Monday, May 14, 2012

Toyota Corolla's Quality Lunch

Alright all you New Yorkers, or anyone else familiar with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygene's restaurant inspection letter grading system. Toyota feels your pain.

We've all been there.  You've found the best of the best--the lunchtime cuisine that you'll be gushing over for weeks.  You'll brag to all of your coworkers about finding a foodie paradise.  But then you see it.

If you're lucky "it" is a large, green "B" in the window. If you're not, "it" is a large, orange "C." Orange, as in DO NOT EAT THIS, UNLESS IT IS AN ACTUAL ORANGE OR A CARROT.

Only sadness follows.  Well, sadness and a fear of what fate might befall you over the next few hours.  Your foodie hotspot is rife with disaster.  It takes more than 14 sanitation violations to earn a "B" grade.  It takes over 28 violations to earn a "C." And although I can't speak for them all, it appears many C's include problems with either roaches or droppings.  I'll let you imagine the rest.

So, like I said, we've all been there.  And Toyota feels your pain.

Bon appetite! And safe driving.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

L'Absurdité of L'Odyssée de Cartier

This isn't the post I was meant to write tonight.  The post I began is still sitting there, waiting for me to finish it.  But I decided to take a break and watch the latest episode of The Celebrity Apprentice. Frankly, I'm disappointed in this season's women and I'm rooting for George Takei, my favorite Facebook celebrity friend (who seems to be in danger this episode)... But I digress.

We record The Celebrity Apprentice and watch it on a delay so we can fast forward through the commercials and catch up on some other shows on Sunday nights. Sometimes, when a commercial catches my eye, I skip the fast forward. Yes, viewers, I'm willing to sacrifice my time and my sanity in order to bring you the best, strangest, and most interesting spots that TVland has to offer.

Tonight, at commercial break #2 or #3, the first moments of this commercial caught my eye before my thumb could hit the fast forward button on my remote.  I was mesmerized and my curiosity took over.  I just had to see more, and I needed to know where this sparkly wild cat was going to take me.

So here's tonight's offering. It's the latest from Cartier, entitled L'Odyssée de Cartier.  And this mini-movie clocks in at 3 minutes and 31 seconds, so grab your popcorn.

What just happened? 3:31 later, I still don't have a clue. This commercial makes me feel like an absolute crazy person.  Every time you start to feel like a plot might be forming, the ad shifts, the cat jumps into another world, and everything is turned upside down.

I thought it was strange, but manageable until the dragon appeared.  That was when I realized I was truly lost.  When the "short film" was over (remember, I have trouble calling these short films, as I noted in my post the Chipotle epic), I began to shout at the television screen. I'm still puzzled.  And I'm happy to announce that I don't get it.

I mean, the jeweled cat is gorgeous from the start.  Cartier seems to refer to it as a panther, but I always thought panthers were completely black, not spotted.  I thought this was more of a leopard or a cheetah.

Regardless, I love the piece in the window display.  And after watching tonight's Celebrity Apprentice, the spot seemed perfectly placed to compliment an episode centered around designing Ivanka Trump's window displays at Lord & Taylor for her clothing, shoes, and jewelry line.  Points for that, Cartier. I get that you are sophisticated and striving towards high art. But must you make me feel... dérangé in the process?

I like the cat.  I like the cat coming alive. I like the cat going on adventures that happen to conveniently intersect with moments that promote the brand (woman wearing diamond ring, woman wearing fancy bracelet, giant clock face and watches reading "Cartier"). But most of it is less obvious, like the giant gold rings rolling down the cliff.  They are a shift from our now real cat in a real world back into some kind of fantasy. The metallic dragon is a strange, beautiful creation that turns into the Great Wall of China.  I admit I don't quite understand these elements. Better than those, there's a jeweled world of trinket wonders that our cat enters.  It is reminiscent of The Secret [Jeweled] Garden. I love the little jeweled alligator and jeweled snakes. There's something about this moment in the spot that is delicate and precious in a way that is perfect for the brand.

But then our cat wanders out and we realize he's on an elephant's back.  What?
Kitty jumps off the elephant and on to an old timey flying contraption.  I like the plane and the pilot quickly flashes his classic timepiece at the camera. Ahh, ok, it's starting to feel like a commercial again.  Timeless elegance, check. Show the product, check. Phew, familiar territory. So familiar, in fact, that our pilot takes back to recognizable lands--Paris. Kitty meanders into a lovely woman's parlor and is greeted like your average house cat, with one distinct difference. When you pet this cat, you don't get a fistful of cat hair, you get a palmful of diamonds.

Okay, I'm staying with you so far, Cartier. It's hard, but I've done everything I can to buying into this crazy world you've created.  But you absolutely lose me in the final beat. The pretty lady and our cat disappear into a jewelry box.  What!?!

I wanted our panther/cheetah/leopard friend to go back to the little pedestal where it all began.

It should have gone full circle. I was bewildered and puzzled at the conclusion of this mini-movie.  If I had been eating popcorn (as I should have been), I would have gagged on it. Three minutes and thirty-one seconds of insanity. At least it's a pretty, sparkly insanity.

The Ratings:
Appeal: B-
Effectiveness: B
Longevity: B-


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gevalia Wants You to Fika with Johan, He's Got Your Feet

Here at And Now a Word From Our Sponsors, we've had quite the international audience.  You are cosmopolitan.  You are sophisticated. And you're located throughout the globe. Today, we'll be focusing our collective gaze at our friends in Sweden for bringing us the latest in coffee hawking technology.

In order to bone up on Sweden, and so that I could appear to be more knowledgeable on the subject, I Googled "Swedish things" --I know! A stroke of genius. Google brought me to "Katja's" post on the Top 15 Swedish things on this Swedish Blog.

Here they are:

1. ABBA- the 70's pop group that stole our hearts with hits like "Mamma Mia" and "Dancing Queen," and took Europe by storm after winning the fairest contest of them all, Eurovision.

2. IKEA- King of cheap furniture with completely unpronounceable names. I love my poang chair!

3. Pippi Longstocking- According to the official gateway to Sweden's website, Pippi is a Swedish rebel and feminist role model. Take that, Little Orphan Annie.

4. Beautiful Blond Women- Oh the horrors of Googling for blonde Swedish women.  These two have on the most clothing by far. Swedes are blonde and beautiful. Get over it.

