?

yes in theory parents should be more interested in their childrens health. Watching my half american nephew grow up on french fries and refuse any other food, I belive that the parents have either a hard time shouting over the ads, or they don't see whats so bad about a McD diet.
posted by dabitch at 7:57 AM on July 18, 2002


I know this experience doesn't fit into Mefi-world (what does?), but even though they are "evil capitalist pigs" - quite a few families spend the evening talking over Happy Meals and Big Macs. Take a look around your neighborhood McDonalds (I know it hurts, but just take a peek, I promise your soul will stay intact and your 'indie' cred is safe with me) and you will see families chomping down on unhealthy food, chatting about their day. The Arches are a gathering place, and it's not totally loony to think they would tap into that in their ads.
posted by owillis at 7:58 AM on July 18, 2002


SpecialK - I heartily approve of culturejamming any advertisement, but the 'discourse' on the message board below the pic is a prime example of why the indymedia crowd tends to give me the hives.
posted by GriffX at 8:01 AM on July 18, 2002


*DISCLAIMER* My kid has never eaten a "Happy Meal."

Indeed, I have been trying to teach him that all those ads in the middle of his cartoon are trying to get him (well, me) to buy stuff he doesn't need, that the neon colored yogurt is not nearly as good as the juice sweetened stuff I buy, that the "balanced breakfast" in the ad would be balanced without the hypersweetened cereal, and that some if not most of those toys are not nearly as fun as they look on the teevee. Interestingly, most of the ads are for food. Gee, could this possibly have anything to do with childhood obesity rates? In the end, parents must bear responsibility for what things thier children consume before they have money to spend on thier own.

As for myself, I see many ads that leave me saying "What am I supposed to do now?" Many leave me wondering if i'm supposed to buy something, think a particular way, or just "remember X Brand" next time I need a Widget. Financial services ads are particularly notable about that. Boeing does an ad of nebulous purpose. I think I'm supposed to invest in them after seeing it, because I'm certainly not in the market for an airplane.
posted by ilsa at 8:01 AM on July 18, 2002


this ad wasn't trying to target children! It was aimed at parents, who--at least in theory--should be more interested in watching out for the health of their child.

In theory, yes. But the "nag factor" is a documented phenomenon. Perhaps a child as young as the one in the McDonalds ad is still too small to react in such a way, but I would think that most two-year-olds who have been exposed to the suburban landscape have already begun to recognize the McDonalds corporate symbols and the visual imagery of McDonalds' food and packaging. It's not a giant leap from symbol recognition to desiring a product in an advertisement. Never underestimate the subconscious.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:04 AM on July 18, 2002


I saw an ad for Ortho Tri-cyclen, the birth control pill...

Ahh, yes, the "weird Republican birth control ad" as it is known in our household. I can't understand the motive of that company, unless they are politically conservative or have a financial interest in the forthcoming condoms-for-gigolos commercials.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:07 AM on July 18, 2002


owillis: Take a look around your neighborhood McDonalds [...] and you will see families chomping down on unhealthy food, chatting about their day.

I wonder if there are statistics on how people get their McDonalds - the split between eat-in, drive-thru, and takeout. I imagine it's somewhere around 30/60/10. For every happy family gathering, there's gotta be quite a few people who eat alone, buy food only for their kids but not for themselves, or some other permutation of circumstance which doesn't really benefit any social good.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:15 AM on July 18, 2002


McDonald's have had a TV ad with the same tagline for a few months I think: a warm, soft-focus, father & child affair that ends up being about french fries (and narrated by an almost-recognizable voice--maybe Roz from Frasier?).

As for failed campaigns, I don’t know for certain but it doesn’t seem as if UPS is all about the brown anymore.

On a possibly unrelated note, I feel as if I should turn the TV off for a while.

Gee, could this possibly have anything to do with childhood obesity rates?

Impossible. Oh, wait...
posted by sherman at 8:16 AM on July 18, 2002


97.32% of people living in industrialized countries have eaten french fries.* Is it really that outrageous to ask what age someone will eat their first?

*Source: My own best guess
posted by Trampas at 8:31 AM on July 18, 2002


My least favorites are those Mitsubishi ads that are directed at my age group (18 to 25-year-olds) with people singing horrible songs in cars together. There's one where this girl with a really stupid beret is dancing to this obnoxious computer-voiced te chno song that makes me feel like puking every time I see it. Or at least flipping out and cutting off heads.

I will never buy a Mitsubishi. Well, that is, If I ever learn how to drive, I'll never buy one.

Ads like that always make me think how funny it is that we're the only species that, when embarassed, all of our hairs stand on end.
posted by interrobang at 8:33 AM on July 18, 2002


I know this experience doesn't fit into Mefi-world (what does?)

Excellent discussion technique - belittle the community before making your point. 14,000+ MeFites and we all think the same. Matt IS Mr Mind Control. [Theramin noises]

Take a look around your neighborhood McDonalds [...] and you will see families chomping down on unhealthy food, chatting about their day.

