Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Betina wants to know. . . Where's The Limit?

If you're looking for a little light reading or have a weak stomach, you may want to give this blog entry a pass. I'm venting here and it won't be pretty. Last night, I finally reached my limit. I've suffered through decades of mind-dulling television advertising, but I've discovered my common sense and sense of taste haven't been battered into oblivion yet. I can still be revolted and nauseated by commercials.

Case in point, the creepy, stomach-turning concoctions of a group called 180LA to promote Boost Mobile-- Sprint's pre-paid arm. Gee, and I though that Sprint CEO with his calm appearance and straight talk was such a nice guy. . .

The commercials I'm talking about started with a female with the 3 foot long arm pit hair that blows wildly in her biking partner's face. I cringe, physically, every time I see that commercial. It makes me want to hold my breath. I realized I had blocked all perception of what product was being advertised. I finally made myself watch the final seconds to get the name of the product so I could be certain never to buy it.

I'd rather go back to the stone age of cords and pay phones than have to talk on a Boost mobile phone.

Then came the pigs. Two creepily lifelike pigs are seated at a linen-draped table in what appears to be a restaurant, eating a big platter of-- of all things-- ham! Then one looks at the camera and talks about enjoying his fallen comrade's "flavors."

My stomach churneth. If the bizarro specter of porcine cannibalism doesn't make you want to rush out and buy their brand of cell service, what will?

Then came the coroner doing an autopsy while eating a burrito. . . some of which falls into the body he's working on. The desirability of planting the image of desecrating a body in our minds to sell a product-- is beyond me. Is this really meant to be funny? Or are they just going for shock value?

Tonight came the final straw. . . a grown man (?) riding in a "Snugli"-type baby carrier on a larger man's stomach as they cruise the frozen foods aisle of a supermarket. Not only does it look creepy. . . the guy mentions how it's his thing, implying he shouldn't be judged for it. . . and how much he loves the taste of breast milk. Say it with me. Ewwwwwww.

Hats off to the Boost Mobile people. They have truly transcended. They've taken CREEPY to a whole new level.

Am I being too sensitive here-- or are these commercials a new low in advertising?

Are they funny? Can you explain to me why? Okay, I know it's hard to explain humor. . . and I promise not to browbeat you if you find them humorous. I confess, I just don't understand it. And I've studied humor for along time. The basis for most humor is "the unexpected". . . that which doesn't fit. . . something anomalous or startling. From that definition, these commercials should be a blast. I think they're just squicky squared.

Have you seen them? What do you think? What are your "worst"commercials? What makes you want to dive for the remote and turn the channel-- besides political attack ads-- that's a given.

Me? I'm headed for the shower and my Venus razor. . .


flchen1 said...

AAAAACCK! Betina, I don't believe I've seen any of these yet, and now I'll be sure to make it a point to avoid them all--they all sound horribly tasteless. Thank God for TiVo...

Kylie said...

Betina I'll admit I've seen the first two and actually cringed, although they were sort of funny. BUT...I had no idea what they were advertising. None.

Haven't seen the other two but the ICK factor is high enough I'm pretty sure I'd be creeped out.

But hey I was creeped out by one of the scenes I wrote with my villain as I was writing it, so. . .!

Keri Ford said...

Okay, the arm pit hair makes me chuckle, but I have a story on why.

On my honeymoon, hubs and I took a horseback ride. Our guide was a female, in a sleeveless shirt, with armpit hair like a grown man! And she wasn’t ashamed as she raised her arms frequently through the day. She flirted with my husband a bit while hubs was trying not to be sick by the sight.

So you see why I laugh? The others though...shudder. and I haven't even seen them.

Michele Hauf said...

That armpit hair commercial kills me! I hate it. I walk away every time I see it. Just saw the pig one the other day but wasn't paying attention so didn't get it. Yeah, they've gone over some edge, that's for sure.

On the other hand, I have an absolute favorite commercial lately, and I think I may actually dream about it. It's for Visa Go, or something like that, but features an Italian theme and shows shots of a chef throwing a wheel of pizza dough. It's very creative and it rolls down his arm and he twists and flips it. Man, I want that man! I know, it's very strange. But he like...seduces me with that pizza dough. Am I insane to dream about the pizza dough-tossing guy sweeping me into his arms and well...am I?

[ok, well there's my answer. The word verification was: flush]

GunDiva said...