5. Volvo- Vroom vroom sounds like Swedish to me.

 6. Vikings- I thought the Vikings were Norwegian.  In fact, most things that are Swedish I find I've confused for Norwegian. Sorry, Swedes.

7. Nobel prize- International prestige awaits for those the Swedes deem worthy.  Actually, I'm pretty sure the Swedes don't decide this unilaterally, but wouldn't that be fun?

8. Absolut Vodka- reasonably priced, delightful vodka.  Thank you, Sweden.  And kudos on Absolut Brooklyn. I approve.

9. Gamla Stan (The old city in Stockholm)

10. Socialism- According to Wiki, the Swedes practice a mixed market economy characterised by a more generous welfare state aimed specifically at enhancing individual autonomy, ensuring the universal provision of basic human rights and stabilizing the economy.

11. Annas pepparkakor- This a popular brand of Swedish ginger snap like cookies.  Now I really want to try them! They look yummy.


12. Kanelbullar- This is a Swedish cinnamon roll, topped with pearl sugar.


13. Swedish Chef (from Sesame Street)- Ooorgie boorgie!

14. Snow- They didn't invent it. They aren't the only ones who get it. But apparently they get enough of it to make it a national treasure.

15. Lucia- I remember celebrating St. Lucia's day in kindergarten. One of the girls in my class got to dress up as her for a procession through the school.  I was jealous.

Thanks, Katja! Now we know.  Oh, to have ABBA as your country's top thing! Now that we've had our little lesson in all things Swedish, it's time to meet Johan. Johan is trying to make himself and Gevalia coffee (or kaffe) #1 on that list.  You can imagine the trouble of trying to top ABBA, so Johan has his work cut out for him. Johan is no mere spokesperson.  Johan is the kaffe gigolo. Gevalia has put Johan in a series of steamy, saucy kaffe kommercials.  Ack! The Swedishness is kontagious! I'll toss in some extraneous k's in honor of our nation of the day. 

Let's take a look at the first spot: Fika.

Don't worry reader, it's not your fault. Gevalia and Johan totally set you up on this one. First, there was the exotic four letter word, konveniently starting with an F.  Second, there was a series of ridiculous images from unzipping pants to that bizarre "massage." Third, there's Johan the kaffe gigolo.

Thankfully, Wikipedia can konfirm that a fika really is a kaffe break. Check out this amazingly Swedish fun fact: Traditionally, fika requires sweet, baked goods, especially cinnamon rolls. According to Helene Henderson, author of The Swedish Table, one needs three items minimum to avoid insult to Swedish guests; "to impress, serve a variety of seven freshly baked items--and be ready to talk about the weather." Yikes, these Swedes take their fika very seriously.

Next up: Motorcade.

This is the commercial I actually saw on TV.  This is the one that inspired me to do my homework and write this post.  Why? Because, I have become a stereotype.  Yes, readers, I'm one of those women who whines on a near daily basis for her husband to rub her feet, like someone out of an early 90's sitcom. If Johan's got my feet, I hope he gets to work on them soon.  This is definitely my favorite of the bunch.    

Let's meet Johan in the office.

Finally, Johan likes your curves.

The main theme that runs throughout these ads is that Johan is Sweden's answer to Joe. These ads are trying to get Americans to hop ship from American coffee for Sweden's kaffe.  When I think American "cup of Joe," my mind jumps directly to Dunkin Donuts and Fred the Baker.  Fred is the ultimate personification of a cup of Joe.

Fred was the classic product spokesperson.  For those who remember the old Dunkin Donuts commercials, you'll never forget Fred rising at the crack of dawn to his tagline, "Time to make the donuts." That was one hardworking American.  As a kid, those donuts were the ultimate treat.

As you can probably tell, I am a huge fan of Dunkin Donuts and their coffee.  I'm drinking a cup of it right now as I type this.  We frequently make Dunkin coffee at home now that they've bagged up the good stuff and started selling it in supermarkets.

The thing is, I've never actually tried Gevalia kaffe.  Good commercials (or kommercials) are supposed to make you curious about a new brand.  This set certainly works.  I'd be open to trying out some Gevalia--especially with promises of foot rubs.  But I'm pretty in love with my Dunkin coffee.  It would take something incredible to konvert me.

So the verdict? Johan, I love your commercials.  But I think I might be a Joe type girl. We'll have to wait and see...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Run For Your Lives! It's a Zombie 5K!

Today's post at And Now a Word From Our Sponsors comes courtesy of my friend, Thom.  Yes, Thom spells his name like Thom Yorke from Radiohead, so I've always liked Thom.  Having Thom as a friend makes me feel like I'm friends with a rock star.  But Thom Yorke, if you're out there reading, I'd love to be your friend, too.

P.S. I'm a huge Radiohead fan.

Back to today's topic... Last week Thom suggested I write about this commercial.  You see, Thom is a freak.  Thom likes to be super healthy.  Once, Thom told me about a new diet he was trying where he had to eat like a caveman.  He basically survived on nuts and berries. I thought Thom was insane.  Thom also likes to run. But not like normal people run.  When Thom runs, its through crazy obstacles courses like this one called "Muddy Buddy." In Muddy Buddy races, you and a partner run a bunch of miles through a bunch of obstacles and finish in a giant mud pit.  Romantically, Thom did this race with his wife.

So, knowing Thom is clinically insane and likes to do things that I would consider to be torture, when I first heard of "Run For Your Lives," I immediately went to Thom.  Another fun fact, Thom is obsessed with zombies in a way that I have never known another human to be obsessed with a thing.  Okay, I might be overstating it, but only just. If you haven't encountered it, Run For Your Lives is a 5K where you are pursued by zombies.  Some zombies run.  Some of the zombies stumble around confused.  But all of them want to eat your brains.  The runners wear flags (like in flag football) that represent their health.  The zombies try to grab them off of you. In order to fully qualify for awards and prizes, you have to complete all the obstacles and still have a health flag on you when you cross the finish line. The website warns you to run smart, or else you can turn this 5K race into a 10K.  

Little did I know that this fun, rather underground event created a television commercial that ran before the premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead.

I've never watched the show, but know that it's about a zombie apocalypse--clearly a great place to advertise for a zombie 5K.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, I present to you "Run For Your Lives!"

Fun, right?  No.  Terrifying. Frankly, I'm not a runner, so this isn't for me.  But if they ever put on a race in Brooklyn, I will totally volunteer to be a stumbling (read: not running) zombie. I can imagine "The Most Interesting Man in the World" participating and saying, "I don't run often, but when I do, I run from flesh eating zombie hordes."