Brings a tear to the eye. I'm glad for them because before McDonald's, families never used to sit down & eat & talk together...

ilsa: Good for you (& your youngster). Taking the time &, I'd imagine, considerable effort to explain everytning to your child should be commended. I'm all for responsible parents.
posted by i_cola at 8:39 AM on July 18, 2002


walked past a Gap the other day, and one of the window presentations was a set of 5 or 6 panels, with the same (but for size) cotton shirt and khaki pants mounted on each of them, and labelled "age 5", "age 6" ... "age 10" etc.

for some reason I found this truly disturbing.
posted by dorian at 8:42 AM on July 18, 2002


Going along with this...I *really* can't stand Dodge's new-ish slogan that I have heard on some radio ads and promotional spots:

"If you're not living life on the edge, you're just taking up space."

Ummm, ***k you very much, Dodge. I guess if I don't buy myself a champagne Dodge Stratus with the "Peter Cetera option package," I should just throw myself off a bridge.
posted by tpl1212 at 8:43 AM on July 18, 2002


Interrobang:

Some of those Mitsubishi ads have some terrific(and admirably obscure) songs in them: like "Ooh La La" by the Faces, "20th Century Boy" by T-Rex and "Start the Commotion" by The Wiseguys. i don't like using rock music to shill and I don't much care for Mitsubishi vehicles, but whoever is picking the tunes over there has excellent taste.
posted by jonmc at 8:45 AM on July 18, 2002


Is there really a Peter Cetera option package? Is it only available in Chicago?
posted by ColdChef at 8:47 AM on July 18, 2002


From the Mitsubishi commercial: In the "One Week" commercial, the guy driving the car with the two guys in it is this month's cover boy for "Genre" magazine. His name is Adrian Armas. He was a backup dancer for Michael Jackson and Britney Spears and is featured in the new movie Showboy.
posted by ColdChef at 8:53 AM on July 18, 2002


Sherman, I'm glad someone else saw the commercial for the McD's "first fry" campaign. My husband and I got suckered in on the father and baby imagery. We thought it was going to be a life insurance, long distance phone service, or a Hallmark commercial. When the golden arches flashed with the "When will she have her first fry?" question it was like someone slapped us. We shut the tube off for the night.

I wasn't a McD's fan to start with and that commercial just added to it.
posted by onhazier at 8:56 AM on July 18, 2002


Coldchef - I think there is a Peter Cetera option package. Not too many added features, just rather than "dinging" when you leave your lights on, it quietly croons "Glory of Love," and similar to the late 70's Firebirds, there's a big airbrushed picture of Cetera's face on the hood....
posted by tpl1212 at 8:57 AM on July 18, 2002


I think the Orth-Tri-Cyclin ads are actually very effective at conveying their message, which is "the Pill is the birth control of choice for educated, committed couples who might want to have children sometime soon." Marriage is just a nice way to short-hand that.

Marketers of the Pill have to simultaneously counter and yet not public undermine the overwhelming public health / education emphasis on condoms as primary safe sex tool and long-term methods such as IUDs and hormone shots as the secondary safe sex tool.

The public health people are deathly afraid of the Pill because (a) their primary audience of the young and/or irresponsible and/or impulsive women can't be counted upon to use the Pill with the daily fidelity it requires and (b) it doesn't provide any HIV / STD protection.

Your typical public health clinic, or even private practioner gynecologist, is quite hesitant to prescribe the Pill to women whom they don't deem likely to be highly compliant (due to education, age, and stabilty of circumststances) and in monogamous relationships.
posted by MattD at 9:01 AM on July 18, 2002


and similar to the late 70's Firebirds, there's a big airbrushed picture of Cetera's face on the hood....
Ah. So it's "theft-proof" as well. Great feature.
posted by ColdChef at 9:07 AM on July 18, 2002


"Brown says eat more pie."

Man, I LOVE that commercial.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:08 AM on July 18, 2002


Brown doesn't say that.
posted by delapohl at 9:11 AM on July 18, 2002


Commercial I love: the one where the baby stops the pipe leak by covering it with his diaper. Nekkid baby ass is funny.
posted by ColdChef at 9:12 AM on July 18, 2002


hey, i just noticed that it's ColdChef, not ColdChief.
posted by tolkhan at 9:17 AM on July 18, 2002


Far weirder than the Ortho-Tricyclen ads are the ones for pregnancy tests. The ones shown during "family" shows inevitably show women thrilled to pieces to discover they're pregnant. But the ones on late-night TV are very ambiguous; you never know whether the test was positive or negative, just that "it's such a relief to know."
posted by nance at 9:17 AM on July 18, 2002


There's an ad for Subway running around here that's so completely mean-spirited that it's even made me reconsider my patronage of the place.

