Archive for the ‘Commercial Break’ Category

Commercial Break: Mitsubishi Takes Pretentious Stand Against Pretentiousness   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 13 November 2012
Program: Twilight
Channel: FX
Conglomerates: News Corporation

Advertiser: Mitsubishi Motors
Owned By: Mitsubishi
Pitch: Watch us prove our blue collar credentials by wasting champagne in the desert.

Car commercials tend toward the boring.  They have their amusingly cliched absurdities (cars in car commercials are never stuck in traffic and only drive in picturesque settings), but for the most part it’s just a shiny new car driving in front of the camera while some boring narrator drones on about lease agreements or the like. 

(Please note that these are different from pickup truck commercials, which are marketed with penile insecurity so relentlessly that they often achieve a kind of lunatic charm.) 

This commercial for a Mitsubishi station wagon manages to stand out from the pack solely for the radical disconnect between what it’s saying and what it’s showing.  As we see the car dash through a pan flat desert, the typically dull narration says:

Great design doesn’t have to be stodgy or snooty.  It should be inclusive, no exclusive.  That’s why Mitsubishi redesigned the 2013 Outlander Sport.  Lease one now for as low as two-hundred-nineteen dollars a month for thirty six months and help end pretentiousness.  Great design is now design for all.

Hell of a Commute

The Coach Humungus really needs to find another place for soccer practice.

The pitch of the narration is that this is a car for everyone (“inclusive”, not “stodgy or snooty”), but right as he’s saying that, we see a butler in white gloves pouring a champagne pyramid in the middle of the fucking desert:

Jeeves of the Salt Flats

One presumes that he is not pouring one out for the homies who couldn’t be here.

There are a lot of ways to describe that image, but none of them accord with the idea of helping to “end pretentiousness”.  In fact, doing something like this is the very epitome of pretentiousness, which is why it’s inadvertently amusing that the commercial goes to slow motion to linger over this new Mitsubishi for the people wasting all that perfectly good booze and glassware:

Take That, Uh, Somebody!

Guys Who Thought This Up: Rich Maniac Assholes

Nor is this the only thing they decided to smash for no reason.  They also crashed the car into a chandelier because they didn’t want to seem snooty, or something:

Oh Hai Desert Chandelier

What is holding you up?

You know who destroys nice things just because they can?  Rich, pretentious fuckheads, that’s who.  Eat a dick, Mitsubishi. 

Posted November 19, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

Commercial Break: Centrum Silver Has Been Studied By Doctors! (The Results? Uh, Nevermind.)   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 13 November 2012
Program: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Channel: USA
Conglomerates: Comcast & General Electric

Advertiser: Centrum Silver
Owned By: Pfizer
Pitch: Doctors once studied our multi-vitamin.  ’Nuff said.

Doctors and scientists conduct a lot of studies and trials to explore the effects that drugs, vitamins and all manner of other items have on human health.  The whole point of all that careful work is, of course, to draw conclusions about what is and is not effective.  Otherwise, why do them?  With this new ad for Centrum Silver, Pfizer has managed to answer that very question.

We open with a generic Romney voter talking into the camera:

Middle Aged White Guy

I pay income taxes you lazy moochers!

The commercial is mostly this unnamed actor speaking directly into the camera, and this is what he says:

Years ago my doctor told me to take a Centrum silver multi-vitamin everyday.  I told him, sure.  Can’t hurt, right?  Then I heard this news about a multi-vitamin study, looking at long term health benefits for men over fifty.  The one they used in that study?  Centrum Silver.

Okay, so they used Centrum Silver in a study.  Fine.  The next logical step would seem to be telling us what they found out.  Decrease in cancer risk?  Significant reduction in ear and nose hair?  Erections lasting more than four hours?  Instead, he continues:

That’s what I take.

Okay, but what about the study?  What did they find out about “long term health benefits for men over fifty”?

My doctor, he knows his stuff.

Good for him, but he’s not my doctor, and if I’m going to start taking this rather expensive pill every day, I’d sure like to know what that study found out.  Maybe the narrator will tell us:

Centrum, the most recommend, most preferred, most studied.  Centrum, your most complete.

Hmmm, nope.  He also seems to think that it’s important that Centrum was the “most studied”, but nowhere do they mention, say or even hint at what this study discovered about Centrum Silver.  They just want you to know that it was indeed studied:

Most Studied, Least Concluded

Most Studied”, is like the Nobel Prize in “Attempted Chemistry”?