Too bad the lady didn't make it. The best part of the commercial is that great zombie look they manage to accomplish. The highlight of the commercial is the zombie-man who takes down the runner lady, when he peers at the camera with those white-out contacts.  That piercing glare is perfect. The zombie-man looks a little like The Joker in this still shot, right.  It's not a bad look for a zombie, but maybe he needs a touch more soullessness.

Runners talk about a phenomenon called a "runner's high." Supposedly, it happens mid-run when your body releases endorphins to help your body deal with the running. I can only imagine the adrenaline rush that comes from being chased by a gang of zombies. The ending shots with the entire zombie universe converging on our hero as he sprints toward the finish is thrilling. The commercial captures the spirit of the event- the fear, the adrenaline and the triumph.

I'd be happier if this was part of a series of commercials.  I'd like to see more clips of people running from zombies.  I mean, AMC has been able to make a whole TV series out of it.  Sadly, it appears it's not in the "Run For Your Lives" budget... maybe next year. I'm sure they don't want to give away too much of the race's surprises and obstacles, but there are so many fun things you can do with this premise. More zombies please?

For any of you out there who are debating signing up for a run after reading this, you should know that each run ends with a zombie apocalypse party.  Yup, that's enough to get me on board. As a stumbling zombie, at least.

The Ratings:
Appeal: B+
Effectiveness: B+
Longevity: B-


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chipotle Is Going Back to the Start

If you were watching the Grammy's this past weekend you may have caught and been struck by a very poignant little commercial. I certainly was. It's animated, but it's no ordinary cartoon.

Before I spoil it for you, have a gander below: 

Wow. If you read the commercial's description on Chipotle's YouTube Channel website, you'll find they use the word "haunting" to describe the Coldplay song that's featured in the spot.  This makes me angry--jealous little girl angry. Because "haunting" is exactly the word I wanted to use to describe this commercial and Willie Nelson's vulnerable, tender rendition of "The Scientist." I'm mad that they stole my word (true, they stole it before I even thought to use it, but still!).  Now my description of the commercial doesn't sound as original.

That's okay.  I'm over it.  I've come up with some other words to help me describe what I love about this commercial. It's eerie. It's spellbinding. It's captivating.  See? Great words. And they are all perfectly accurate.

Willie Nelson's fragile voice warbles and tumbles over the words.  How thrilling it must be for Coldplay (a great rock group in their own right, putting out some of the best rock music available today) to have their song covered by such a legend. The gripping music makes this ad.

That cover could make any commercial great.  But this commercial is so much more than the song. The animation, or more appropriately claymation, has a fresh and clean look.  Overall, the color scheme is light and pale. The design is uncomplicated--boiling each character or item down to its most basic lines.

It reminds me of Wallace and Gromit, but is so much smoother and more basic. All of this helps make the ad visually appealing.

But, as they would say in any good infomercial- that's not all! Chipotle calls this a "short film." Even as a commercial connoisseur, I'm not sure I'm comfortable calling this a "short film,' but it definitely isn't your average commercial.  This "short film" has a well developed plot with a crystal clear message that is delivered without pretense and without judging. Considering the subject matter, you would expect this message to be jarring, but it comes out in an almost comforting manner. I think you could watch this ad with children in the room without everyone being totally disturbed and depressed.  The goal isn't to make you feel queasy, guilty, or vegetarian.  Instead, it quietly and softly poses a question.  Maybe it's more like a series of questions:
Is this what we wanted?
Is this progress?
Is it worth it?
Isn't there a better way?
Are we prepared to face the consequences of our choices? 

I think that after you watch the commercial a couple times, or as you mull it over as time goes by, these questions change from vague thoughts to more specific points regarding the tough consequences depicted:
Is the environmental damage worth the immediate cost-saving benefits?
Shouldn't we be treating our farmyard friends with the respect and dignity they deserve?
Are hormone-filled, freak-monster, circle pigs good for anyone?

In the end, Chipotle hopes you wrestle with these questions just like Mr. Farmer does, and they hope this conflict of conscience is contagious.  Chipotle wants you to resolve these questions the same way Mr. Farmer does--that yes, there is a better way.  It is worth the trouble and expense to develop that better way.  And that hormone-filled, freak-monster, circle pigs are no good for them or for us.

We live in exciting and difficult times. It seems food prices, along with everything else, just keep going up as wages hold steady if you're lucky or good jobs become more scarce altogether if you're not. Americans are making sacrifices to make ends meet. But maybe this isn't an area where we should be cutting corners to save a buck. Maybe we should be more concerned about what we're putting into our bodies.  Maybe these noble animals who give their lives for our nutrition deserve a life with dignity.

I'm no vegetarian. I am an equal opportunity meat lover. I would like to think that the piggies and duckies and cows who turn into my dinner live happy little lives before they end up on my plate.  I know that in reality that's rarely true. This commercial makes me want to defend them, protect them, and stand up for them. This commercial makes me want to be a better person for them.

Mr. Farmer's moment of truth, when he ponders the hormones, the pollution, and the little piggies trapped behind bars, could be a horrific Silence of the Lambs like moment.  But instead, it's empowering.  These are OUR choices.  We can change this reality.  We can make a better world. And we can do it with the power of "the almighty dollar." Let the money do the talking and make smarter consumer decisions.

This looks like the beginning of something, not the end. McDonald's just announced it will be eliminating gestation stalls for pregnant sows. It is one small step down the road of examining our collective consciences and revisiting some disturbing decisions we've made as a society.

Thankfully, the commercial ends on an uplifting, positive note.  So that's how I'd like to end this post. One of my favorite characters in the spot is the flock of chickens.

Aren't they adorable. I love chickens. Especially for eating.  Let's try to be good to them?

The Ratings:
Appeal: B
Effectiveness: A
Longevity: A-


Monday, February 13, 2012

The United States Postal Service Wants You Back

This post is one part Public Service Announcement and one part rant. Today's theme from your host at And Now a Word From Our Sponsors is this: Paper is not an infallible answer to the Information Age problem of identity theft. 

There, I've said it. It had to be said because someone out there is spreading some false information. And that someone is the United States Postal Service.  In an attempt to get Americans to come back to the glory days of paper stamps and physical letters, USPS's latest commercial invokes some pretty bizarre claims. You can view the commercial here: (sorry, this is the only version I could find and it won't allow me to embed the video into my post!)