The new AXE anti-persperant commercial does me in; the one with the water shooting out from under the guy's arms everytime he lifts his arms. YUCK! Thankfully, I haven't seen the Boost commercials yet (probably has something to do with not having a TV at home). My kids think I'm nuts, but my rule of thumb is that if a company's got really truly horrible commercials, I refuse to buy their product and support their ad campaign. Heck, two days ago was the first time I stepped foot into Old Navy because I hated their commercials so much - but the new Mannequin commercials crack me up, so I'll spend my money there :)

GunDiva said...

Oh...and the new Comcast commericals that are all monotone and SIMS-like. No Comcast Cable for me, thank you very much. Makes shopping so much easier when you rule out what you refuse to buy because of dumb commercials :)

Playground Monitor said...

We don't watch commercials at our house. The husband wields the DVR remote like a weapon and zaps right through them, so I've not seen the once you mention or any others for that matter. Oh... I take that back. We watch the Superbowl commercials.

Like GunDiva, I let commercials affect my buying habits. For years I refused to eat at Burger King because their commercials never said how good their food was; they merely bashed the competitor, and I hate that.


Debra Dixon said...

The arm hair commercial I thought was stupid. I haven't seen the guy who loves breast milk. EEWWWW!!

And I hate the Burger King guy in bed with the people when they wake up. That's just creepy.

My husband thinks more commercials are funny than I do.

Kathleen said...

I have seen some of these commercials and frankly think that commercials such as this insults our intellegence. I think the people who come up with these ads really need a little bit of help from DR. PHIL!!!! or someone in that profession. Thank God I always have a good book handy to so I can tune out these infantile commericals.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I'll come back to the topic at hand after I watch the video. Somehow I've missed this campaign. But I just got an e from my baby sister saying that she posted a comment on my Barbie post from Friday. Couple that with Deb's post yesterday--the read that brings tears to your eyes--and, okay, I'm all teary now over a new read. Baby sister came way late to the party, but her comment is a big moment for me.

Now, back to the words we're getting from sponsors who need to get a clue from Charlie the Tuna and show some taste...

Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm more upset by what's being advertised than anything else. To wit: pharmaceutical ads. The whole notion of advertising prescription drugs is crazy, imo, and it kills me that they show people dancing through fields of heather while they reel off the side effects. It says something scary about our society, frankly.

Heather B. said...

I have seen the armpit commerical and thought ewwwww gross also saw the pig one but i didn't pay much attention to it. Haven't seen the other 2. I agree the Axe commercial with the guy shooting water out of his pits is gross too.


Betina Krahn said...

WHEW, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who things these are off. . . waaaay off.

Flchen, I'd direct you to a video loop, but I don't want to contribute to their popularity! You may be better off not knowing!

Kylie, some things just set our teeth on edge, don't they?

Keri-- what is it about men and underarm hair on women? Most of the guys I know are really grossed out by the "natural woman" thing. Have we trained them that way? I just keep seeing that poor guy on the back of the bicycle, getting flapped in the face with her underarm hair. Ughhhh. Does anybody make Scrubbing Bubbles for brains?

Gun Diva, I'm a commercial activist, too! If there is a particularly obnoxious commercial, I boycott the product. The Axe commercial. . . I've seen that once. Ewwww, too. God forbid hairy woman and wet man should ever get together!

Marilyn, I do enjoy commercials that are clever and fun visually. I adore funny ones. . . though I do more TIVO-ing and fast forwarding through a lot more commercials these days.

Kathleen, I'm not sure even Dr. Phil could do anything with these folks. Maybe a good, old-fashioned straight jacket. . .

Kathy, I'm so pleased to hear of your sis's visit. I know how special that must have been for you.

Heather, I'm glad to know I'm not alone! Let's nip this trend in the bud!

You know, blogs and web sites have done a lot in my life to bring me together with people I'd lost touch with. It really is a smaller world all the time!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Betina, I Googled Boost Mobile and got this site: http://www.boostmobilecommunity.com/videos/

I watched the "behind the scenes" bit and saw snatches of the commercials along with the commentary of how they came up with this campaign. Yep, this stuff is gross. I'm really grossed out by the burrito. The armpit hair just seems funny-gross. 12-yr-old-boy humor. Definitely attention-getting and memorable, which is what they want. If the product really does treat the customer right when so many other cell phone deals are "so wrong," then they'll reach their target market with a commercial like this. We're obviously not it.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Has anyone seen the episode of "Mad Men" about coming up with an ad for the vibrating "female weight loss device"? They turn the product over to the only woman they've allowed to join the creative team, and she takes it home, straps it on, and discovers what it really does. She has to give a report to the all-male team and then come up with a sales pitch.

