Look, no one likes advertising, but it’s something that we’ve been either trained or brain washed to accept in exchange for our entertainment. I get funny moving pictures, they get to make a play for my money. There are entire piles of research done on how advertising affects the brain, on how effective various types of advertising are. There are a couple approaches that seem to work pretty well from a casual, end user’s perspective. Advertising in a highly entertaining way not so subtly creates a positive connection in your mind with that product. And that’s not even particularly nefarious, it feels almost like an exchange. You made me laugh, in return I think slightly more favorably about your diet soda.
The other way is by going the subtle but inescapable route. Make sure everyone sees your logo out of the corner of their eye every single day, and they can’t help but have heard of your product. And we’re more likely to buy a product we’ve heard of than one we haven’t, even if we can’t put a finger on a particularly positive impression, just the mere recognition.
Advertising on Internet television has the potential to be ludicrously more effective than other ads by simple virtue of targeting. It doesn’t even have to be creepy “your browser history indicates that you may be interested in jumbo size adult diapers” sorts of targeting. It can be as simple as making your experience with advertising less irritating because they don’t give you the ads that irritate people in your demographic.
That potential has failed, and instead I find myself watching the exact same ads over and over again every time I watch a video online. I hate these ads. They are irritating and so pervasive that they have had the exact opposite effect of what advertising is supposed to have. They are making me remember their products so that I never ever buy them. Congratulations companies, you are now spending your money to convince me not to buy your products.
First up is Absolut vodka’s odd attempt at a music video:
Congratulations, I hate your laid back overly produced dribble of half-audible lyrics that you try to masquerade as depth. I would have normally not cared enough about it to bother hating it before forgetting about it, but now you have to show up in front of every other video on Hulu, along with another clip of you musing on just how mind blowing your creative process is and how Absolut vodka totally was part of that before they cut you a check. Fuck you and fuck your overly priced rubbing alcohol with seventy different varieties of high fructose corn syrup added to make it appeal to people who think hard alcohol is supposed to have a flavor besides burn. If the label isn’t in cyrillic, it’s not vodka.
Next is this one trying to convince people to vote.
No, no, I don’t gotta do this, I don’t gotta do that. Every time this commercial comes on, after each person starts their little “I gotta…” sentence, I yell “GOTTA GET UP TO GET DOWN” at my computer screen and drown out their message of democratic responsibility. Advertising, destroying democracy since before the revolutionary war (seriously, there’s a Ben Franklin quote about it).
And don’t forget the Bing challenge:
Oh look, Microsoft is spending piles of money trying to convince people that their copycat product is better than the original. The only thing that changes is what random product is losing to companies people like better. I’m convinced that Microsoft’s complete inability to advertise effectively is because advertising people all use Macs and their first loyalty is always to their emperor. I assume this ad is for the new Microsoft Douchebag, because that is the most prominent part of the video.
And finally, the one that really pisses me off, the one that I believe I’ve seen in every single Hulu video for the last three weeks, usually at every single commercial break, the Ford speed dating commercial:
You know what generic hot blonde lady? Big Dan is awesome. I would have his fantasy football loving, sports trivia winning, mad fist bumping teddy bears of babies in a heart beat. And “look like my ex-girlfriend” guy? Yeah, that’s awkward, but that means that socially awkward as he is, this guy’s last girlfriend was mad hot. He’s got some hidden talents for reeling them in that would probably blow your closed mind into the next county. And the guy building a time machine? Fuck yeah. These guys? Big Dan, The Linguist, and the Doctor? I want to have these guys over for dinner.
But oh no, not you generic hot blonde lady, you have nothing but eye rolls and mockery for this fine selection of original and interesting specimens. Oh no, you save the purr for an expensive haircut named Jake with a Ford key chain.
“Oh, I was just looking at a Ford” said no one ever.
There are approximately 50 million Fords on American roads. Liking someone because they drive one is like getting excited because someone wears jeans. It says nothing about personality, interests, or compatibility. In fact, all it really says in this instance is that a guy is so full of himself for so little justification that he not only bought a Ford keychain, but that he feels a need to flaunt it. “Yeah, baby, that’s right. I drive an average automobile with no personality just like millions of other people.” [heavy breathing] “And I also like to watch television and eat pizza.”
Fuck both of you. I hope you get married and have perfectly mediocre joyless lives, revelling only in thinking you’re better than people with actual personality. And I hope you have perfectly mediocre children who you drive to school in your perfectly mediocre SUVs. But then you’re going to have an accident, and you’re going to get knocked up after you thought you were done. And your youngest kid is going to be weird, and wear glasses, and read too much, and get picked on by perfectly mediocre kids at school.
And that is going to be the universe’s revenge. It will give you a child who your dim and small mind can never quite understand, except that you somehow realize that perfectly mediocre people, like you have always been, are the ones who make life hell for your perfectly non-mediocre child. And for the first time in your life you will dare to dream of more than mediocrity but it will be forever tainted by the guilt, the terrible guilt, that you always feel embarrassed by your youngest child.
And I hope you remember then, when your youngest goes off into the world to be something fantastic and stops calling his perfectly mediocre mother, and you are left with the ashes of life watching perfectly mediocre television with your perfectly mediocre haircut of a husband, that you chose this life because of a goddamned Ford keychain.
Yeah, Ford, pencil me in for one of those new 2013 models.