Although literally true, this ad is dangerously inaccurate.  The voice over is playing with the idea that paper is safe, and computers are not.  It's just not that simple.  The ad is also trying to convince businesses that paper is better for business, and safer for customers.  It's as if USPS has forgotten that the security risks of hard copy are part of what got us to this point in the first place. Do they want us to believe that crime never happened back when we wrote everything down on paper?  If that were the case, why do we bother with all this highfalutin' technology in the first place? Frankly, it seems like USPS thinks the bad guys have become so sophisticated that they've forgotten how to steal paper checks, bank statements, credit applications, and vital information (like Social Security numbers, birthdays, and pin numbers) right from that safe piece of paper tucked into your mailbox by your friendly neighborhood post carrier. I can assure you that they haven't. But you don't have to rely on my word for it- just turn to any of the millions who suffer the pains of identity theft day in and day out. It's enough to keep you awake at night.

Don't get me wrong--I like mail.  I probably use the postal service more than your average person.  I mail a paper check to my landlord to pay rent each month.  Tucking that check into the little envelope reminds me of bringing my milk money to school back in kindergarten. I also send Christmas cards every year.  I love the charming tradition of hand writing a little note to each of my friends and family to wish them well in the New Year. I love getting cards in return. It's exciting checking the mailbox in December. We always display the cards we receive no the back of our front door. I try to mail post cards whenever I travel and I have a couple friends and family members who send some our way, too. As I've mentioned before, I have family abroad ('ello England!) and my husband and I are constantly sending and receiving packages back and forth with them.

But then again, as much as I am a steady patron of the mail, the mail isn't always good to me in return.  For instance, our Christmas parcel from England this year apparently made it across the Atlantic (well done, Royal Mail), only to be held up, lost, and ultimately returned back to sender a couple days ago.  We're in February.  Thanks, USPS. 

So, lesson #1: Don't be inept.  I think that's a valid mantra for any business.  If you've had to wait in line at a post office branch in the past year I'm sure you've witnessed no end of incompetence and frustration with USPS. They could probably stand to use the money spent on this advertisement on direct back towards accomplishing their basic goals. Keep in mind, this is the same business that has recently proposed eliminating Saturday delivery, eliminating next day delivery, and this year has already raised delivery rates. Fantastic.

Lesson #2: This ad doesn't work. They need Americans to get excited about sending a letter.  They won't succeed by trying to scare us back into using the mail.  It's like an abusive relationship. Instead, USPS needs to rally the troops around the mail.  Then need the people to rise up and "rage against the dying of the light," before this exquisite tradition becomes extinct. 

The better commercial would be a romanticized depiction of people sending and receiving letters. It should start off back in ye olde days and bring us to present day.  It should go through the intervening generations like the second Budweiser Prohibition Super Bowl spot below.

The USPS needs to show people opening letters and finding secret little trinkets inside, the type of physical item that you can't transmit via email (even if you can order it on and have it delivered).  A great commercial for the mail would show people reacting emotionally to the physical connection that mail provides. We should see a child jumping for joy at seeing his name on the letter from grandma.  We should see an older couple sorting through their drawers where they've hidden little mementos through the years to find, "I've kept every letter you ever sent me!"

That's what USPS needs.  Not some ad that tries to lull us back into using paper by scaring us with today's terror of computer viruses and hackers.  Not some ad that tries to fool us into thinking we're back in "1985"... that reminds me of that song by Bowling For Soup.

Damnit, USPS, mail rocks. Why you gotta go and do me like that and create such a weird, manipulative commercial?  I hate it when we fight. We can talk about making up when you deliver my Christmas parcel. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Commercial Honorable Mention: Meet Ms. Brown, The Newest M&M

The Big Game is over. The Giants have won. Those of us in the field of television commercials analysis have completed our live blogs and top ten lists. But I'm certainly not infallible, and in the frenzy of Jerry Seinfeld's personal system of Manhattan zip lines and Mr. Quiggly's sneakers, it is possible that I might have overlooked a smart, fun little Super Bowl spot that many of you instantly loved.  So I'm dedicating this post to Jorge and Kelly, for showing me the error of my ways.

It begins with a voice that is rich and familiar. And then you see her- the newest M&M, Ms. Brown. She's got eyebrows exuding personality, stylish high heeled shoes, and glasses that perfectly frame her face.

That's one lovely lady.

But M&M's want you to know that she's more than just a sweet, curvy candy.  This is an M&M with brains, class, and sophistication.  The commercial begins with Ms. Brown relating an anecdote to her equally fabulous set of girlfriends.  We enter mid-anecdote, so we only hear that she's had a conversation in which she's setting the Prime Minister straight.  How cosmopolitan! It's only the giggling fool across the room that interrupts the ladies and sets us up for the comedic punch of the ad.  She's brown, so she must be a naked M&M!

In case you missed it:

I can't say I was impressed by the naked M&M plot, but it's cute. More importantly, M&M has given us a positive female presence in the middle of the Super Bowl.  So, thanks for that.  If it's between Ms. Brown and the ladies, I'm happy to give this commercial top marks!

What really gives Ms. Brown her charm is that voice. It's a lovely, velvety-rich voice that sounds familiar. Yes, that's Vanessa Williams--singer, actor, and all around star. Super Bowl XVLI was packed with cameo-filled commercials, and this M&M's spot didn't deviate from that trend. Ms. Williams is the perfect voice for Ms. Brown, and I'm happy she took on the project.

There are two elements that make this commercial work well.  First, the strong female character.  Second, the idiotic male characters.  In addition to the giggling guy across the bar, Red M&M enters with perfect comedic timing to the line, "Only a fool would think I'd actually show up naked."

Still, I don't think any of these elements make this a memorable Super Bowl commercial.  There's one final piece to the puzzle that has made many of you out there in TVland dub "Just My Shell" one of your favorites from 2012: LMFAO.

Don't get me wrong, I dig the digi-beats of LMFAO.  Especially back when they were set to a pair of dancing hamsters in shiny MC Hammer pants: 


Yes, I downloaded "Party Rock Anthem" after being subjected to it repeatedly via this ad. I predict that one day we will look back on LMFAO as a horrible cancer on the music of the 2010's (pronounced twenty-tens or twenty-teens). LMFAO are ubiquitous. Look! There they are dancing with Madonna! You can't avoid them. You can't escape them. You can't get away. And it's that ridiculous beat and coupled with that last image of Red dancing to "wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle" that delivers in this ad.