That would all be funny enough on its own, but there’s a further punchline here, and it shows just how completely absurd the subversion of truth in advertising laws has become:

Study May Not Apply

The government never gave me any ‘gifts’, damn it!

The fine print reads:

A prior formulation of Centrum Silver was used in a long-term study evaluating the health benefits for me 50 and over.

In other words, the mysterious study they’re talking about didn’t even use the thing they’re advertising, but because they mentioned it, they have to make note of that discrepancy even though they aren’t telling us which study it was or what any of the conclusions were.  Feh.

Posted November 16, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

Commercial Break: Small Packets, Big Lies   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 13 November 2012
Program: Dr. Drew on Call
Channel: HLN
Conglomerate: Time Warner

Advertiser: Nectresse
Owned By: Tate & Lyle
Pitch: We make fake sugar from real things. 

There is something to be said for brevity, especially when it comes to misdirection.  This advertisement for one of those endlessly inferior non-sugar sweeteners takes a mere fifteen seconds, and this is the entirety of the spoken dialogue:

Born from the sweet monk fruit, something this delicious could only come from nature.  New Nectresse, the 100% natural no calorie sweeter, made from the goodness of fruit.  New Nectresse, sweetness naturally. 

As George Carlin one told us, there’s nothing the least bit healthy about something being “100% natural”.  After all, dog shit is totally natural, but that doesn’t make it very good food. 

More important is the quick elision of “Born from the sweet monk fruit”, which is a polite and legally defensible way of saying “this is the plant we started tormenting and manipulating to create this amalgam we’re selling”.  Should ye venture to the website, you’ll find that the ingredients are “(erythritol, sugar and molasses)”, and what is “erythritol”?  They’re glad you asked:

Erythritol is an all-natural, sugar alcohol that is naturally fermented from sugars and is found in many vegetables and fruits.

They once again use the meaningless but positive sounding word “natural” (twice!) to distract from the fact that what they’re actually talking about is a heavily processed chemical that they can derive from just about anything and put into powder form. 

None of which is to say that erythritol is bad or dangerous, or even that it’s a poor substitute for real sugar.  Artificial sweeteners have been around for a long time, millions of people use them, and they aren’t going anywhere.  What’s notable here is the rigorous adherence to trumped up fashion and health concerns that make these poor sentences burst at their punctuation with trendy bullshit.  Look at that narration again:

Born from the sweet monk fruit

First of all, nothing here is being “born”, and certainly not in the sense of a species propagating itself.  Secondly, calling fruit “sweet” is redundant and distracting:

In the culinary sense of these words, a fruit is usually any sweet-tasting plant product

Moreover, saying that . . .:

something this delicious could only come from nature

. . . is complete horseshit.  Everything comes from nature.  Rocks and sulfur come from nature.  Odorous hair gel comes from nature.  So when they say:

New Nectresse, the 100% natural no calorie sweeter, made from the goodness of fruit.

You know that they aren’t actually describing their product, they’re just chanting a refrain.  People like fruit and nature, and though both have just this side of nothing to do with “Nectresse” (which sounds like like what the ancient Greeks would’ve named their soap opera villains if they’d had teevee), by canting those happy words over and over they’re hoping to associate their very unnatural looking powder with “the goodness of fruit”.

That the ad features sugar packets flying like butterflies merely completes the lie:

Freedom, Horrible Horrible Freedom

Attack the humans!  Kill them all!

The entire message here is a deception, one designed to substitute something that doesn’t require a ton of chemical manipulation for something that does.  It isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s this kind of routine, almost habitual fabrication that makes otherwise sensible people think that anything produced by giant food companies is inherently evil.  It’s just a sugar substitute, but the ad tries to make it seem like something that Adam and Steve were using in the Garden of Eden even though everyone knows it isn’t. 

Posted November 14, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

Commercial Break: E-Trade Has Cooler Graphics Than Ever!   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 11 November 2012
Program: Face the Nation
Channel: CBS
Conglomerate: National Amusements/Viacom/CBS Corporation

Advertiser: E-Trade
Owned By: E-Trade
Pitch: The new E-Trade isn’t as shitty as the old one, we promise.