It starts out with this "hipster" and his two friends pulling up to a burger place drive-through and harassing the poor guy working there about what his restaurant doesn't have. After not ordering anything, they then pull off with the line, "You're not even on the radar screen" and proceed to their local Subway. The usual yadda about how wonderful the sandwiches are follow, and the commercial ends with the hipster saying, "You think I made the guy cry?"

What were the ad people thinking, indeed.
posted by digital_insomnia at 9:24 AM on July 18, 2002


Griff - Me too, but that was the best picture and reference I could find on short notice.
posted by SpecialK at 9:26 AM on July 18, 2002


Those Golden Arches make my not-yet-two-year-old's eyes light up, and she's never even been in a McDonald's. Something magical about that big yellow glowing M. So far she just uses it as another opportunity to say, "M! Mommy!" But one day....
posted by delapohl at 9:34 AM on July 18, 2002


There's an ad for Subway running around here that's so completely mean-spirited that it's even made me reconsider my patronage of the place.

I've seen this once, and have been waiting to see it again just to make sure I hadn't lost my fucking mind. Right up there with Taco Bell's recent campaign featuring the jerkass who ripped off hotel robes and hectored service sector workers to proclaim what a great deal they could get for unidentifiable meat.

Best ads out there right now: Mike's Hard Lemonade/Iced Tea.
posted by Skot at 9:43 AM on July 18, 2002


...
posted by i_cola at 9:47 AM on July 18, 2002


The Ads where kids call themselves out as being murderers and terrorists for smoking a joint or whatever are the most obnoxious propaganda I've ever seen.
posted by Mack Twain at 9:47 AM on July 18, 2002


Similar to the "Soccer Moms battling for limited parking" ad is the ad for the Lincoln Navigator (or some similarly over-designed SUV). Two women leave the grocery store when *gasp* it begins to rain! One lucky lady has a giant Lincoln Navigator to run to. She uses the keyless entry to unlock it, pops out a little running board to aid her in climbing into the massive cab, then splashes safely through one of those dangerous parking lot puddles, dry, happy, and on her way home.

Meanwhile, the poor schlub with some inferior brand of SUV struggles to open her door, her and her groceries getting soaked. We can only assume that when (if!) she finally manages to ger her car unlocked and started, she will be killed instantly attempting to cross the puddle in the parking lot.

The message? It takes a 38-50k car to stay dry when you run your errands, or you will end up the wet laughing stock of the other women in the grocery store parking lot.

The secret message? You'll never use this fancy SUV offroad, but that's okay because parking lot puddles justify the expense of the car and the extra gas you consume and the pollution you produce. It's okay! You really are using it to it's full capacity!
posted by jennyb at 9:49 AM on July 18, 2002


I really hated the Twix "Two for me, none for you" ads, but haven't seen them in a while; the idiot-guy Slim Jim ads are just as irritating.

I can't stand the Glade 'extra outlet' commercial for an air freshener that plugs into the wall and has an outlet on it so you can still plug in your lamp. IT'S NOT AN EXTRA OUTLET! It's just an outlet to replace the one being taken up spewing stink chemicals into the air!

AT&T has ads running on cable every five minutes about how anyone who gets satellite can't get local channels and has to pay for reception on more than one TV. I got satellite recently, and I get local channels for free; I have to pay extra for satellite reception on a second TV, but it's the same with digital cable--AT&T will provide only one set-top box; you have to pay for an extra one. The best thing: since I got satellite I haven't seen a single AT&T cable commercial.
posted by troybob at 9:49 AM on July 18, 2002


Free Willy? Frite Willy.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:01 AM on July 18, 2002


...pops out a little running board to aid her in climbing into the massive cab...

Really? Wow. Somehow it's easier to wrap my brain around the Peter Cetera option.
posted by delapohl at 10:06 AM on July 18, 2002


i'm liking the nike presto ads.
posted by moz at 10:07 AM on July 18, 2002


I still want to know why Kobe Bryant is the spokesperson for Nutella. Is there some secret ingredient in the chocolate-hazelnut spread that provides professional basketball players with that extra edge during the game?

Gatorade? No thanks! Pass me the croissants and Nutella!
posted by Danelope at 10:08 AM on July 18, 2002


I rememer this one billboard for a new krystal's hambuger, I think it had bacon on it or something, and the tag line was, "a vegetarian's worst nightmare."

as a vegetarian, I had to disagree! I rather think a vegetarian's worst nightmare is a barely alive cow attached to a conveyor, blood pouring out of its slit throat, on its way up the assembly line where hopefully it will be dead before it's ground up into a meal.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:14 AM on July 18, 2002


how about the stupid Jeep ad that shows how SUVs are much faster at getting up a mountain than a poor pathetic helicopter? or the Ford ad which mocks that very same Jeep ad (but not for the right/obvious reasons, guh!).

better luck next time, helicopter pilot!
posted by dorian at 10:15 AM on July 18, 2002


but this poster turned my stomach

If you really want some scary stuff, you should read Fast Food Nation. There is some discussion of fast food marketing and the industry's rabid desire to establish a cradle to grave presence of their products in people's lives, and the gains they've made to get themselves into schools, etc.
posted by holycola at 10:16 AM on July 18, 2002


Posted by Holycola does indeed sound like a terrifying read.
posted by Skot at 10:18 AM on July 18, 2002


Somebody mentioned a Coors ad and it reminded me of that one a few years ago where these frat guys were for some reason giants. They were running around playing frisbee or something in the pristine Colorado mountains. All I could think about was how evil it seemed, giant idiots running around crushing the environment, drinking beers and tossing their giant Coors cans into the streams.