So that's why you all liked it so much.  I don't disagree, but it's still not in my Top Ten. 

The Ratings
Appeal: B+
Effectiveness: B+
Longevity: B+


For more Super Bowl related news, check out these posts:
Super Bowl XLVI- The Top Ten Best Commercials of 2012
Super Bowl XLVI- The Commercials Live Blog 
Budweiser- King of Super Bowl Commercials
Volkswagen's Fat Dog New Beetle Star Wars Cantina
Volkswagen's Star Wars Dog Choir
Matthew Broderick's Day Off
Matthew Broderick is Back as Ferris Bueller in Honda's New Super Bowl Commercial- Teaser
Pet Peeve: Shazam

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI: The Top Ten Best Commercials of 2012

After a long night of live blogging the Super Bowl, it's time for a post to cut to the chase and bring you the best of the best.  Check out the live blog for the rationale behind my picks.

Also, I've decided to award honorable mention status to M&M's "Just My Shell" for the not so naked Ms. Brown. Check out the full post on Ms. Brown here. She only just missed my top ten list!

Finally, here are my picks for the top ten commercials of the 2012 Super Bowl. Go Big Blue!

10. The Voice- "Battle"

9. Samsung- "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"

8. Metlife- "Everyone"

7. Downy- "Mean Joe Green"

6. Geico- "Popular Girl Diet"

5. Pepsi- "King Elton John"

4. Skechers- "Mr. Quiggly"

3. Acura- "Seinfeld Wants to be #1"

2. Time Warner Cable- "Friend Request Denied"

1. Honda- "Matthew Broderick's Day Off"- Click here to read my analysis of this ad and all the Easter Eggs hidden inside

For more Super Bowl related news, check out these posts:
Super Bowl XLVI- Honorable Mention For M&M's Ms. Brown
Super Bowl XLVI- The Commercials Live Blog 
Budweiser- King of Super Bowl Commercials
Volkswagen's Fat Dog New Beetle Star Wars Cantina
Volkswagen's Star Wars Dog Choir
Matthew Broderick's Day Off
Matthew Broderick is Back as Ferris Bueller in Honda's New Super Bowl Commercial- Teaser
Pet Peeve: Shazam

Super Bowl XLVI: The Commercials Live Blog

But how about the MVA? That's "Most Valuable Advertisement."
Any of our first or second half winners could take the crown. Check out my Super XLVI Top Ten Commercials List here.

For me, it's a tie between Honda's "Matthew Broderick's Day Off" and Time Warner Cable's "Friend Request Denied."  Not a bad year for Super Bowl commercials!
Second Half Winners:

Acura- "Seinfeld #1"

Samsung- "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"

Honda- "Matthew Broderick's Day Off"

Metlife- "Everyone"

Time Warner Cable- "Friend Request Denied"


9:56pm: THE END- THE GIANTS WIN, 21-17 
NBC Sports Network- "Next Generation." Very sweet. 8/10
Acura- "Seinfeld #1"- Stands up on second viewing! 9.5/10
Kauffman- "Next Entrepreneur." 6/10
Dunkin Donuts- "Bakery Sandwiches." Boring. 3/10 

9:39pm: 4th Quarter, 15-17 Two Minute Warning
Cadillac- "The Green Hell." Another car commercial. Not the most boring of the night, not the most exciting. But I like the line, "Tell them to go to Green Hell." 6.5/10
Swamp People- "This Is Your Boss." I do not want this life. Nor do I want to watch it. 3.5/10 "Internet Cloud." Another group of scantily clad ladies. Now with the absolute slightest bit more plot. 2.5/10
NBC- "Awake." WHAT THE HELL? Okay, I'm interested. 6.5/10

9:25pm: 4th Quarter, 15-17
Samsung- "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." Wow, that was a crazy, annoying song back in the day. If you're wondering, it's by "The Darkness." Put away your Shazam app, folks. Thanks Samsung, for bringing this gem back. All in all, Not a horrible ad for a phone that's major claim to fame is that it is not an iPhone. 8.5/10
NBC- "The Voice." How many seconds does it take to know he's the voice? I kinda love that guy, too. Last season the winner was the guy in all the TV commercials. This bodes well for the guy who makes it into their Super Bowl ad.  Spoiler much? 7/10

9:20pm: 4th Quarter, 15-17
Kia- "Mr. Sandman." Definitely a more interesting car commercial.  This is what you expect from a Super Bowl commercial.  It's got to have something more than the car driving in a loop. 7.5/10 "Monkey Co-workers." Love the music from the Odd Couple. Great line: "Somebody order 46 banana daiquiris?" 8/10
NBC- "Laughs for Almost Everyone."  I do tend to love NBC's lineup, but this ad is nothing special. 4/10

9:12pm: 4th Quarter, 15-17
Hyundai- "CPR." Funny. Not hilarious, but funny. Well done. 7.5/10
Bud Light- "Here We Go." Another cute dog commercial. Great use of their tag line. This is one of those dogs that's so ugly it's cute. 7.5/10

9:06pm: 4th Quarter, 15-17
Honda- "Matthew Broderick's Day Off." Brilliant.  See my post on this one here. 10/10
Act of Valor- "Trailer." 6/10
Metlife- "Everyone." The best kind of cameos- your favorite animated friends.  He-Man, Speedy Gonzalez,  Scooby Doo, Charlie Brown & The Peanuts gang, The Jetsons, Mr. Magoo, Grape Ape, Voltron and many more make this a great little spot. 9/10
NBC- "Smash."  Stop.  Please. 2/10

9:00pm: End 3rd Quarter, 15-17
NFL- "Forever Football Evolution." Really well shot. Good use of your time, NFL. 8/10
Toyota- "Manning." Topical. Nothing special. 5/10
Time Warner Cable- "Friend Request Denied." Ricky Gervais is fantastic! Another one of my all time favorite actors. Best line of the night- "Friend request denied. What are you going to do about it? Grenade?" 10/10
Ford- "Jeter's Back for a Third Go." Seriously, I'm disappointed.  Would have expected him to actually speak by now. Especially if you're going to show it 3 times. Damn you, Ford. 3/10

8:48pm: 3rd Quarter, 12-17
Budweiser- "Prohibition is Over." Bud takes us on a tour through the ages.  They have very successfully captured the feel of these eras. Bud wants you to know that "great times are waiting" and that they are timeless. It works. 7.5/10
Bridgestone- "Tire Tech 2." Points for the sleeping baby test and cameos by Tim Duncan and Steve Nash. 7.5/10