As the poster company for on-line stock speculation, E-Trade has always been at the forefront of turning “investing” into nothing more than an elaborate on-line gaming experience that happens to involve real money.  As the years have gone by and the promise of instant wealth trading stocks in your pajamas has been repeatedly exposed as a fantasy, their marketing has become increasingly vague over just what they’re offering.  These days they hardly mention money or the stock market, instead highlighting all the features that make trading easy for you (yes, you!), the small investor who can can detect trends and opportunities better than those coked out dollar jockeys in the canyons of Manhattan.   

You can see that vagueness in those screechingly awful talking baby commercials, where the whole pitch is that anyone, even infants, can invest with their tools.  (And since you’re smarter than a baby, how hard could it be?)  You can also see it in more generic commercials like this one, which doesn’t so much as discuss what you might actually be doing, but rather makes stocks look like a cool video game that you can play from anywhere.  It’s a short ad, just 15-seconds, and this is the entirety of the narration:

E-trade technology can help make you a better investor.  Our E-trade 360 investing dashboard shows you where your money is live.  E-trade Pro is so useable you’ll actually use it.  And our apps are the ultimate in mobile investing.  Become a better investor, at E-trade.

Note that there’s nothing there about actual investing, what their tools do, or even a single number about commissions, trades, whatever.  Anything that smacks of complexity or risk has been eliminated.  All they’re offering is something that’s bigger, cooler, and more powerful than the previous version.  But the narration is the minority partner here, the real heavy lifting is done by the graphics:

E-Box 360

Cool laptop, bro.

That would be the “E-trade 360 investing dashboard” which presumably does not play Halo 4 and stream Netflix, but might.  But wait, there’s more:

E-Trade Pro Comes In Five Different Colors

Awesome, I’ll look just like those guys on TV with all the monitors!

This is “E-trade Pro” the thing that’s “so usable you’ll actually use it”, which is good because the small, negligibly legible print says that you must make at least 30 trades every “calendar quarter” to keep using it.  In other words, this is E-trade 360’s version of in-game purchasable content.  Don’t want to spend two hours looking for the Wizard Key?  Just make at least ten trades a month.  Finally, we get to the new handheld version:
 For the Gambler on the Go

Yeah, but does it play Tetris?

This is the best part, because if there’s one thing that’s the opposite of careful, well researched investment, it’s the need to buy and sell stocks while you’re in line at Starbucks, sitting on the can, or frustrated by the new expansion pack for Angry Birds.  Like casinos that put the slot machines near the entrance because they’re the easiest game to play, all E-trade is pushing here is convenience.  They want you to know that the barrier to entry for flinging money around is lower than it’s ever been, that you (yes, you!) can do it just like the big boys, as though the only thing holding you back was better graphics and a slicker user interface. 

Posted November 12, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

Commercial Break: Crizal Lenses Are So Good You Don’t Need Glasses   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 6 November 2012
Program: Cyclops
Channel: SyFy
Conglomerates: Comcast & General Electric

Advertiser: Crizal
Owned By: Essilor
Pitch: Invincible lenses for your glasses mean that you don’t need glasses.

[Programming Note: Box Score Cinema for Bond 24 will be delayed until tomorrow morning.]

One of the fun parts of low budget programming, like a movie on SyFy about a giant CGI cyclops who has to battle his way out of a Roman gladiatorial arena, is equally low budget commercials.  It is in that spirit that we get this odd, poorly animated, one trick, first person viewer of a commercial for specialty eyeglass lenses.

We begin by looking out onto a rain soaked street as a hand (male and white, naturally) puts on a pair of glasses:

A Very Boring Dramatization

There’s an ammo pack hidden behind that pillar during multiplayer matches.

It’s all pretty much the same from here on out.  On the left we have the “ordinary lens” and on the right we have the miracle lens, and in the lower right we have the “Dramatization” disclaimer to let you know that the rest of this is, in fact, completely made up.  Not too surprisingly, the lens on the left is instantly covered in blurry rain drops while the lens on the right is spotless and perfect.  This pattern will repeat itself.  The narration:

Just look at the difference a Crizal lens can make on your sight.  Neither rain, nor snow, nor dust, nor dirt, nor smudge, nor scratches, nor glare of night, can keep your lenses from giving you the clearest vision possible.

