Friday, January 4, 2013

Ads by Subtraction

I had high hopes for the 2013 Sugar Bowl. I, just like the Florida Gators, took Louisville too lightly. I was actually nervous because I wasn't feeling nervous at all before the game, but I guess in retrospect I was right to feel nervous even though I was feeling nervous for all the wrong reasons. After realizing early on that this was not going to be the Gators' night, I decided that instead of just watching the 2013 Sugar Bowl (as apparently the Florida Gators were doing), I would make use of my time by studying the commercials. What, you thought I was going to do something productive?

Right off the bat, we have our usual car commercials, beer commercials, cell phone commercials, etc. But here are the ones that stood out, for reasons good or bad.

We kick things off with the All State "mayhem like me" guy, aka Dean Winters, who is now playing a pregnant mom who is commanding her husband to drive through traffic like a lunatic, for the sake of the baby. Winters has also appeared in such shows as Rescue Me, Oz, 30 Rock and Up All Night. One of these shows is not like the others...

The All State commercials with the guys who suddenly speak with the Pedro Cerrano's voice are pretty standard. They attempt to be humorous and mostly come off as harmless. But every time I see one I think: is Dennis Haysbert the new James Earl Jones, with one of the most distinctive, deep voices around? Would Haysbert be the voice of Darth Vader if Star Wars was made today? Will Haysbert ever act in another TV show/movie again or is he happy doing these commercials?

According to IMDB, Haysbert has done mostly voice-over work since The Unit ended, but he has five movies coming out in the works, including a comedy with Jean-Claude Van Damme and a basketball drama with Chris Brown. So there's that.

I have a question about the Taco Bell commercial where the guy brings home an appetizer just for him instead of partaking in chicken wings with his roommates: doesn't that guy look like the biggest d-bag of all time? I would totally go for the chicken wings with the roommates! Doesn't it look like fun? They're hanging out, having a good time, and then there's that tool in the corner eating by himself. Heck, they were even nice enough to ask if he wanted any, and he declined, but did he offer any of his Taco Bell to them? No! I feel like Taco Bell is on its way to a new slogan: Taco Bell: So You Can Eat Alone.

Those AT&T commercials with the guy being sarcastic and a bit of a jerk with the kids are pretty lame. The only one with any redeeming value is the "doing two things at once" commercial, which apparently is called "It's Not Complicated." Makes me laugh every time the guy interrupts the girl and says "hold on, I'm watching this." Did they just stick that guy in a room with kids and tell him to be sarcastic and a jerk?

DirecTV usually has pretty good commercials. Not that they've ever pushed me into getting DirecTV (we looked into it once, but apparently a leaf blocked the satellite and on to cable we went). But I've never been disgusted by DirecTV commercials. The commercials that showed the cause and effect of not having DirecTV, while not great, were at least passable. But these new spots, with the DVR box taking up room in the couple's house, are pretty terrible. The guy completely out-douches even the douche from the Taco Bell commercial. Which I guess DirecTV realized, because now the commercial has more of a Family Guy element to it, that of a flashback to something ridiculous that the person is reminded of while dealing with the happiness or sadness of having or not having DirecTV. Still not getting it, though. We still got leaves.

The first Tostitos commercial, with the restaurant reviewer showing up in the guy's apartment because he has Tostitos chips and salsa, was ok. The following commercials, leading up to the one where the girlfriend comes back home to find out that the apartment is now a restaurant, are mildly amusing. But it took me until watching the commercial on youtube to realize that the spot is about Tostitos Cantina, rather than plain Tostitos. ADD says "what's that?"

Dear Bud Light,

Enough with the Pit Bull commercial. It's terrible. And dumb. It's obvious that he is not listening to his own song when he is "dancing" on stage. Plus his song is horrible. And dumb. It makes me weep for music today.

Sincerely,

Everyone

P.S. Hey Dr. Pepper, do you really think guys feel more manly because they drink something with 10 calories as opposed to zero? I mean, Really? "I was feeling like a bit of a wuss drinking this diet soda, but now that I'm drinking a soda with 10 calories, I feel like a real man!"

P.P.S. Also Dr. Pepper, you know who drinks a soda after a work out? People who are not professional athletes. I.E. not Mikaela Mayer. It's a good premise - the whole "I'm one of a kind, doing what I love not what's expected of me," etc. But how about finishing it with something other than drinking a soda? Because then we're doing what's expected of us, and we're not one of a kind, thus going against everything we saw in the previous 29 seconds.

Two final thoughts on the commercials:

1) did Wendy's replace Wendy with a different Wendy?

b) do actual voice-over actors pitch fits when they hear Robert Downey Jr.'s voice on Nissan commercials, Jeff Daniels on Apple commercials and Tim Allen on Chevy commercials? Well, maybe not Allen - he at least needs the work. But Downey Jr. and Daniels? Really? Making gazillions of dollars in Iron Man movies and speed-talking through an Aaron Sorkin script aren't enough for you guys that you have to take money from hard-working folk who spend hours a month talking into a microphone for a living?

For shame, Downey Jr. and Daniels. For shame.

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