Category Archives: Adtacular

Recycling Bad Ideas

Last night, I ran across an ad that infuriated me for multiple reasons. It was a commercial for Verizon in which several middle aged dudes play basketball while casually discussing things they’ve done that are clearly poor decisions, the mention of which does not faze any of the participants one bit. Example: “I’ll tell ya what saves gas money: My kids hitch-hiking to school.” Each statement is intercut by a title card that says, BAD IDEA. It concludes with one of the dudes saying he would pick a cell phone company other than Verizon, which is the first time one of these “poor decisions” gives this group of dummies pause. You can watch the whole thing here:

If you’re of my relative age, this will remind you of a classic SNL fake commercial, Bad Idea Jeans. The premise is the same–guys casually discussing ideas that are clearly awful, with no one batting an eye. The setting is the same–guys playing a pickup game of hoops. The periodic title card intercuts are virtually the same. The jokes in the Verizon ad are not as hard edged; the SNL version has lines like “Normally I use protection, but I figured, when’s the next time I’m gonna be in Haiti?” And the original Bad Idea Jeans doesn’t have a “stinger” where one bad idea is considered beyond the pale. Still, the Verizon commercial is 99.9% the same.

This really pissed me off when I saw it last night. But what pissed me off more is the fact that I hadn’t seen any online outrage about this blatant ripoff. And that extends to myself, because once I saw it, I slowly realized, Wait, I’ve seen this Verizon ad before; why haven’t I said anything about this? A tweet on the subject garnered one lone response, while a quick Google search this morning shows some interweb consternation but not anything near what this kind of wholesale lifting should attract.

There are two possibilities as to why this ad has not garnered the seething scorn it deserves, and both are equally depressing. The first is that no one remembers the original. To me, Bad Idea Jeans is a classic SNL fake ad in the same company as Schmitt’s Gay and Colon Blow. In the case of Bad Idea Jeans, it was an oblique parody of an inescapable ad genre of that era, the self-important jeans commercial with superfluously busy camera work. But like all great comedy, the concept contained therein is so odd and perfect, it transcends the source material. You don’t have to know what a Levi’s or Dockers ad looked like in 1990 to find this funny.

To me, this commercial is a piece of our shared cultural fabric. But, I am also old, and it’s possible that many people in Verizon’s target audience– even those old enough to buy cell phone plans for themselves– are completely ignorant of Bad Idea Jeans, having been negative-3 years old when it first aired. I try to not think about the fact that people born in the 1990s are playing professional sports or own houses or have children, but damn it, it’s true. These people are adults, the same as I, yet we do not have quite the same cultural touchstones. Stuff that happened in the early 1990s holds no relevance for them, nor should it, really, and I must accept that.

The other possibility this Verizon ad hasn’t been greeted with more shrieking is that people actually do know from whence it came, but they don’t care. Because we live in such a reference-oriented culture now, one in which decontextualized references are considered jokes in and of themselves. (OHAI, everything Seth McFarlane’s ever done.) So many folks out there in TV Land may interpret this Verizon ad as more of an homage to Bad Idea Jeans than a ripoff. And for all I know, the ad’s creators may honestly see it that way, too. They don’t think they’ve “gotten away” with something; they think they’re playing by the New Rules. What passes for a new idea in the 21st century is being the first guy to complete bite something we’ve seen before.

Maybe I’m just being a cranky Get-Off-My-Lawn-ist here. There’s always been examples of repurposing old bits, joke stealing, concept swiping, and so on. I’m also a person who thinks jarts tweeting about themselves and captioning screengrabs of Dennis Miller is hilarious, so I may not be one to talk when it comes to reference-oriented comedy. Still, it’s hard for me to think we haven’t lost something in terms of what we will accept as entertainment.

Again, look at the original Bad Idea Jeans. It took something viewers of that era would be familiar with–self-serious jeans ads with weird camerawork–and used it as springboard for a truly original idea. Then look at the Verizon ad, which used an old idea as a template to make a reboot, and a much less funny/biting one at that.

And then look at me, the guy who considers himself an amateur ad historian (1980s forward, anyway) and yet couldn’t get mad about this until repeat viewings. Maybe I’m more deadened by this recycled world than I realized.

Oh, You Men

Words can not truly express how little I care for Men. There are individual males who I care for very deeply, but as far as the fate of Men as a whole, what is happening to Men, where have Men been going and where have Men been? Yawn. Gender roles have changed and evolved an awful lot in the last 50 years, and for the better, I’d say. But even if you think not, getting upset about it seems as pointless as yelling at the weather.

For a long time, I thought most folks felt the same way, even accounting for the fact that I live in the grand pansexual paradise of New York City. The grand debates of What Is Man? had largely disappeared from public discourse, I thought, banished to the same dusty corner of the intellectual attic as “Who lost China?!”

But apparently I thought too soon, because lately I’ve noticed a severe flare up of the mentality of WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE MAN-CHILDREN?! Or, at the very least, segments of the media that hope to capitalize on that sentiment. And sadly, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this has happened just as gay rights have made their biggest strides in maybe forever. It seems a very calculated move to prey on the fears and hates of people who are worried that someone somewhere may be doing something that makes them uncomfortable. All while employing a notion of Manliness that would be unrecognizable to previous generations of men.