8:44pm: 3rd Quarter, 12-17 
Acura - "Seinfeld Wants to be #1." Who wouldn't go for a good Soup Nazi cameo? Seinfeld's found a new last living munchkin. And I will hunt down his personal network of Manhattan zip lines.  I love that Leno appears as his present day Newman. 9.5/10 
GE- "Putting People to Work." GE Works. 5/10
8:38pm: 3rd Quarter, 12-17
Fiat- "Abarth Scorpion." The lady with the scorpion tattoo is really a car! She really fooled that guy. 7/10
Pepsi Max- "Coke Zero Guy Wins." I can't decide whether it's positive or negative points for the Regis cameo. Plus, I think they've over done this line of advertisement. I don't believe you, Pepsi. Coke is better, and that guy wouldn't cheat! 4/10
Toyota- "Camry Reinvented." That baby was a time machine! DMV is a ice cream counter! Rain makes you skinny! Thank you, Toyota. 8/10
Coca Cola- "Bears out of Coke." Sad bear. Sad me. 4/10
Oikos- "The Stamos." The most famous Greek man of 1989 sells you yogurt.  Hello Uncle Jessie, AKA John Stamos. 7/10
Century 21- "Negotiating with The Donald." 6/10

8:28pm: 3rd Quarter, 9-17 Touchdown Pats
NBC- "Smash." Stop advertising this show at me. I'm already sick of it. 3/10
BMW- "Heated Steering Wheel." Funny little spot. 7.5/10
Chase- "Broken Windows Kicker." Cute kid. What a kick! 7/10
Ford- "More Derek Jeter." Sorry, gotta give points to the home team. Win, DJ, win! But it is a rehashing of every other Jeter Ford commercial. Could we get some new footage? Maybe a joke? 6.5/10

8:17pm: Half Time, Just Before Kick Off
Chrysler- "America at Half Time." Clint Eastwood is so tough. Is he running for president? Had me convinced. 7/10
NFL- "Edge of Glory." I'm only reviewing this because of the Lady Gaga song. Great use of a fantastic song. 7/10

8:14pm Half Time, Post-Show
The Voice- "Battle." Can we watch Adam Levine beat up X-tina? Please? Ceelo is dressed in traditional Kill Bill fashion. Betty White hits this one out of the park. 8.5/10

First Half Winners: 
Geico- "Popular Girl Diet"

Pepsi- "King Elton John"

Skechers- "Mr. Quiggly"

Downy- "Mean Joe Green & Amy Sedaris"

7:59pm: Half Time, Pre-show
Camry- "Stories." Stop telling me to Shazam it! These stories aren't even that compelling. 5/10
Hulu Plus- "Will Arnet is Back." An eviler plot to take over the world. I like it. 7.5/10
Bud Lite- "LMFAO." Bridgestone half time show, Shazam, Bud Lite. Too many advertisers working together! 6/10

7:50pm: Half Time, 9-10 (I was one point away from winning a Super Bowl pool for Half Time)
NFL-"Live Like a Millionaire." Flashy. 6/10
Ford- "Derek Jeter Drives Through NY" I'm a fan, so I like it. Sorry, Boston fans.  There's just no equivalent. And we were bound to see some Yankee action in this Super Bowl. 7/10
Prudential- "Linda's Story." These have been on TV already. This isn't even the best one. 5/10
Royal Caribbean- "The Sea's Calling." Seen it on TV already. 6/10
Honda- "Visit 50 States." Did you catch your state on the girl's T-shirt? I did. 5/10 

7:42pm: 2nd Quarter, 9-3
Doritos- "I'm Up Here." Granny and baby team up against annoying older brother. Near and dear to my heart. 7/10
E-Trade- "Speed Dating." Icky ending. 5/10
G.I. Joe- "Trailer." I knew Joe would make it in there somewhere.  When did they recruit Bruce Willis? All points go to Bruce. 5/10

7:35pm: 2nd Quarter, 9-3 2 Minute Warning
Avengers- "Trailer." OMFG I wanna go see. 8/10  
Teleflora- "Valentines Day." This seems like an ad for prostitution. I don't like it. 4/10
Skechers- "Mr. Quiggly." This dog is so much better than the Volkswagen dog! His ridiculous name is the right amount of silly to make me love him. And the Moonwalk to "Wild Thing" makes it. 8.5/10"Confidence." Did you see the Shazam logo? They just slipped it in there for a mili-second. Damn.  That ad was just creepy and weird. The dude's second head of confidence was bizarre and needed an explanation. But the little ditty was kinda catchy. 5.5/10

7:30pm: 2nd Quarter, 9-3
Chevy- "Sonic Stunts." Impressive. 7/10
Star Wars- "Episode I in 3D." First, I'm not Gaga over 3-D movies. Second, how many times do they have to retouch these movies? Seriously, leave a good thing alone. 6/10

7:19pm: 2nd Quarter, 9-3
H&M- "Misunderstood." That was David Bekham. And a good classic song. That's all. 6/10
Coke- "Ice Football." Wow, that's one clumsy bear. Cute, but still not loving this animation style. Also, it's the kind of implausible that turns me off. 6/10

7:13pm: 2nd Quarter, 9-3
The Lorax- "Trailer." I wanna see it! 7/10
Volkswagen- "Fat Dog Star Wars Cantina." I have lots of opinions on this. Check out the review here.  As a Super Bowl ad, let's go with 6.5/10.  
America's Got Talent- "Moves Like Jagger." Yes, I want to watch Howard Stern blast people with a fire hose. 6/10.

7:06pm: 2nd Quarter, 9-3
Budweiser- "Prohibition." I saw Clydesdale hooves and my heart jumped. I love the stylized look of this ad. It doesn't have the big emotional pull or comedy of some of the other Clydesdale Bud ads, but I appreciate it. 7.5/10
Doritos- "Missing Cat." Bribed by the dog. Wow. I'm a cat person. 6/10
Chevy- "Happy Graduation." The comedy of misunderstanding. Was the real present a mini-fridge? 6/10

7:01pm: End 1st Quarter, 9-0
Bridgestone- "Tire Technology." Troy Aikman and Deion Sanders.  Cameos are great in Super Bowl ads. 7/10
Go Daddy- "Body Paint." I can't stand these commercials. Maybe it's because I'm a woman and find them inherently degrading. Sorry boys. 2/10
Lexus- "GS." Boring. 3/10
Battleship- "Trailer." Things blow up. It's not Transformers. Really. It's not G.I. Joe.  It's a board game come to life. What? 4/10 for the pretty explosions.

