Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Madison Avenue thinks you're pretty stupid.

The Glamourous World of Advertising, as invisioned via the television show Mad Men

I've always thought that working in advertising would be kind of a fun job. From the movies and TV shows I've seen that show the ad world, it always appears to be a difficult job for very intelligent and creative people, a world unaccessable to us average Joes. However, in the past few years, I've begun to think that any schmo can do this job, as several ad campaigns that have been unleashed upon the consumer public recently seem to fall somewhere on the scale between uninspired and stupid. I guess in defense of the advertising agencies, think of the average American, and then remember that HALF of all Americans are actually DUMBER than that guy, so perhaps they are actually on to something. Here are a few of the most confounding examples which make me wonder why people are paying any sum on money to Madison Avenue to come up with these uninspired and intellectually bankrupt campaigns.

NCAA - "There are over three hundred thousand NCAA college athletes and almost all of them are going pro in something other than sports." You mean to say that there aren't three hundred thousand professional sports positions that open up each and every year? People are forced to find real jobs after they finish college and they aren't able to go pro in swimming or field hockey? People who enjoy playing sports might want to make something of themselves with a career? How is this an important message that the NCAA spends a ton of money putting forth each year? Does anyone think that every college athlete is going on to pro sports? Can I ever stop asking questions?

Dr. Pepper - The crux of this ad campaign is that Dr. Pepper has 23 different flavors. Apparently this supposed to be impressive. If you include more flavors does that make it better? I am not sure that my tongue can actually distinguish 23 different flavors all at once, and even if it could, so what? I would like for Dr. Pepper to break down what each different flavor is, perhaps include a checklist sheet with each 12 pack that allows me to make a note when I taste each flavor. What are all these flavors? Perhaps most importantly, how come when I drink Dr. Pepper it doesn't taste like 23 different flavors, it tastes like Dr. Pepper? I don't understand the message, and I don't understand how the 23 flavors message is supposed to sell Dr. Pepper.

Bud Light - One of the dumbest concepts ever used to sell beer, and that's really saying something. The entire concept is one word: Drinkability. This one kills me. Drink our beer because, um, well, I guess because it is drinkable. Our beer comes in liquid form and therefore is pourable down your throat. Don't buy Bud Light because it tastes good, or because it's reasonably priced, or because it has high quality, nope. Drink it because it contains the ability to be drank.

Plastic - First of all, I'm not sure why they even feel the need to advertise plastic. I have a hard time imagining that plastic use rises and falls with it's brand awareness. I can't imagine that there are many manufacturers sitting in their factories saying, "If only I had some type of flexible yet firm material that I could use for this product." Then remembering the previous evening while they were watching "Family Guy" and suddenly think, "Oh yeah, Plastics make it possible!" However, every now and then you see a commercial about plastic. This seems like a poor use of money on behalf of the industry, but maybe there is an actual reason to advertise it that escapes me.

Coors Light - This one is a few years old, but is perhaps the golden standard of stupidity when applied to commercials. SURPISE, it's a beer commercial! Coors Light actually had the audacity to make their tag line, "The Coldest tasting beer in America." Look advertising executives, we get it that you think we are remarkably stupid, even dumb enough to spend our money on Coors Light. However, but can you do us a favor hide your condescension towards us a little bit better than this? Only the basest of single celled organisms could be made to believe that the taste of a beer influences it's temperature. If I have this idea straight, they want you to believe that a Coors Light at room temperature will seem as cold as a chilled beer of some other variety due to it's taste? So basically having a refridgerator or ice chest is useless as long as you can engineer your beer's taste to be colder? Does this concept work for heat as well? Will Village Inn start advertising that they have the hottest tasting pancakes in town? I guess if you're searching for a beer, and you are satisfied settling for a Coors Light that it is conceivable that you lack the intellectual fortitude to see through this commercial.

One of the sad truths in life that keeps these advertising executives in business is that every time you think they've finally made something idiot proof, someone comes along and builds a better idiot.

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