Um, Coors? No thanks.
posted by jeremias at 10:20 AM on July 18, 2002


Have you seen any ads recently that didn't exactly have the intended effect.

The drugs=terrorism propaganda spots.

The drug trade generates such fat profits for criminals because of the drug war. Prohibition inflates the profit margin, all of which goes to people willing to do business by breaking the law.

These spots cracked me up when I saw them during the Super Bowl. Is this obvious to anyone else, or do other people actually buy this line of bullshit?
posted by Dirjy at 10:28 AM on July 18, 2002


In a similar vein, August W. Busch VI or whatever comes on the screen and talks earnestly and stoically about handcrafting and aging beer. I find myself yelling at him, "DUDE, IT'S BUDWEISER."
posted by PrinceValium at 10:28 AM on July 18, 2002


97.32% of people living in industrialized countries have eaten french fries. Is it really that outrageous to ask what age someone will eat their first?

The majority gets up to all kinds of things. What else will you ask? When's the little one going to have his/her first wank? Joint? Alcohol-induced vomiting session?
posted by Summer at 10:34 AM on July 18, 2002


Remember this Franklin Mint-esque statue of a tot eating French Fries, titled "Eric's First Fries"? The hell?

The text is unbelievable:

"With a smile on his face and a sparkle in his baby blue eyes, "Eric" is having the time of his life. He's enjoying his very first order of delicious french fries with Mom and Dad at McDonald's. What fun it is to nibble them one at a time to make them last! "Eric" is the first issue in the Treats for Tots doll collection by world-renowned doll artist Yolanda Bello, featuring happy babies enjoying McDonald's treats for the first time. He's a superbly crafted fine-porcelain collectible doll from McMemories � the Official McDonald's Collectibles Club. He comes with cotton blend romper and sunhat � and an order of "french fries." Relive a child's joy with "Eric." Outstanding value at only $59.95, fully guaranteed. Order today."
posted by GaelFC at 10:41 AM on July 18, 2002


The ads for some credit card or bank or something where the character asks, "Who's getting my money?" and then the scene shifts to orangutans in business suits. WTH were they thinking? This has to be a case where the president of the bank pounded on the desk and yelled at the advertising folks, "There's gotta be monkeys in suits! Goddammit, I love monkeys in suits!"

OTOH, the VW ad with the Spy song frustrates me because I don't know how the story ends -- who gets the girl? Is the VW driver just a stalker? Why is he in a tux in the first place? Why can't I find the CD with the song on it
posted by joaquim at 10:42 AM on July 18, 2002


Joaquim - I think it's a takeoff on The Graduate.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:48 AM on July 18, 2002


Being a Giants fan, I cringe every time I see the "Say Hey, come out and play" San Francisco Giants TV ads. Especially when compared to the more sophisticated Oakland A's ads.
posted by culberjo at 10:48 AM on July 18, 2002


digital_insomnia: I've seen the ad several times and each time I can't believe it. somehow it always reminds me of the Mr. Show scene where they made ads just to see how many curse words they could get in (particularly the burger spot where everyone just starts swearing their heads off about how good the burger is). Of course, I don't know why those 2 are linked in my head, but they are.
posted by rodz at 10:52 AM on July 18, 2002


I always get steamed by Pacific Bell/SBC's deceptive DSL ads, which try to get you to believe that cable internet will bog down because your neighbors are downloading MP3's. In fact, around here, cable internet at its slowest leaves (similarly priced) DSL in the dust.
posted by Zurishaddai at 10:55 AM on July 18, 2002


joaquim, as for the song, it's called "One Million Miles Away" by a guy named "J. Ralph." If you go to his website you can hear the song. It's a good song, and I like that commercial -- actual ambiguity. What a concept! What it has to do with Volkswagons, though, I'll never know.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:11 AM on July 18, 2002


Zurishaddai: DSL speed and pricing is directly related to how many wire feet you are from a magical phone company building called the "C.O.". Cable is not. Many places, availability is an either/or affair, so you are actually at an advantage if you could have your choice.

My apologies to those who know this already.

Oh, and I actually like the ambiguous VW ads. I also like the Ameritrade Bull-and-Bear ads, although they don't cause me to run out and open a brokerage account with them.
posted by ilsa at 11:14 AM on July 18, 2002


I still want to know why Kobe Bryant is the spokesperson for Nutella.