As the narrator hits each obstacle (snow, dust, dirt, etc.) we switch to a new scene, each with its own distinct flavor of poorly done computer graphics.  First, snow, complete with a bratty kid hitting him square in the monocles with a snowball:

Nor Snow

Then comes dust and dirt, which is maybe the worst one since the commercial appears to think there is a sandstorm worthy of the Sahara occurring in this not-at-all-desertified downtown:

Nor Dust

Then comes smudges and scratches, represented here by this guy’s inability to protect his face from a beach ball thrown by a toddler:

Nor Scratches

And finally, “glare of night”, which sounds like a cool noir detective movie but is, in fact, our first person guy standing by a railing with an attractive woman who looks appropriately upper middle class:

Nor Glare of Night

Through each of these scenes we see ugly smudges on the left lens while the right remains perfectly clear.  What makes the whole thing even more low rent than it already is, however, is the way that the view through the right lens is identical to the view outside of them.

I get why they did that, you wouldn’t want most of your image to be blurry nothingness, but once you notice it, a cheap nonsensical commercial becomes even cheaper and more nonsensical.  Nevermind the crappy CGI, nevermind the hokey and fatuous locations, nevermind that this guy’s kids throw shit at his face with alarming regularity, the clarity they’re explicitly holding up – in a comparison they came up with themselves – is dwarfed by the overwhelming majority of screen real estate taken up by something that isn’t their product.  Of course, when you’re advertising on Cyclops on the SyFy channel you can probably assume that the audience isn’t paying details that much attention anyway, but still.

Posted November 9, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

Commercial Break – Strange Holidays at Express   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 6 November 2012
Program: The Colbert Report
Channel: Comedy Central
Conglomerates: Viacom

Advertiser: Express
Owned By: Express
Pitch: Come to the worst holiday party ever.

Serious fashion has always had the whiff of scam around it, if for no other reason than no one ever seems able to offer a concrete reason just why those tiny pieces of clothing have to cost so much.  It’s always something nebulous and indefinable about trends or style or some such, and those are hallmarks of bullshit.  Case in point, this ad for the “holiday collection” from Express. 

As an indistinctly hip pop song plays in the background, we open on a gate at the end of a long road, clearly somewhere way out in the sticks:

Fantasy Driveway

Run Forrest, Run!

That immediately dissolves to some kind of castle or church:

Welcome My Pretties

Our Lady of the 3,000% Markup was originally constructed in 1685.

Which then cuts to . . . a city street hosting a fashion show(?):

Fashion City

Mommy, why is that man dressed like an idiot taking up the whole street?

The rest of the commercial is just more of the same:

Step Into the Light

With just a slight tweak this could be a suicide prevention ad.

Princess Buttercups

These Hunger Games sequels are getting weird.

After the models parade around in front of the normies for awhile, a female voice comes on and says the only dialogue of the entire thirty-second ad:

Holiday collection by Express.

I’m sure that the right press flack could somehow find the connection between the Forever Driveway, the giant castle/church, this city’s not at all holiday decorated people and buildings, and the underfed models doing their best not to let slip how absurd all this is, but I confess myself mystified.  I suppose there’s something to be said for a minimalist approach, just show off your clothes and let people want them.  But then why bother with the establishing shots of the fantasy kingdom? 

No, this is retail clothing working its deep bullshit by being weird for the sake of weird and hoping that no one calls it for the asinine nonsense that it is: a bunch of overpriced clothes with a label sewn on them.  The commercial is incoherent because being coherent might let people in on how dumb it is. 

Posted November 7, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

Commercial Break: Enbrel Probably Won’t Help You, Inject It Anyway   2 comments

Broadcast: 31 October 2012
Program: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Channel: NBC
Conglomerates: Comcast & General Electric

Advertiser: Enbrel
Owned By: Amgen & Pfizer
Pitch: Maybe clear your skin up a little with painful, dangerous injections.

The legal boundaries within which prescription drug ads must operate have imposed on the genre a certain repetitiveness.  First, you get actors to represent people suffering from whatever ailment this particular pharmaceutical concoction is supposed to allay.  Then, since you have to read aloud all those side effects, you show those same actors walking around a park, or working at a cool looking office, or hanging out with their friends and family.  That’s it, actors stating their problems and then side effects, call it the prescription drug two-step. 

The only two interesting variables in this relentless template are 1) just how much of the commercial is taken up by side effects and 2) the inherent absurdity of having the dire side effects being recited while super healthy actor people march around on screen.  This ad, for a skin treatment that you have to take with a fucking needle, scores high on both counts:

Enbrel may not work for everyone and may not clear you completely.  But for many it gets skin clear fast, and keeps it clear up to nine months. 

