More Problems in Advertising

I’m aware of the value of product packaging. Even with my strive to see through advertisements and their insane efforts (The latest annoyance? A stampable toilet cleaning puck that keeps your bowl clean a WHOLE WEEK!! Wow! Packaging!), I can still see why someone might want their bottle of handsoap to smell pretty and kinda match the decor. Guests and whatever.

But sometimes it goes a little far, such as with this repackaging of Scope.

Old Scope. I'm squat and ugly, please hide me in the cabinet and forget about me.

New Scope. Why yes, I do look like a decanter. Leave me out as almost-decoration on that fancy shelf you installed in the bathroom - and remember every day: Sssscope!

Clever, but unfortunately crosses the line of subtle image shifting to full out obvious gimmick, too blatantly suggesting that purchase of this product is an important stepping stone in your shift from a Just Anyone with mismatched furnishings and a regular toothbrush to a financially cozy, stylish, good looking, whiter teethed One of Them.

Feeling like this?

Buy some of this!

You'll feel like this!

Nice try Scope, but I’m sticking with that fun stuff that makes the crap in your teeth turn bright blue in the sink.

Problems in Advertising

I’ll admit there are some commercials out there that grab me hook, line and sinker. And I have no problem conscientously awarding good advertising. Someone had to think that shit up, and if I need a product, I’m going to give my money to someone who was at least witty or humourous in their efforts to get at my pocket change.

I try very hard not to be an over-consumer. Sometimes I look around, even in my tiny place and think “Why the hell do I have so much STUFF?! I hate stuff!” But let’s face it – at some point I’m going to need a bathroom cleanser, and after that brilliant ad Vim put out where it looked like the mother was in jail but actually cleaning her shower, I’m all for it (provided the product actually works, of course.)

Then there are other ads, the ones I see right through. I give credit for this ability to a minor, elective class I took in high school. Not a university deal, or a even a required credit. I had to pick a class to fill a time slot, and I chose ‘media studies’, with no actual interest in the field. It was a ton of fun and relatively easy, just what I was looking for. But I did learn a hell of a lot, more than in pretty much any other course that semester. I couldn’t tell you jack shit about the quadratic equation, but I can sure call bullshit on the television when I see it.

Here are my latest whiffs of horsecrap for your reading enjoyment.

Downy Simple Pleasures:

Look at me! I'm soft, feminine, and shaped like you wish you were!

The ad begins with “all women have many sides”, and continues to advertise the premise that women can express their various facets by way of scented laundry detergent. Right. Because all of my moods essentially boil down to huffing lavender versus orange when cleaning for my eventual family. Okay, I see no orange, but “Amethyst Mist” is NOT a scent! You know what amethyst smells like? Cold! Because it’s a rock!

Here’s a curveball for you Downy: Can you come up with a scent that effectively captures the feeling of “I really love Josh and can’t wait to get married and have a life and family with him, but sometimes the whole mom/wife thing seems so intimidating that every once in a while I wish I was still sleeping face down on a bare mattress on the floor of a Kensington Market slumhouse surrounded by overflowing ash trays and beer cans?”

No, I don’t think you could.

Palm Pre, or anything iPhone:

More complex technology = cleaner looking ads. This one is so comlpex, her face looks like its been soaked in bleach.

You know what? Believe it or not, I actually DON’T need you to live. In the time it takes you to find the right app (from the gagillion available – including a contraction counter for labouring ladies) and hit that notify button to tell people you’re running late to wherever, I can just as easily flip open my regular old phone and text “crap – run. late15m.” It will be plenty understood, even by those friends without their lifeline affixed to your brandnames. And even without my regular old cellphone, I could just show up late and take casual note that although I prefer to be on time to lifes important dates, in the rare event that I am not, the world will in fact keep on spinning.

Swiffer, Febreze, and pretty much anything else along those lines:






Maybelline Pulse Perfection:

mine can't be the only mind in the gutter...