If I remember correctly, Bryant grew up in Europe--Italy, I think (though he went to High School, at least, in the US). So Nutella kind of makes sense: he might be a genuine devotee of the product.

McDonald's have had a TV ad with the same tagline for a few months I think: a warm, soft-focus, father & child affair that ends up being about french fries...

The background music in that ad is "New Slang", by The Shins. It's a brilliant song from their very good 2001 album Oh, Inverted World. I was completely taken aback by that commercial--there are few things more aesthetically jarring than realizing that the indie band you're really into is hawking McDonalds.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:19 AM on July 18, 2002


If you really want some scary stuff, you should read Fast Food Nation.

Read it... I wasn't scared by anything in it. Now, if Clive Barker had written it...
posted by kindall at 11:54 AM on July 18, 2002


And Tin Man, I hate any commercial that tries to suggest that their product is associated with "family values," not just fast food.

Particularly ads for political candidates.


GaelFC, that's simply heinous. Good find!
posted by rushmc at 12:07 PM on July 18, 2002


Argh... you sleep in one day, and you miss a chance to comment on all sorts of things.

I gotta say, not having a TV now, I'm not familiar with some of the newest ads, but when I was reading about them I got some sick/hilarious ideas.

Like...

As we are shown each couple, a caption appears beneath each saying something to the effect of "Ronnie and Sylvia, Married 2 years, 5 months" or "James and Joanne, Married 1 year."

Followed by "Joe and Meredith, Met at a frat party 2 weeks ago." "Sheena, crack whore whose customers don't like using condoms."

Skot-- I read Fast Food Nation last spring. I haven't eaten fast food since then-- there's some nasty shit going on there, both in the culture it creates and the food itself.

Dirjy-- I was at a Super Bowl party when those commercials aired. When the "If you use drugs you're supporting terrorists" line came on I yelled back at the TV, "That wouldn't be the case if they were legal!" It got a few laughs, but I don't think anyone else took it seriously. Maybe because my friends aren't really into drugs so much, and don't really care about things like the War on Drugs if it doesn't affect them.

Frankly, I'd like all these commercials to start using bad music in their spots again. I listen to good music, and I don't want to throw on my Faces, or T. Rex, or Nick Drake (well... too late) CD and think, "Hey, this is the song on that commercial."

So, in conclusion, advertising and fast food are two of my least favorite things.
posted by nath at 12:15 PM on July 18, 2002


I liked when Kareem Abdul Jabbar was pimping Coors Beer even though he's a strong muslim and he doesn't drink beer. Here's a good take on it here. I remember that he was referred to as Kareem Abdul-Ja-Beer at the time.
posted by jonah at 12:29 PM on July 18, 2002


The current Old El Paso singing cowboy and horse commercial with the dancing Mom and kids bugs me. "One pound of hamburger sits in the fridge..."

Aside from current commercials; what are some memorable past commercials for you? The goofy guy dancing and singing "Nacho, Nacho Man...I wanna be a Nacho Man" to the tune of "Macho Man" by The Village People sticks in my mind. It's another Old El Paso commercial. I loved the one of a baby in a walker zooming around the house to the tune of "The Sabre Dance" by Aram Iljic Khachaturian (sound clip available)
posted by onhazier at 12:30 PM on July 18, 2002


Great rebuttal to the whole "I helped terrorists by buying drugs" ads: Mark Fiore's animated bit about oil addiction.

I've always been creeped out by the series of Gatorade ads that showed people sweating funky-colored perspiration while asking "Is it in you?".

They always made me think of Ebola - after reading the Hot Zone and hearing about how people "crash and bleed out" from all bodily orifices, including sweating blood, the idea of sweating anything other than clear seemed, uh, gross.

I confess that I take my child to McDonald's. Not all the time, mind you. And I valiantly protect her from the evil of their food by eating up anything she won't have. (Usually at least half of her Happy Meal). I laughed out loud when I saw the ads with the parents who admit to stealing fries from their kids. :)

She's three and really *really* digs the Playplaces. We've got some pretty cool ones around here. The attractions of the fries, burgers, and even Happy Meal toys pale in comparison to the mighty Habitrail and Slide! One of the McD's near us even has a free videogame kiosk in their play area.

The only thing that sucks about the playground is when there are bigger kids that intimidate her in the Habitrail and I have to go in and rescue her. I'm not as little or nimble as I used to be...
posted by beth at 12:47 PM on July 18, 2002


Heh, I don't suppose you have this McDonalds billboard that has just appeared all over Austria in the USA, do you?
Yes, it's pretty evil when you think about it, but I absolutely love it.
I think the McD TV spots are quite good over here most of time. They're always purpously funny -- sometimes pretty silly, but certainly not equating family values with fast food in ads.