Clear Skin and High Failure Rates

Is this a spa?  A porn shoot?  The Olympus set in Clash of the Titans 5?

You may notice the small white text on the light blue background there saying “Your results may vary Nearly half of patients saw significant improvement”.  “Nearly half”, of course, is marketspeak for “most patients didn’t see significant improvement”.  After that, the friendly male narrator spends more than forty seconds of the one minute spot describing all the terrible things that might happen to you:

Because Enbrel etanercept suppresses your immune system, it may lower your ability to fight infections.  Serious, sometimes fatal events, including infections, tuberculosis, lymphoma, other cancers, and nervous system and blood disorders have occurred. 

So Enbrel can turn you into a cancer ridden lunger with messed up nerves and blood, and that’s before we get to your doctor, who they assume is remarkably incompetent:

Before starting Enbrel, your doctor should test you for tuberculosis and discuss whether you’ve been to a region where certain fungal infections are common.  Don’t start Enbrel if you have an infection like the flu. 

Um, since I can’t start Enbrel without a prescription, shouldn’t my doctor just not prescribe it if I’ve currently go the flu? 

Tell your doctor if you’re prone to infections, have cuts or sores, have had hepatitis B, have been treated for heart failure, or if while on Enbrel you experience persistent fever, bruising, bleeding or paleness. 

Again, shouldn’t my doctor already know if I’m “prone to infections”, “have had hepatitis B”, or “been treated for heart failure”?  But nevermind any of that, because this guy can go hiking now:

You Can't Climb Rocks Without Good Skin 

And this lady can shop for cute, authentic furnishings:

Knicknack Shops Are Rife With Fungal Infections 

And this woman can ride on a cool boat:

Boat Induced Heart Failure 

It’s while they’re experiencing all these memorable moments in life that the narration is going on about blood disorders, hepatitis and that doctor who probably shouldn’t have been given a prescription pad in the first place.  Nothing out of the ordinary for a prescription drug ad, of course, but it’s always fun to see a guy climbing rocks while the voiceover is warning you about tuberculosis, especially when the drug in question doesn’t even help half of the people who take it.

Posted November 5, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

Commercial Break: Nespresso Lie:Sentence Ratio Approaches 1:1   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 31 October 2012
Program: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Channel: NBC
Conglomerates: Comcast & General Electric

Advertiser: Nespresso
Owned By: Nestle
Pitch: Premium coffee tastes better at home, provided you live in fabulous digs and look like Jean Grey from the X-Men movies.

Advertising is inherently dishonest, which is why its true aficionados seek out the purest, most untrammeled dishonesty they can find.  From a profile of Simpsons writer George Meyer in the March 2000 issue of The New Yorker:

[Meyer] is especially interested in examples of ad copy in which the word-to-falsehood ratio approaches one. He once showed me a magazine advertisement for a butter substitute called Country Crock. "It’s not from the country; there is no crock," he said. "Two words, two lies."

That is indeed an impressive feat of dishonesty, and while it probably isn’t impossible to achieve in a 30-second television spot, it’s much easier in print than on the screen.  After all, you can gin up a two word/two lie slogan and slap it into a magazine, but on teevee the copy has to at least resemble a coherent English sentence.  Not everything can be nouns and adjectives.  However, if you lower the ratio standard from “word-to-falsehood” to “sentence-to-falsehood”, this commercial for Nespresso comes awfully close.

We begin:

I found the best cafe in the world.

Lie #1: Our sultry female protagonist informs us that she has found a “cafe”, which our old friend Noah defines as:

a usually small and informal establishment serving various refreshments (as coffee); broadly : restaurant

She is, of course, not talking about a cafe, but rather her home.  Continuing:

Nespresso, where there’s a coffee to match my every mood.

This is absurd, “every mood”? lists only sixteen different coffees (though they call them “Grands Crus”), while venerable music database allows you to choose from 288 different “moods” ranging from Acerbic and Agreeable to Wry and Witty.  Even if half of those were synonyms you’d still have nearly ten moods for every kind of coffee Nespresso sells, so that’s Lie #2.  Moving right along:

Where just one touch creates the perfect cup.

Even if we grant them artistic license on “perfect”, as this is being said we see her touch a lot more than one thing:

No Touching1

Damn it, there isn’t one for my current mood of being ironically self-conscious.

No Touching2

I’d say there’s a lot of touching going on, but this commercial is porn-y enough as it is.