Um….no. Just no. I’m not putting a vibrating stick near my eyes, especially not when it’s coated with black sticky goo that hurts when it gets in there on its own, nevermind with a micro-drill. But thank you, Maybelline, for being that concerned about my ability to stop traffic with the fluttering of my lashes – like when I’m going “OW! MY EYE!!! DEAR GOD, MY EYE!!! GET IT OUT!!! GET IT OUT, OH GOD!!! WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?!!?” If, in some weird parallel universe I ever succumb to this advert and accidentally remove half my cornea while cat-walking the streets of New York and simultaneously fluffing my lashes, I sincerely hope that another version of myself is around to say “I know why. Because you used that fucking vibrator stick near your face, stupid.” Said other version of myself will then likely go back to pushing a wobbly cart full of newspapers, relish, and other conspiracy theory evidence.


Well, that’s all for now my internet stumblers. I’m going to turn off the tv for the night because any more ridiculous adverts and my head just might explode. That and there’s only two episodes of the Simpsons on per night, and I don’t care about whats on after the second one. I hope you’ve enjoyed my bullshit advertising expose, or at the very least, I’ve prevented you from buying crap you don’t need. Which means more dollaz for the strip club, yo!

What? Who said that? 😉

Inappropriate Uses for Mayonnaise

So this may come as a complete and utter surprise to anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of being graced with my presence during a micro-conniption, but sometimes things get under my skin a little more than perhaps they ought to.

Today’s culprit is mayonnaise.

At first I was pissed at Hellmann’s mayo, with it’s innocuous claims of support for the ‘real food movement’ and it’s warm-toned commercials featuring healthy looking, natural hair coloured people lavishing their appreciation for such a fine, locally grown product with more sincerity and emotion than anyone should feel towards a condiment.  I couldn’t find the Canadian version on youtube, but the UK version isn’t much better.

Imagine our version as less preppie and more organic-cotton-hip, undeniably aimed at the urban, young adult, go-green culture. I watch it and go ‘woooooaaaah Toronto’ (or maybe Vancouver, they seem pretty hip and earthy too.) I don’t mind this culture – I’ve got a solid food planted in it. I just hate being pandered to, and this is how Hellmann’s pissed me right the hell off.

Hey social and/or environmental activists, we're your brand!

In fact, when a saw a second commercial regarding mayo that pissed me off a little bit extra, I was confounded for hours trying to find it on youtube before I realized it wasn’t even Hellmann’s. I’d been blinded with disdain for them because I consider ‘buy local, eat real food’ to consist of shopping at farmers markets when available, not choosing one massive corporation over another. I am all about growing your own food or supporting Canadian farming – but not paying six levels of middle-men advert execs in the process. Anyways, with all this fist-shaking, I hadn’t even noticed an even more irritating culprit.

Miracle Whip.

Have you seen this ad?


Yeah. For reals, yo.

To get the full effect, you can watch the whole commercial here. I know, I know, it’s a pain sometimes to click links and follow them. But this one wasn’t on youtube either, and I can’t embed it in wordpress. I’m just glad I found it, so just click on it, por favor. It’s a thirty second commercial, and you’ll probably get the gyst of it about halfway through.

So! Continuing on then.

Dear Various Mayonnaise Producers:

You make a condiment. It goes nicely on my sandwich, in potato salad or in devilled eggs.  And these are all lovely, appropriate and often delicious uses for your product. However, that’s pretty much the extent of it.

Mayonnaise, the average person would agree, should not be used as a thick, fattening conduit for the voice of a generation. And on that note, what exact voice do you think we have? That we’re so principled about “keeping it real” that we’re going to get up in arms if you have the nerve to suggest we change the ingredients of whatever we’re bringing to a picnik? “Don’t eat the egg salad Janine brought, she buys her food from THE MAN!”

I don’t care how organic or special or real or hardcore you think your shit is. It’s MAYO!!! Nobody dips their fist in it and then walks around with their sticky digits held high up in the air crying “Death to Capitalism!” It just doesn’t happen.

Hellmann’s – I’m not a total hippie, seeing as I too have my fair share of over processed crap sitting on the shelves. But in my ongoing efforts to avoid being a hypocrite, I’ve gone through your website in an attempt to find out where you do in fact get your ingredients. Your eggs are ‘free range’, a term thrown around all too casually and often paired up with lush imagery of green grass, clear skies and sunlight.

We're totally on your side

By the way, this is considered 'free range'

Oh, and I’ll be damn sure to ask my local farmers the next time I’m out buying berries if they happen to have any calcium disodium EDTA. Yeah, that’s nice and local.