Also, the "getting an orgasm using a shampoo" thing reminded me of two recent Austrian ads: one for a shoe company (that has been notorious for its sometimes artistic, sometimes controversial but always attention-getting ads for over 20 years - here's their most recent one), and one for a fund by a bank, which was pulled after a public outcry - it showed a woman, in one scene in a bar, in another in an office, getting an orgasm just because someone mentioned the name of this fund.
posted by c3o at 12:53 PM on July 18, 2002


Most of you fail to recognize that there is value in advertising. Without it, how would we know what is available? Word of mouth? Sorry folks, I'll take ads over that any day.

Ah, but it is manipulative! you cry. I don't think it is. I think many people see advertising for what it is - information - and realize that a company isn't nearly as cynical as we are. McDonald's truly believes it is a gathering place for families. Lincoln honestly believes it is offering more value to the customer with keyless entry SUVs with the extras. And they are correct in believing that, because it's true.

We are a society and culture based on choices, and advertising informs us of these. Each company wants to tell us why its product is the better choice, and we evaluate that information and decide.

To cry "foul" against the company because you believe some people evaluated poorly or made a wrong choice isn't valid to me.
posted by rocketman at 12:55 PM on July 18, 2002


Rocketman, you were born yesterday, right?

Companies don't spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns to inform. Ad campaigns are designed to entice (at best) or coerce (at worst) the public into buying a product. Mature, educated and thoughtful consumers are least susceptible precisely because they are most cynical and most likely to apply critical thinking to ad messages. Unfortuneately, the "center of mass" of disposable income is shifting to an increasingly younger more gullible demographic and this is resulting in ad campaigns that are stupefying to those of us who think before we buy.
posted by plaino at 1:08 PM on July 18, 2002


The next McDonald's campaign.
posted by Dean King at 1:10 PM on July 18, 2002


Holy crap, c3o, that is just wrong!

"McDonald's. Like mother's milk."
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:17 PM on July 18, 2002


The fries commercial is innocuous, but it's better than the frightening "Get Happy" commercials they used to show during kids shows. Does anybody know those? Tripping Ronald says "Get Happy" at the end like a serial killer. I wanted to point it out to friends but it must have gotten pulled pretty fast.
posted by mblandi at 1:21 PM on July 18, 2002


Companies don't spend millions of dollars on ad campaigns to inform.

Yes, they do. I didn't say it was unbiased information. But the purpose of advertising is to deliver information. You seem to think it's unthinkable that a company would portray itself in a favorable light. Like you've never self-promoted.

I take it you've never worked in advertising. Smirking men in suits don't sit around a table lit with a bare bulb hanging overhead, rubbing their hands while scheming how to subvert people into caving to their master plan.

shifting to an increasingly younger more gullible demographic

Won't somebody please think about the children!?
People will just become ad-savvy at a younger age.
posted by rocketman at 1:26 PM on July 18, 2002


monju_bosatsu:
The difference is that nobody even thinks they actually mean that. It's just taken as a cute joke.
You also have to see it in context of what Europeans, or at least people in the German speaking countries, have come to expect from McD ads: a laugh.
Here are two more of the same campaign to demonstrate its innocence (the second one being a modified version of the "this seat reserved for the disabled, elderly and mothers with children"-sign in Viennese public transportation.)
The campaign before that was a series of billboards with a headline like "Bush is advertising McDonald's" and then a photo of an actual bush beneath it (using an apropriate English example here - it was with German celebrities' names and words of course).
posted by c3o at 1:41 PM on July 18, 2002


Advertising at heart is a pretty venal and cynical business. I've known quite a few advertising folks -- copywriters and artists -- and most of them hated the industry they worked in. When's the last time you saw or read or heard an ad that actually extolled the virtues of the product itself? It's pretty rare. Usually, an ad is about lifestyle. Eat this food, drive this car, wear these clothes and you will be popular! At base, advertising depends on having people feel badly about themselves. Advertisers try to make you think that if you eat a certain food, drive a certain car, or wear certain clothes, you will be lifted out of your depressing existence and thrown in among the Beautiful People.

That's one reason I want to buy a DVR -- I'm getting to the point that I want to heave a rock through my TV every time a commercial comes on.
posted by mrmanley at 1:45 PM on July 18, 2002


I take it you've never worked in advertising. Smirking men in suits don't sit around a table lit with a bare bulb hanging overhead, rubbing their hands while scheming how to subvert people into caving to their master plan.

well, not any more, but Stuart Ewen points to a time when they did. Apparently in the early part of the 20th century admen and CEOs gathered in country clubs and decide what information (ads and fed news stories) should cover newspapers, magazines etc. (a depression era bilderburg conspiracy!) It's all in PR, which is a monster of a book to get through but well worth the time.
posted by rodz at 2:05 PM on July 18, 2002


There's a series of investment ads featuring 40yr old people who have given up on life. It's not as a joke, it's done quite seriously; as in "this is my life, a real life". Their dreams now consist of owning their own home, and putting their kids through university. They've become small people, and they find too much satisfaction in looking at a pretty sunset. They have a dog and 30 pet rabbits.
posted by holloway at 2:35 PM on July 18, 2002


I take it you've never worked in advertising. Smirking men in suits don't sit around a table lit with a bare bulb hanging overhead, rubbing their hands while scheming how to subvert people into caving to their master plan.

