Wednesday, December 05, 2007

WHAT'S WRONG WITH ADVERTISING



The most striking thing about modern ads is that they don't attempt to sell anything that you can easily buy. Old ads sold soap, soup, cereal, gum, cigarettes, beer and coffee --cheap and easy to get hold of things you could buy at the local supermarket. New ads sell prescription drugs, expensive cars, erectile disfunction pills, insurance, and credit cards. I don't get it. Why waste time and money advertising things that people can't impulsively run out and buy?





Have you noticed that there's no Coke commercials on TV anymore? And where are the soap ads? People still have to buy soap, don't they? No doubt this is the result of market studies, but what studies? I'd like to read them. Maybe feminists and generic brands have something to do with it, but wait a minute...people still have to shop and we all know the generic brands don't taste as good...think about generic Cheerios...Ugh! So where are the name brand food commercials? Why are we advertising pills that require a doctor's visit to get, or cars that we buy only once every ten years?





By the way, I put up these commercials because they're each so interesting in their own way. The Coke commercial is just a straight sales pitch...no dancing girls, no frills...and yet it works! I was salivating for Coke while I watched it! Ditto the Camels commercial. A bizarre woman, shot frontally and in the middle of the screen by a nailed-down camera, holds our attention perfectly by the force of her personality and her weird articulation. Amazing!


And the Cools ad...wow! That girl on the beach is hilarious! What a gloriously cheap and fun-to-parody commercial! None of these have anything to do with the theme of this post but I thought you'd like to see them anyway.








For those who stuck with me this far...a reward: two scenes from "How To Get Ahead in Advertising," one of the most literate films I've seen in recent years. Hope you like it!

25 comments:

Joe said...

Great post, Eddie! Love the "Lady be Cool" song.

Pat McMicheal said...

I'm with you on this one! I analyze all commercials and discuss them with my kids to help them understand the horse shit behind the message.
It seems there is nothing for sale anymore besides huge trucks,SUV's and beer. Perhaps the Air-Time is too expensive for the small product these days.
Many of them are carefully crafted to appeal to women by making the male character look like a friggin idiot while the female has all the answers.
I've also observed many ads showing minorities being served by white men or even making the white man seem like a stupid ass.
And the total absence of WHITE MALE characters in ANY commercial.
Who does this really serve?

Anonymous said...

I want a job in advertising just so I can say "I dont need to look at the market research!" and than paint a grotesque verbal picture of our target demographic. Even if our client is a babyfood maker.

That line is the "take em away boys" of the ad world

Adam said...

You can still get up front advertising from days of yore from local furniture stores, God bless 'em. 'Come down to Furniture City, where you can buy this complete living room set, one full sized sofa, love seat, two end tables, and a coffee table for only 899.99, and do the other guys give you two free table lamps? I doubt it.'

I think the cause of most crappy advertising is that commercials are made by wannabe Hollywood directors looking to build up their reels so they pretend to be Ridley Scott for 30 seconds.

Basically the production companies are selling themselves instead of selling the product.

pappy d said...

Cool post!

I love that movie. To anyone who hasn't seen it: it's really on-target & also darkly funny.

I wonder if the spots have to do with what you watch on TV these days. All the products you mention seem tailored to your demographic. You've already struggled & resolved the question of whether you prefer Coke or Pepsi. Guys in their late teens who are developing brand loyalty to a particular beer probably don't see a lot of Viagra ads.

Does the lady of the house still see ads for detergent & feminine hygiene?

Of course, I'm just talking out my butt here, but it seems like years since I saw a commercial for sugared cereal. Maybe it's part of the trend away from marketing to a general (family) audience.

pappy d said...

Cool post!

I love that movie. To anyone who hasn't seen it: it's really on-target & also darkly funny.

I wonder if the spots have to do with what you watch on TV these days. All the products you mention seem tailored to your demographic. You've already struggled & resolved the question of whether you prefer Coke or Pepsi. Guys in their late teens who are developing brand loyalty to a particular beer probably don't see a lot of Viagra ads.

Does the lady of the house still see ads for detergent & feminine hygiene?

Of course, I'm just talking out my butt here, but it seems like years since I saw a commercial for sugared cereal. Maybe it's part of the trend away from marketing to a general (family) audience.

casey said...

Girl's Costume Commercial

I do all my shopping at Nick's Warehouse.

I second Eddie and recommend HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISTING for those adventurous viewers out there. WITHNAIL & I, another Bruce Robinson film, is also worth a look.

I.D.R.C. said...

I've also observed many ads showing minorities being served by white men or even making the white man seem like a stupid ass.

That was my idea. Been waiting for decades.

Chris S. said...

When prescription drugs now have the cartoon icons that our cereal used to - there's a real problem!!!

That second clip of HTGAIA is absolutely brilliant! I'll have to keep an eye out for that film - it was recommended to me awhile back and I forgot all about it.

Side note: I think I've fallen in love with that Camel smokin' opera singer.

pappy d said...