6:55pm: 1st Quarter, Still 9-0
Coca Cola- "Bear Crossing." That's one sweet polar bear.  The animation looks a little sub-par for Coke. 7/10
Chevy- "Silverado Apocalypse." Dave didn't make it. Twinkies survive. Raining frogs. I like it. 7/10

6:52pm: 1st Quarter 9-0 TOUCHDOWN GIANTS! 
Bud Lite- "Platinum Round 2." Music's not as good this time. 5/10
M&Ms- "Naked Ms. M&M." Wiggle wiggle wiggle! Cute. 7/10
Best Buy- "We Created!" Stop bragging. 5/10
NBC- "Celebrity Apprentice." George Takei gets all the points for this spot. 5/10

6:41pm: 1st Quarter 2-0
Pepsi- "King Elton John." Flavor Flav is in the dungeon?! Hell yeah. And long live the king! 9/10  
Hyundai- "Veloster." Fast like a cat. Ok. 6/10
NBC- "Smash." I preemptively hate this show. 4/10 

6:38pm: 1st Quarter 0-0
Bud Lite- "Platinum." Damn, that Kanye song is haunting. 7/10
Audi- "LED Daylight Headlights." Vampires explode at the sight of headlights.  Are vampires really still so hot right now? I didn't think so. Cute ad, but not my favorite. 6/10

6:27: Post Coin Toss
Hyundai- "Rocky Music." Love it. The power of the triumph of the human spirit.  Makes me love my fellow man and made me smile.Wish they would appear next time I feel like I can't. 8/10 

6:20pm- Ok, I Give Up on Kick-Off... Sometime Before Game Time.
The Dictator- "Trailer" Eh. Didn't really show us enough to make an opinion, but I do love some Sasha Baron Cohen. 6/10
Verizon- "Droid Razor." Ooo colors. Not enough. 4/10
Old Navy- "Corporado." Surprising funny.  Impressive, Old Navy. I've learned to expect nothing from you. Or at least, nothing good. You got me there.  7.5/10
McDonalds "McDonald House." Sick kids = sadness. 5/10
Hyundai- "Genesis." A car goes around a track. Lame. 3/10
NBC- "London Olympics." I love that Coldplay song.  Go Team USA! 7/10 

6:12pm- Really Just Before Kick-Off
Hulu Plus- "Will Arnet." He's funny and he said McGrubber. 7/10
Geico- "Popular Girl Diet." HILARIOUS. 8.5/10
Gillette Fusion- "Stylish Guys." I think I know those guys. Is that the guy from Outkast? And an actor dude.  I couldn't catch them fast enough.  Negative points for not capitalizing on your celebrities. 6/10
Pizza Hut "The Rap." It was raptacular.  5/10
Safe House "Trailer"- I will not be watching this movie after viewing this trailer. 4/10.

6:05pm- Just Before Kick-Off
Honking Hyundai Elantra- "One Car Parade." Sweet little commercial. Not a stand out. 5/10
GE Wisconin- "Cancer Survivors." Emotional? Not sure what I just watched or why. 4/10
Kraft Mac & Cheese- "Picky Eater." Seen it. Don't love the kid. 4/10
NFL- "Wind Beneath my Wings." Allen screaming "NAILED IT!" at the end makes this commercial.  Very sweet thank you for the fans.  I'm all for anything that embarrasses professional football players. 7/10.   

5:40pm- Mean Joe Green and Amy Sedaris for Downy
Wow, I wasn't planning to start until kick-off, but how could I resist posting this play on a classic Super Bowl commercial. Check out one of my favorite comedic ladies, Amy Sedaris, playing the kid in an homage to a classic Coke commerical.

Super Bowl Score: 8.5/10
Why it's good: It's a cute and funny play on a classic commercial.  Mean Joe looks just as puzzled by someone trying to pass him some laundry detergent as the rest of us.  It works because it's Amy Sedaris, and she's a notably strange lady. She's also adorable and one of my all-time favorites.  Yes, I was a fan of "Strangers With Candy." And I'm old enough to appreciate the reference. In short, I like it. Check out the original here:

5:30pm- The Rules
Since this is the Oscars, nay, the Olympics of the television commercial world, the traditional WFOS Ratings system goes right out the window.  That's mainly because these spots are custom designed for maximum impact right here, right now--and they're not necessarily made to stand up on repeated viewings.  That means the score for longevity won't accurately capture whether the ad is a good Super Bowl ad. So, for tonight only, I'll be utilizing a special 1-10 system designed to address the only question that matters: Is it a good Super Bowl ad? Each commercial will get a score out of 10, followed by my attempt to answer for you, "Why?" or "Why not?"

5:15pm- Pregame 
Don't touch that dial, TVland. You're tuned in to The Big Game with a little color commentary from your host at "And Now a Word From Our Sponsors." Stay here for the only chatter that matters: what is the deal with these multimillion dollar Super Bowl commercials? Together, we'll take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the end, only one will can prevail in the championship game. By the time they crown the winner's MVP, I'll be announcing the Super Bowl Spot MVA- Most Valuable Advertisement. So stay tuned!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Budweiser- King of Super Bowl Commercials

Tomorrow I will be live blogging the Super Bowl for your reading pleasure. At the very least I'll try to capture my knee jerk reactions to each ad as they air and in the process create a comprehensive listing to pour over for the future. These are my hopes for tomorrow, but we'll see how it turns out in actuality.

In the meantime, to help you all gear up properly, I have compiled a listing of Super Bowl commercials through time.  Ah, but not just any Super Bowl commercials- only the commercials from one specific advertiser whose name has become synonymous for me with the Super Bowl.  Can you guess? I've already spoiled it by naming them in the title of this post.  For me, there has been one overlord of Super Bowl commercial success.  No, not the E-Trade baby.  No, not Coca Cola and their elaborate animated ads. Not even the sultry temptresses of GoDaddy.Com.

Looking back through my memories of great Super Bowl commercials, I keep returning to Bud.  The good folks at Budweiser have taken their advertising duties very seriously over the years to keep them on top with commercials that are at times hilarious, sentimental, touching, and shocking (yes, literally shocking- see below). These are the ads we were all talking about the day after the Super Bowl- a true sign of commercial success.  How many do you remember?