I have worked in advertising, and you are correct that a stereotype that extreme does not apply.

HOWEVER, the projects I was involved with did involve determining which images, words, messages would be most effective in:

1) getting the audience's attention
2) pushing the right emotional buttons, and
3) eliciting a desired response (favorable brand awareness, sales lead, etc.)

While you are correct that there is a passing of information going on here, it is meant more to manipulate than inform.
posted by Dirjy at 2:56 PM on July 18, 2002


Advertising at heart is a pretty venal and cynical business. I've known quite a few advertising folks -- copywriters and artists -- and most of them hated the industry they worked in.

Well, I'm both: A copywriter and artist, working in advertising, and I disagree with what you've said.

It's such an vague and generalized statement - I'm surprised you actually think that. I or anyone else could say the same thing about ANY business or industry. Work unto itself breeds a certain amount of "dissatisification" - it's simply a coping method for a lot of people.

Bottom line, if someone is "content" about what they do, it probably has more to do with their own personality than the industry they work in as a whole.
posted by jca at 3:04 PM on July 18, 2002


While you are correct that there is a passing of information going on here, it is meant more to manipulate than inform.

I stand by my statements above. I work part-time in advertising, and:

1) Getting the audience's attention IS important. Else, you have no audience.
2) Emotions are important with certain kinds of products. You wouldn't want to advertise a security service that makes customers feel uncomfortable, no?
3) I said above that it's not unthinkable that a company will try to present itself favorably. Reading responses here, you'd think they punched babies in the neck or something.

Don't let's all be victims, folks.
posted by rocketman at 3:06 PM on July 18, 2002


Maybe because my friends aren't really into drugs so much, and don't really care about things like the War on Drugs if it doesn't affect them.

nath,
I don't want to derail this thread too much, but I've got to say I kind of resent the implication you made here (perhaps unintentionally). I don't do any (narcotic) drugs myself, but I am terribly bothered by the implications of our drug policy. We are spending $60 BILLION of our taxes per year on a policy that hasn't been proven to work over several decades. What it has done is erode our fourth amendment rights, fund criminal organizations, waste law enforcement resources and cause many innocent deaths.

This dumbass "war" affects all of us. And not just in the U.S.



Anyway, back to the thread at hand... anybody remember that 'da da da' commercial with the gay men in the volkswagen -- what was up with that???
posted by Dirjy at 3:07 PM on July 18, 2002


you'd think they punched babies in the neck or something

rocketman --
Regardless of where we stand on this topic, I think this description is the funniest thing I've read all day.
posted by Dirjy at 3:10 PM on July 18, 2002


This dumbass "war" affects all of us. And not just in the U.S.

Dirjy-- I know this. And I'm not saying people who drugs don't care, I'm saying, specifically, my friends. There's a certain vein of apathy around here that seems to run through most of them. It's a shame.
posted by nath at 4:29 PM on July 18, 2002


What I should've said there is that they think "Well, the War on Drugs doesn't affect me, so why should I care?" Of course, they're wrong.
posted by nath at 4:33 PM on July 18, 2002


About the Mitsubishi commercials, the one you are complaining about interrobang is an Eclipse (the car I drive) commercial, and the song in it is Dirty Vegas' "Days Go By." I've interpreted the commercial as a sort of nod to the growing influence of dance music, rave culture, etc. A lot of people including myself happen to like the song, and that commercial almost single-handedly brought Dirty Vegas into the light. If you hate all forms of techno or dance music, then of course that song sucks... but to us trance fans it's pretty catchy. :)
posted by swank6 at 4:41 PM on July 18, 2002


Have you seen any ads recently that didn't exactly have the intended effect.

The drugs=terrorism propaganda spots.


Yeah, but only if you watch 'em stoned...
posted by jonmc at 5:04 PM on July 18, 2002


Recently there was a McDonald's billboard near my house that read:

Put the fast in breakfast!

This seems like an odd one. Are they telling me to skip breakfast, then?
posted by litlnemo at 6:08 PM on July 18, 2002


Hey, pardonyou?, thanks for the J. Ralph link! I never would've come anywhere near guessing the correct source for that background music.

And, by the way, I share your dislike of those "Herbal Essences" ads, and I'm certain you're not surprised that the same series has been repeatedly pegged as "worst commercials ever," both by random columnists as well as advertising groups, including AWNY (The "Grand Ugly" Award) and AdWeek.
posted by pzarquon at 6:28 PM on July 18, 2002


Best ads out there right now: Mike's Hard Lemonade/Iced Tea.