No Touching3

That’s it, baby, push that button.  (Sorry.)

According to the commercial’s own imagery we see that it actually takes a lot more than “one touch”, so that’s Lie #3 in as many sentences.  Continuing:

Where every cappuccino and latte is made with fresh milk.

Bullshit.  The only way you can make things with “fresh milk” is if you live on a dairy farm, this does not look like a dairy farm:

World's Snazziest Dairy

I doubt there’s a Holstein within twenty miles of this place.

And just like that we’re at four (4) sentences and four (4) lies.  Finally we come to the sexy coupe-de-grace that spoils our perfect ratio:

And where clothing is optional.

It isn’t much of a statement, clothing is optional (pretty much everywhere provided you don’t mind the secondary option of a public indecency charge), but it isn’t false.  Oh well, we came close, but the search for perfect dishonesty goes on.

It should be pointed out, however, that while this one undeniably falls short, we never see the woman on screen actually speak.  We’re obviously meant to assume that it’s her talking (“I found”), but the voice is almost certainly a professional voice actor merely accompanying the Famke Janssen look alike who pads around in her clothing optional home/cafe.  It’s not quite a lie, but it ain’t exactly true either:

Sexy Coffee Is Sexy

Shouldn’t you be out telekinesising something?

Posted November 2, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

Commercial Break: All-State Mixes Fantasy and Reality   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 28 October 2012
Program: Bigfoot: The Definitive Guide
Channel: H2
Conglomerates: Hearst Corporation & Disney

Advertiser: Allstate Auto Insurance
Owned By: Allstate
Pitch: Our insurance is so good you’ll dance!*  (*If we hire you to.)

Television commercials are rife with actors pretending to be “real customers”.  There’s no mystery as to why: paid actors are prettier than real customers, they speak with more conviction than real customers, and they’ll read whatever script you put in front of them so long as you pay scale and offer lunch.  Best of all, since lying in commercials is legal so long as you put the requisite “we’re lying” statement in small, barely legible print, you can call as many script reading actors “real customers” as you’d like. 

It goes almost without saying that actors with small font disclaimers is the route chosen by most advertisers, while some (more often local) spots actually pluck regular people off the street and give them a few seconds on television.  What makes this spot for Allstate so unusual is that it uses both.

We start with this guy, who is, rather surprisingly, not pitching Hair Club for Men:

Spokeman-Bot 2.2

With hair this good, you can wear a picnic blanket as a shirt and no one will notice.

This perfectly generic spokesdude begins the ad by telling you about the various incredible wonders of Allstate insurance:

Think you can’t get great auto insurance coverage and a great rate?  Think again.

To prove his point, the commercial moves swiftly to the paid-actors-dancing-around-like-morons portion of our show:

Mary switched to Allstate, got an agent, and saved three-hundred and twenty six dollars on her car insurance.


‘Mary’, shown here dancing in a car free oblivion.

Allstate goes the usual disclaimer one better by saying not just that this is a “Dramatization”, but that it’s a “Dramatization based on real customer savings and experiences.”  Well then, that sounds much more credible, because adding details is never the hallmark of a lie.  Spokesdude continues:

John switched, got an agent, and saved two-hundred and sixty-three dollars. 


You just want me to dance around?  Can you at least put some music on?  Whatever, I got a callback from that sitcom about the haunted Barcalounger.

Like ‘Mary’, John’s painfully awkward dance is a “Dramatization based on real customer savings and experiences”, though one doubts that many “real customers” have ever spontaneously begun dancing in the Allstate office.  Neither of them is really a customer, so it doesn’t really matter.  Here’s where things get discombobulated and weird though:

Actual Customer0

Wait, what?


Actual Customer1


So after we go through quite a few paid actors (more than just dancing they also get to hold up their low bills and stuff like that), we get not one, but two “Actual Allstate Customer”s.  Even with the real people, they’re still forced to disclose that “Average Annual Savings” was a lot less than these two got, but there’s no fine print that says that Michael or Maria are actors, or that their cases were faked for the ad. 

I suppose Allstate’s going for the best of both worlds here.  They want to be associated with the lean, trim young dancing actors, but they also want you to know that real people, who look decidedly more worn and aged, trust them as well.  The main effect would seem to be rather the opposite.  By going with the bullshit and then trying to leaven it with real people, they just raise the question as to who those dancing idiots were earlier in the commercial. 