I apologise for the redundancy, for which I am truly sorry.

pappy d said...

I apologise for the redundancy, for which I am truly sorry.

Lester Hunt said...

I'm constantly amazed at how many adds now do these odd little narratives that have little to do with the product. Sometimes you don't even know what the product is until the very end. Do these things actually sell the stuff they are supposedly advertising? Are the supposedly smart execs who pay big bucks for these things just being ripped off?

erik griott said...

i have a new favorite monologue. im gunna animate it now...

Elliot Cowan said...

It is true there aren't many Coke ads here in the US, but in Australia and the UK they play them all day long.

Also - there's a great book of interviews with the director of How TGAGIN (I fergit his name).
He speaks in detail about the production of the film.
I'll try and dig out the name if you care for it.

Dooley said...

Hey Eddie, have you ever seen the movie "Crazy People"? Dudley Moore plays a burnt out ad executive who starts making no-nonsense honest ads.

Here are some of them:

Crazy People

This only slightly related to the topic, but at least the ads are funny.

Kali Fontecchio said...

"Have you noticed that there's no Coke commercials on TV anymore"

Mike (the cameraman on Saturday) just made one! I helped him too! I helped up the reflector flag hahaha- I'll put up a shot on my blog in a few days to show you!

david gemmill said...

i think its because you don't need to have commercials for already successful household name-brand products. plus prescription drugs and cars cost more money. its all about making people feel incompetent and insecure. like their dick doesn't work, their allergies are disgusting or their car isn't new enough.

Kris said...

I actually see a LOT of commercials for food, especially take-out food like pizza or hamburgers. Stuff you'd run out and get to eat immediately while watching TV. There ARE a lot of commercials for Cheerios geared toward adults, focusing on health benefits of the cereal. Pepsi and Coke still play commercials now and then, but it's not as common as it used to be. Maybe people buy Pepsi and Coke whether there are commercials on or not--the brand awareness (which is what ads are for to begin with) is already there.

I don't think it's necessarily irrational to make commercials for cars and drugs. In the case of cars, people considering a new car may be swayed by a sale or the cool features of a particular car that they see on a commercial. Even if they aren't getting a car now, they'll get a message about the brand--that tough guys buy this type of car, or rich sophisticated guys buy this other type.

With the drugs, well, that's nothing short of brilliant. Before that, patients had to go in to their doctor with a complaint, and the doctor would recommend a particular drug. How could the pharmaceutical companies make more sales? By getting a name brand out there that people could ask for, for problems that they wouldn't have even gone to a doctor about before! Viagra, anyone?

Lester Hunt said...

BTW, to test Eddie's observation about what ads are about nowadays, I took notes on two ad segments on the Food Network (the only channel I ever watch). Products advertised: a headache remedy, a car, an airline, a breakfast cereal (Honey Bunches o' Oats), a fastfood restaurant, a Jewelry Chain store (emph. on diamonds), an internet service that sells cars, an employment agency. Of the eight, only two could be impulse-buys. So far, looks like Eddie is right. As usual!

Soos said...

Eddie, I see ads for soap and such all the time. Maybe all you see are drug commercials because you're watching TV shows for old people.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>Many of them are carefully crafted to appeal to women by making the male character look like a friggin idiot while the female has all the answers.
I've also observed many ads showing minorities being served by white men or even making the white man seem like a stupid ass.
And the total absence of WHITE MALE characters in ANY commercial.
<<

It's good that you're teaching your kids about the unfair treatment of the WHITE MAN, who have traditionally been such an underrepresented group in the US. It's bad enough that they have to live in a segregated society that devalues their existence, but to have to suffer the cruel caricatures and stereotypes in addition is just insult to injury. (Not to mention the actors who are a traitor to their sex and race by "WASPin' it up" for THE MAN.)

Perhaps someday this apartheid against the caucasian male will end, and they will finally share in the power structure that women and minorities have enjoyed for so many centuries. Maybe a white male will even be President someday.

Until then, raise your fist in defiance and shout, "We shall overcome!"

Anonymous said...

you've been watching the old fogies network. That is why you see all the insurance and pill ads.

The cola ads still exist, but they are on the young whippersnappers network. Coke et al just figure you are already hooked if you are past a certain age . There are even soap ads and ads for cheese, but they are on daytime tv, which someone must figure is for stay at home housewives, when it may just be the unemployed.

There are even ads for sugar coated cereals during cartoons, but the spokescharacters are too busy telling you to exercise , trying to avoid some sort of class Action suit from moms against chubby kids.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Soos, Lester, Elliott, Kris: Good Grief! Maybe you're right! I watch mostly the history, science and classic movie channels and maybe the ads there aren't typical!

Casey, Dooley: Let me check out those links!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Casey, Dooley: Ha! Great links! Now I've got to look up "Withnail!"

Some Guy said...

Eddie, I don't recommend watching too much MTV to compensate...just one episode of The Hills and you'll blow a gasket and then it's all over for humanity (and the blogosphere).