Surely you're joking. If there are commercials that turn me off a product, it's those.
posted by pmurray63 at 6:48 PM on July 18, 2002


One of the posts on Slashdot yesterday covered a game company who wanted to advertise their game by sticking signs on gravestones and paying the families :-) Wonderful.
posted by wackybrit at 8:24 PM on July 18, 2002


rocketman: well, you go right on ahead absorbing all those ads, and I'll go right on cutting as much of that annoying blight out of my life as I possibly can. Ads are usually ugly and annoying, always manipulative and often obviously so. Why would I want to waste my time with them?

Don't let's all be victims, folks.

Right away, sir! I don't care to be manipulated into wanting things I don't need, so rather than sit back and allow myself to be convinced (bing! chalk up another victim of consumerism!) I'll continue to actively purge manipulative corporate propaganda (i.e. advertising) from my life.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:35 PM on July 18, 2002


Some ads are essentially just signs placed at a distance relatively far from the actual locus of business.

The ones that are simple and not too terribly invasive don't bug me too much as long as they don't overwhelm the landscape.

I'm referring to the basic "attractive oversized creative business card" motif - typically they include the name and/or image of the product or service, plus a logo or slogan or whatever to make it a bit catchy, and information on how and where to obtain the goods. (Okay, and maybe a few options and price info, too).

This is not outrageous most of the time.

But the constant, in-your-face, bigger-faster-louder yammering we get in this culture from cradle to grave to BUY BUY BUY NOW!!! is just wearying the crap out of most of us consumers.

Not to mention the whole issue of having revealing pictures of hyper-thin, young, airbrushed, perfect-looking people all over the damn place, and what this does to our culture (the trend towards increasing eating disorders among elementary school girls comes to mind).

Some advertisements actually are witty or entertaining or bearable because they're actually *crafted* and they don't insult the average viewer's intelligence. These I don't really mind.

But really, so many advertisements these days just make me feel dirty inside, or like something has just been taken from me (my time, my attention, my mental space).

And yes, I will go out of my way to punish a company for bad advertising (by withholding my patronage that I otherwise would have considered giving them) if their advertising is bad.

Something in me rebels at rewarding them for pissing in the public well, so to speak.

I like seeing the occasional town that manages to keep reasonable guidelines on the size and type of streetside signs and advertisements allowed.

In Hale'iwa, Hawaii, for instance, even the McDonald's has to have a wooden sign, rather low to the ground, lit by a spotlight pointing at it rather than the typical imposingly-tall-glowing-M-onna-stick. It gives me hope.

Just goes to show that somehow, at least *some* communities are managing to win a battle here and there in the war against advertisers who want to cover everything with spam just so they can line their pockets.

When you look at an advertisement, you can't avoid wasting your mental energy processing the image(s) and words.

And that's invasive and unfair when done to extremes.

Doing that occasionally when there's a decent trade-off between resources taken up and value given is one thing.

The relentless snatching away of more and more and more of my limited time on this earth by advertisers goes way beyond rudeness to become a kind of constant memetic assault.

Okay, that may sound a bit overblown, but think about it - how many hours of your life have you spent looking at or listening to advertisements that were for things that you had *zero* possibility of buying?

I'm guessing "lots" doesn't even begin to cover it. And as far as I know, you don't get those hours back. Ever.

Is that fair? How many of those advertisements could you have just "opted out" of? How many of those advertisements were repetitions of ads you had already seen or heard? How many ads have you heard at least a dozen times? A hundred times?

Did you ever grit your teeth in frustration at not being able to get some advertiser's jingle out of your head?

People who misuse the public aural and visual space to continually shove their gilded-turd memes into the eyes and ears of the populace through sheer ubiquity should be sent to a special circle of hell where the only utterances they can make are advertising slogans and catchphrases, copyrighted names and trademarks.

Those who improperly enslave and misuse the language and the public space for their own avarice shall be limited to uttering statements that the advertising-weary populace has managed to pretty much tune out.

Gee, I'd guess a lot of people better hope I'm not made Head of Hades anytime soon, eh? :)

And dangit, I'm quite merciful. Really.

[malicious cackles echo into the distance...]
posted by beth at 7:48 AM on July 19, 2002


Beth:
Not to mention the whole issue of having revealing pictures of hyper-thin, young, airbrushed, perfect-looking people all over the damn place, and what this does to our culture (the trend towards increasing eating disorders among elementary school girls comes to mind).
Still young and airbrushed (and IMHO perfect looking), but at least
Sophie Dahl is bucking the thin thing a bit.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:11 AM on July 19, 2002


excellent. Thanks for providing material for my research project for *yet* another Rhet (composition) class. (sigh)

=p
posted by firestorm at 8:04 PM on July 20, 2002


« Older SleazeWagon rolls on . . . Big media look...   |   Just click "Fun" Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post