I know I've become a broken record about this series, but it's about so many things that contribute to who we are today, including the early days of TV advertising--so basic to what we're talking about.

Plus, there's Jon Hamm.

Kathleen Eagle said...

OMG, one more thing, and then I'll shut up. Speaking of target markets, has anyone seen "My Big Fat Redneck Wedding"? I'm writing a wedding scene--not redneck, but cowboy--so I tuned in to about 15 minutes of the grossest reality show imaginable the other night. (Okay, probably not the grossest, the way things are going, but certainly in the neighborhood.) They had the wedding at a bar that had a mud pit for patrons to wallow in. The invitations were decorated with a genuine mud hand print. They decorated the plastic arbor with Copenhagen cans.

I'll bet they got a few Boosts as gifts.

Helen Brenna said...

I'm feeling left out. I haven't seen ANY of these commercials!! Then again, it's looking like I should be happy 'bout that.

I can't think of any gross commercials at the moment, and since I'm pretty good at wiping things from my memory ...

I really do appreciate a funny commercial, though. Have a great respect for those ad execs who can entertain and inform in such a short amount of time.

On the other hand, the kind of stuff you've described doesn't take a lot of effort. What blows my mind is that several layers of people signed off on these concepts. Right?

flip said...

I hate both of the aforementioned commercials. Cannibals and long, long underarm hair. But the commercial I hate the most is the popcorn shrimp commercial for DQ. Where the dad is eating his own children. I would never order shrimp from DQ.

I just can't figure out the thought process of the ad people.

Betina Krahn said...

Okay, Kathy, I'm going to have to watch Mad Men to see what it's all about. The scenario you just described sounds like a hoot!

Helen, you know I can kindof see someone coming up with these ideas on the spur of the moment, just a crazy, twisted little laugh. But you're right, layers and layers of people had to sign off on these commercials. They ALL thought it was a great idea?

Popcorn shrimp and dads eating their children-- I think I saw that one and went "Huh? Surely I didn't hear that right."

I think the problem is that some of these new "creative" guys spent waaaay too many of their formative years playing video games in a dark basement!

Estella said...

I have seen them and feel that they are not only gross, but offensive.
I try hard not to watch any commercials.

Tori Lennox said...

I find the Boost Mobile commercials disturbing too. Ugh.

But I adore the Bridgestone Tire commercials. Especially the one with the astronauts. And the mini-romance commercial from Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

Anonymous said...

I posted this morning but since it never showed up, I'm assuming I typed the letters word verification wrong!

I HATE those Boost ads. That "man baby" in the Snugi is just creepy. Makes me either turn away or turn the channel. The other Boost ads are awful but man-baby makes my skin crawl.

I HATE the McDonald's singing fish in the wall. Creepy. Who thought that was a good way to sell fish sandwiches?

I'm probably in the minority, but I love the eTrade talking baby. He makes me laugh.

Debra Dixon said...

I'm so on the fence about the BigPharma or LittlePharma ads for that matter.

I hate not knowing what meds are out there because I hate being at the mercy of any one person to decide what is best for me. Especially when that one person could be accepting gifts and trips from a pharmaceutical company for perscribing certain drugs.

On the other hand, most of us need much more information than you find in a 60 commercial to make any kind of informed decision.

::sigh:: It's a quandry for me.

GunDiva said...

I love the ETrade baby commercials, too! They do crack me up!

Marilyn, the Burger King guy creeps me the "F" out. Eeewww.

Betina Krahn said...

The E-Trade baby is really cute. . . I especially love the one where he hires a clown with his profits... and gets creeped out. :)

Deb, I have mixed feelings about the pharma ads, too. But at leawst they're generally tasteful and don't make me cringe. . .oh, except for that ED ad where the guy smiles like a possum passin' peach seeds. Whew!

Oh, the Burger King guy with his molded plastic face. That commercial where he climbs into bed with the people. . . Ewwwww.

You guys helped me put this into perspective. . . thanks! I hope nobody has nightmares about ham tonight!

Anonymous said...

FYI on Debra's post about knowing your med's - what's out there and what's best for you.

The (US) National Library of Medicine has a wonderful *free* site at www DOT medlineplus DOT gov.

This one (unlike their fee-based subscription service which is called "medline") is for the layperson. You can put in symptoms, diseases, medical terminology, medications, and more. You can see what clinical trials are being conducted on a particular issue. You can get the medical encyclopedia entry - complete with pictures. And they link to other reputable sites like Mayo Clinic.

I highly recommend it.