Also Hellmann’s, you’re owned by Unilever. Just like Dove, Axe, Knorr, and every other major brand trying to sell itself as something special in their ongoing effort to make a buck. Look, if you’re out to make money, just say so. If you’re of the opinion that birds are put on this earth to be cooped up and fed to us, then fine. Just don’t lie to my face about it.

And you, Miracle Whip. It seems you’re trying evoke the mental words of ‘punk’ or ‘rebel’ or dare you say ‘anarchy’. You with your smarmy faux attitude and slightly rakish young lady – can’t be hardcore with long hair, can you? Are you trying to be hip? Are your lined up little jars going to start sporting skinny jeans if this latest campaign to thwart your do-good competitors falls short? I say again to you – MAYONNAISE!!! You want to be Gen-Y? Here’s Gen-Y: we’ve grown up with the internet and enough information to understand how marketing is driven – well enough to see through your crafted appeal to our embittered habit of spending money on things that say we’re too cool to spend money on things. You’re the salad dressing version of buying an anarchist t-shirt at the mall.

So I’m eschewing mayo. Too much damn aggravation. Do you want to know how you can tell if something is real? If you can’t stack it on the shelf for an eerily long amount of time. And how to tell if something is unique, special, and ‘not toned down’? Make it your damn self, that’s how.

Oil and eggs, people. Throw in some mustard and get a blender!

Weird Advertising Tags

Do you ever hear an ad once in a while that makes you stop and go “wait, what?” I do. All the time. I am fascinated with advertising in that it’s really no more than a brilliant, manipulative – almost brainwashing, really – tactic to push our dollars around the world. There are days when I think I should have gone into advertising, but then there are days when I’m pretty sure I could be an expert sculptor.

I love good advertisements and will go out of my way to reward good advertising. Shit, I’ve got buy some type of kitchen cleaner. And you can’t test them out like you can with makeup (like the back of my hand looks anything like my face, thanks). Might as well try the one that made you think “Ha! That is awesome!”

But in my constant quest for good ads, I seem to hear a lot of those usually underbudgeted weird ads with the weird slogan, or tag, or whatever you call that last little punchline. Like that jeweller by the Buffalo airport, where a diamond won’t cost you “an arm and a leg” (mannequin limbs jostled merrily towards the camera) Really? Limbs? That’s your…that’s your selling point, eh? Okay, just checking. You sure? You’re sticking with it? Alright then.

“Garaga – a choice you’ll never regret.” Garaga does garage doors, did you guess? It’s not really weird so much as…well it’s sort of like starting your resume with “I ain’t never been to jail.” (And yes, I’ve seen that resume, on Craigslist.) Yeah, sure, they’ll probably want to know your history at some point, but is that really what you want to focus on here? You won’t regret us, honest! Now just…just give us your wallet.

There’s a dentist’s office that advertises on the subway. Apparently they specialize in kids, and I can see how you would want to emphasize that. A mother wants to know, when choosing a doctor for little Johnny’s diseased molars, if the waiting room will have fun fuzzy toys or an ominous, massive fish tank that her kids will get yelled at for tapping. But their slogan was “We like kids and they love us.” Totally great and innocent until my brain comes along and starts wondering “Why the difference, the specific choice of love vs. like? Do you not enjoy the children as much as they appreciate you? Are you being swamped with little tots that you really think are just kind of – meh – okay?” And you’ve got to be careful when talking about your affection for children, what with pedophiles lurking around every corner. Or at least pedophile jokes. No, not the dentist for me.

This last one wasn’t so much of a punchline as a general idea. It was for one of those men’s de-grayifier “we swear you’re not just dying your hair” dealios. This slightly older gentleman is sitting in a well-appointed living room for a charming afternoon of reading or whatever. And these two somewhat adorable girls appear with great purpose and say “Dad, it’s time! You’ll make a really good catch for someone!” And they wave a box of de-grayifier at him.




Are you serious? Wow, what a market. Widowers CLEARLY in need of a babysitter – how the hell did those girls get a hold of that shit without his knowledge? Did they leave the house unattended at get it from the store? Did they swipe it from the shelves while he was buying their Barbie Bubblegum toothpaste? Klepto bastards! And hi, um, maybe it’s a little weird that your eight year old is suddenly super interested in your extra-curricular activities.

And finally, a commercial that while lacking in bizarre tags, certainly lends itself an air of “you can’t be serious.”

Terrific. Terrrrrrific.