In general, it’s best to pick a bullshit depth and stick with it.  After all, you’re hardly likely to trust someone who says, “I’m telling you the truth now, but I was lying earlier.” 

Posted October 31, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break

Commercial Break: 5-Hour Energy Might Help You Do Stuff, But We’re Not Saying It Will   Leave a comment

Broadcast: 28 October 2012
Program: Bigfoot: The Definitive Guide
Channel: H2
Conglomerates: Hearst Corporation & Disney

Advertiser: 5-Hour Energy
Owned By: Living Essentials/Innovation Ventures
Pitch: Our caffeine distillate will help you be more productive except when it doesn’t, which might be always or might be never.  Just buy it, will ya?

There are a lot of ways to mainline caffeine into your system these days, from old fashioned black coffee and Coke to elaborate cappuccinos and Red Bull.  All of them bill themselves to one extent or another as a way to refresh yourself without actually resting, but none of them put that pitch right into the title of the product the same way as 5-Hour Energy.  The name says it all: we’ll keep you moving for five hours if you can swallow our goop without booting. 

Marketing a simple product like that doesn’t require any great feats of imagination or clever sales tactics.  All the commercial has to do is get out of the way, and in this case that means showing you what you want to see while, for legal reasons, declaiming even the very notion that their product does what they’re advertising. 

We begin with a yuppie looking doofus walking across various scenes of people working (and nevermind that everything’s done with sub-soap opera level production values):

Dramatized Actor Portrayals

Hi, I’m the evil work fairy.  Your boss conjured me to spy on you when you yawn.

The small print there reads “Actor Portrayal” and “Dramatization”, so at least we know that Douchebag McYuppie here isn’t bothering actual people.  He is however, promising that should you ever find yourself tired, 5-Hour Energy can help:

Two-thirty in the afternoon, a lot to do, and you’ve hit the wall.  But you’ve gotta get stuff done, so take 5-Hour Energy.  Just open it up, knock it back, and roll up your sleeves.  5-Hour Energy is faster and easier than coffee, and, man does it work.  You’ll get that alert, energized feeling you need to get stuff done. 

As he’s telling you to “knock it back”, we get a helpful visual cue:

Chug, Chug, Chug!

No fair, he already rolled up his sleeves!

As always, the devil is in the fine print:

Provides a feeling of alertness and energy.  Does not provide caloric energy.  Not proven to improve physical performance, dexterity or endurance.

So, while 5-Hour Energy will perk you up and let you “get stuff done”, that doesn’t include any of the things that might actually help.  You’ll just feel a little different, even though you’re actually exhausted, clumsy and barely awake.  But wait, there’s more!:

World's Least Organized Box Factory

Package sorting as done by idiots.

This set of small print reads:

Contains about as much caffeine as a cup of the leading premium coffee.  Limit caffeine products to avoid nervousness, sleeplessness and occasional rapid heartbeat.

And now we’ve gotten to the “active ingredient” portion of our story, wherein we have to remind you, as unobtrusively as possible, that caffeine isn’t something we can legally recommend that you ingest in gargantuan quantities.  Once we’ve seen how all those nice people became instantly revived and productive (albeit with no change to their physical performance, dexterity or endurance), it’s time for the final disclaimer(s):

Order Now, Supplies Aren't Limited!

If you aren’t too jittery to click something, like us on social media!

There are three (3!) different pieces of small print dissembling here.  First up is the always true “Individual results may vary”, which is practically catechism for advertising.  Next comes the industry standard “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration”, just so you know that while we are selling you a powerful drug, we can’t be held responsible in case you have an adverse reaction. 

Finally comes “No crash means no sugar crash”, which seems a little out of place since the word “crash” isn’t spoken during the commercial.  It’s there because the bottle reads “Hours of energy now – No crash later!”, which is funny because usually commercials only have to cover up their own bullshit, but in this case it also has to cover up the bullshit that’s actually on the packaging as well. 

All of that is just window dressing though.  None of the text, spoken or shown, is really important to the message here, which is that this bottle of expensive crap will wake you the fuck up and help you work.  The actors, the dramatization, and the seemingly endless parade of 4-point font aren’t really meant to be informative, because 5-Hour Energy doesn’t need or want you to do any deep thinking or contemplation about what they’re actually pitching.  You already know what it does, this is just their way of reminding you while at the same time covering their ass to the fullest possible extent. 

Posted October 29, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Commercial Break