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Adverts - John C. Kirk

May. 4th, 2007

02:13 pm - Adverts

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There's a new Snickers advert out, which should appeal to all children of the 80s:

There's a higher quality version here:
but don't go to that site until you've seen the advert once already, because it gives away the surprise.

(By the way, I had to do a bit of faffing to embed a YouTube video; the solution is to ignore the "embed media" option on the posting screen, and the "share this video" link at YouTube. Instead, just copy/paste the embed code that you'll find on the right next to the video on the YouTube site: it's several lines of tags.)

Speaking of adverts, the "Triple Velvet" ones (for toilet paper) have taken an odd turn recently. They started out like this a few years ago:

The basic gimmick was that you had a baby running the factory, dressed in a suit and speaking like an adult. This involved rather obvious use of CGI, which seemed slightly creepy to me, but presumably it was intended to be cute. The newer adverts still have a kid in charge (I think it's now a real toddler with a dubbed voice), but basically acting as you'd expect a child that age to behave. For instance, the adults in the company will be having a meeting, discussing various ideas, and then the boss (kid) comes in and says something like "I want a lollipop", so everything has to grind to a halt. In another recent one, an adult is meeting the boss, and the conversation goes like this:

Employee: "Er, you've got something on your face."
Boss: "Where?"
Employee (gesturing vaguely): "Everywhere..."
Boss: "You're fired."
Employee: "Right, yup."

So, that gives me the impression that this would be a horrible company to work for: the boss is clearly incompetent, presumably appointed by nepotism, actively hinders other people while they're trying to get work done, and fires people on a whim. I can sympathise with the employees, but it doesn't really make me want to buy the resulting product! (I realise that they don't really have a baby in charge of their company, but I'm curious about what the adverts are trying to achieve.)

Edit: Those baby adverts now have their own official website.

Speaking of annoying bosses, Sky have been running lots of adverts for their series Badger or Bust (video clip on that site). This is mainly annoying due to the fact that they repeat it so often. Anyway, the basic idea is that Ruth Badger goes in to help businesses that are struggling. That sounds like a decent premise, and the BBC did something similar with Sir John Harvey-Jones in Troubleshooter about 10 years ago; I never watched it, but I've heard good things about it. However, based on the trailer, "the badger" hasn't impressed me with her management style. Here are some of her words of wisdom:

"I don't care how many heads I've got to duck under the water, you will all drink."
"I'm going to go back and give them a good slap."
"I don't think I'm out of order."

If you're really good at your job, I think you can get away with being rude - fictional examples would be Rodney McKay (from Stargate Atlantis) and Dr House (from House). However, that doesn't mean that you can use rudeness as a substitute for ability.

The Dilbert book "Build a better life by stealing office supplies" offers advice on "How to make your boring job sound dangerous" (p109):

Even the most mundane business activities can sound glorious if you describe them in angry and violent terms. But remember to speak metaphorically, or it will sound silly.

Correct: "I've been putting out fires all day!" "So I said, Don't shoot the messenger!"
Also correct: "It's a bomb waiting to go off!" "Maybe I'll dodge a bullet this time!" "I'll have to fall on my sword if this doesn't work!"
Incorrect: "I wrote a memo and went to lunch!"

In Badger's case, I assume that she doesn't literally intend to act violently towards the office staff, since that would either get her beaten up or arrested. That implies that she's just posturing, rather than actually offering any useful advice. Similarly, it's fine to say "I've been setting targets for years!", but it would be more useful to follow this up with the proportion of those targets that have actually been achieved. It's possible that the program does go into a bit more depth, but the advert hasn't left me with any interest in actually watching it.

A related example of so-called "reality TV" is Project Runway. Again, the trailer has left me with absolutely no interest in watching the program itself, but it seems to be another example of glorifying the worst personality traits in people. The contestants appear to be emotional cripples, and I really think that TV programs like this should stop encouraging them.

Ending on a positive note, I recommend reading this post about Japanese wrestling; they seem to have reached inspired heights of lunacy. The list of title holders includes descriptions like "Ladder fell on wrestler during match and was declared winner", "Pinned at bus stop", "Pinned by chef in hotel"... Great stuff!