Continue reading Oh, You Men

Ad Copy for Future 1800 Tequila Commercials

What’s the the deal with shirts these days? All these collars and buttons and other fasteners. Who’s got the time? We’re hard-working men, and men wear simple t-shirts with no more than four holes so you don’t get confused when you try to put them on in the morning and you’re still monstrously hungover. 1800 Tequila’s even simpler: Just one hole on top, so you can pour tequila down your hole, repeatedly, and sweat right through your simple shirt.

* * *

Have you seen tables lately? Painted up in frilly colors like a bunch of cheap whores. A table should be made of wood, with no adornment other than some stain or water seal, so a man can put his feet up on it at the end of the day without feeling like a god damn fruit. And when he puts up those feet, he should do so while enjoying shot after shot of 1800 Tequila. Because Wednesday only comes once a week.

* * *

You know what 1800 Tequila comes with? A shot glass built right into the cap. What man wants to root all over his kitchen counter and through all the dirty dishes in the sink for a shot glass? Especially if he’s already blurry-eyed drunk from drinking all that delicious 1800 Tequila. If your tequila doesn’t have a built-in shot glass, go kill yourself.

* * *

Everybody’s talking about all these different gods these days. Allah, Yahweh, Zoroaster–are you kidding me? What happened to just one god, who smited us with volcanoes and told us to burn unbelievers at the stake? Some men still believe in one god. It’s called 1800 Tequila, and I’m gonna offer up my mouth as a human sacrifice.

* * *

What’s th’deal with firepoles? These hotshot firefighters think they’re too good fer stairs? The rest of us slobs hafta walk up and down stairs n’ you guys get to be Batman? I coulda been a fireman if I wanted. Look at me, I’m turnin on a hose, I’m a hero! Everyone’s really impressed, guys. Bra-fuckin-vo. [slow clap] 1880 Terquilla.

* * *

Debbie? Don’t hang up Debbie, iss me…Yeah, I’m a little drunk, so what?…Lissen lissen lissen lissen, Debbie, you remumber when we went to that roof party and we watched the sunset n’ you said you never wanted it to end? WHY DID YOU LET IT END, DEBBIE?! Fine, I can hang up, too! [throws phone across room] 1880 Quesadilla.

Dominos’ New Shame-Based Menu

dominos.gifWe know that our customers have been complaining about our pizza for years. That’s why we’re taking steps to make Domino’s better. And the first step to getting better is to admit you have a problem.

So we’ll be the first to admit our food is not the best. In fact, it’s pretty horrible. In all honesty, we’ve served you the worst garbage imaginable for decades. We are not legally allowed to refer to Domino’s Pizza as food in 23 states. We wouldn’t feed a starving war criminal the swill we try to pass off as pizza. If you knew half the stuff we put in our sauce, you would beat us within an inch of our lives, and no jury would convict you.

That’s why we gathered all our test kitchen chefs together to give them all of your helpful feedback. We locked them in a windowless, unlit room and projected that feedback randomly on the walls for 15 hours, while “The Flight of the Valkyries” blared at half speed with extra bass boost from enormous speakers. The cooks came out of this experience with a renewed commitment to excellence, at least the few who weren’t driven to the brink of madness.

This brainstorming session also enabled our chefs to tap into some childhood trauma and humiliation that had previously been buried deep within their psyches. And those repressed experiences have provided the inspiration for our brand new menu!

  • Try our new buffalo chicken pizza! The improved blue cheese dressing was the brainchild of chef Greg Sanchez, whose mother threw a full jar of mayonnaise at him in frustration when he was only 6 years old. This incident is deeply imprinted on his brain and is probably the source of his frequent, uncontrollable fits of rage. Comes with a free order of mozzarella sticks!
  • Who doesn’t love the spicy, tangy taste of the Southwest? Chef Marty Bellows doesn’t! He’s still scarred from when his parents took him to a Mexican restaurant and he accidentally peed his pants, but wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom and dry himself off. He still has body image issues and difficulty trusting others. But we trust you’ll love his barbecue chipotle pizza!
  • If you like a more traditional pizza, you’ll love our improved sauce, made with fresh tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, and other hearty ingredients. It’s all thanks to the hard work of chef Denise Russo, or rather her overbearing neat-freak mother, who scolded her when she stained her bedsheets with her first period!

We know you’re gonna love our new menu! Because if you don’t, we’re making our cooks march around the corporate office in their undies!

Holiday Triumphs: More Adtacular! Halloween, 1985

Continuing my pointless quest to digitize every 80s ad I possess, I present this latest collection of commercials from The Vast and Dusty Scratchbomb VHS Archives. The latest batch comes from a tape with material recorded right around Halloween, 1985. Why am I presenting Halloween materials when we’re so close to Christmas? Because many of these ads have holiday relevance. And because I lump Halloween into that Drive To XMas Season. And because SHUT UP IT’S MY STUPID SITE OKAY?!

This first ad definitely has Christmas significance. In it, Alex Karras (aka Webster’s dad) informs parents that they better rush down to their local toy store NOW if they want to get some decent Transformers for the kiddies come December 25. This ad aired very close to Halloween, meaning there were at least seven weeks left until The Big Day. Just in case you thought retailers jumping the gun was a recent phenomenon.

It also features Webster’s dad lip syncing to “robots in disguise”, thus putting it in my top 10 favoritest ads ever.

Continue reading Holiday Triumphs: More Adtacular! Halloween, 1985