To begin, we go way back to a commercial that took pop culture by storm.  Years later, even Michael Scott of The Office has uttered these immortal words, "Wassup."

Moving on, we reach another pop culture darling with "The Frogs" of Bud. Weis. Er.

But that wasn't the end of the story of the frogs.  Enter a jealous lizard.  If you have a couple minutes, watch this compilation of commercials with Lenny the Lizard as he tries to scheme his way into advertising history.

Budweiser also has a sweet side to their adverts.  The iconic Clydesdale horses are a true fan favorite. These beautiful horses have pranced their way across our screens in a long series of commercials.  They carry themselves with a dignity and respect that Budweiser has sought to claim for their brand. It's a great partnership that adds some history and tradition to some very amusing modern day commercials.

Let's start with "Fetch."

Next, here's "Hank," the Rocky Balboa of Clydesdales.

The cutest and funniest of the bunch is definitely "The Streaker."

Finally, the Clydesdales pay tribute to the heroes of September 11, 2001. A fitting way to end this post and a beautiful homage to 9-11. 

Thanks Budweiser, for making the Super Bowl an event for commercial lovers, pop culture followers, and football fans alike. I will certainly be looking out for this years installment.

For more Super Bowl related news, check out these posts:
Super Bowl XLVI- Honorable Mention For M&M's Ms. Brown 
Super Bowl XLVI: The Top Ten Best Commercials of 2012
Super Bowl XLVI: The Commercials Live Blog
Volkswagen's Fat Dog New Beetle Star Wars Cantina
Matthew Broderick's Day Off
Matthew Broderick is Back as Ferris Bueller in Honda's New Super Bowl Commercial- Teaser
Pet Peeve: Shazam

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Volkswagen's Fat Dog New Beetle Star Wars Cantina

Bulky title, right? If it seems like a disjointed mouthful of words that do not under any circumstances belong together, then I've managed to truly capture the essence of Volkswagen's full length Super Bowl spot.

You may recall that Volkswagen put out a teaser for their upcoming Super Bowl commercial, entitled "The Bark Side."  I wrote about it here. Ah, the days of anticipation and hope. One might even refer to it as "A New Hope" (har har). The teaser had everyone wondering how VW would follow up last year's adorable hit about a mini Darth Vader.  Star Wars fans everywhere prepared for another commercial that would really speak their language, be it Wookiee or Jawaese.  Instead, they will be subjected to the following bloated mess.  Consider yourselves warned.

Two words come to mind.  "Wow" and "damn." Where should I begin?
First, how about the digitized dog in a fat suit? I don't even know what to say about that.  This is a commercial due to air over one of the most glutenous weekends on the American social calendar.  Come on, Germans! Know your audience! Are you trying to make me feel guilty and miserable about the 17th buffalo chicken wing I'm about to put in my mouth?  Or the vat of guacamole that I'm about to devour? Most of the fun of a Super Bowl party is the food!

So great, you've depressed your audience by laughing at their love handles.  Good work there.  But here's a thought, when we watched "The Bark Side," I would imagine most people expected to see a Star Wars themed commercial starring all of those dogs.  But... nope. We got Episode I: The Fat Strikes Back followed promptly and inexplicably by Episode II: Cantina Wars.

The dog in this commercial reminds me more of Spaceballs than Star Wars.  Remember that 1987 Mel Brooks classic? This dog is a dead ringer for Barf--the Chewbacca-esque sidekick played by the late, great John Candy.  See for yourselves:


There was only one moment on "the dog side" of this commercial that made me smile.  That's when fatty pup waddled onto his exercise ball.  The whole thing is just beyond absurd.

But just when you think you've been watching one mediocre car commercial, you realize that you're stuck in the middle of two mediocre car commercials! You are instantly whisked through the matrix via flat screen TV to a galaxy far, far away into a cantina that is only vaguely reminsicent of the one on Mos Eisley.  Frankly, the cantina in my Lego Star Wars game is a more convincing depiction.  And yes, I own and have played Lego Star Wars-- thanks again to that older brother of mine. At least they got the music right.  I love that little ditty.

What a stroke of advertising genius! The folks at VW found the perfect tie-in.  You can make any commercial a Star Wars commercial and attract the devoted legions of fans if you play your crappy commercial on the legendary flat screen TVs of the Mos Eisley cantina.  What? What did you say Star Wars geeks?  I can barely hear you over the shrill screams of your peers. The cantina wasn't chock full of flat screen TVs?  The stories of Star Wars occurred "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" where people wouldn't care about the new, new Beetle? Aw shucks.

But that's not the only problem with this ad. That pug-nosed alien is the only person in any galaxy who would argue that this dog spot is better than the mini Darth Vader commercial from last year.  That commercial was sweet and surprising, had a fantastic connection to the product, and was a fine specimen of physical acting by whoever it was in that Vader costume. It was a creative and memorable bit of advertising that should have made the folks at VW very proud. This, in short, is not. It's not any of those things. When our pug-nosed alien friend starts to choke, I'm rooting for Vader. Any idiot who thinks this fat dog is better than the Vader kid deserves a good throttling.

And not to completely nitpick, but why on earth or any other planet would Darth Vader himself be marching through the cantina? Ugh. 

As I said at the start, this is a completely disjointed mess.  It doesn't make any sense.  The dog teaser was far better even though it had no connection to the car.  Flag on the play. Offense. Technical foul. You have access to the entire Star Wars play book and this is what you do with it?  5 yard penalty.  Better luck next year.

The Ratings:
Appeal: C+
Effectiveness: C-
Longevity: C


For more Super Bowl related news, check out these posts:
Super Bowl XLVI- Honorable Mention For M&M's Ms. Brown 
Super Bowl XLVI: The Top Ten Best Commercials of 2012
Super Bowl XLVI: The Commercials Live Blog
Budweiser- King of Super Bowl Commercials
Matthew Broderick's Day Off
Matthew Broderick is Back as Ferris Bueller in Honda's New Super Bowl Commercial- Teaser
Pet Peeve: Shazam

Monday, January 30, 2012

Matthew Broderick's Day Off: Honda's New Super Bowl Ad

Tonight was like Christmas in January.  I must have been good these past few weeks because Super Bowl Santa has brought exactly what I always wanted, 6 days early! Honda has posted its Ferris Bueller themed Super Bowl commercial on YouTube.  To build the excitement better than any drum roll, read my preview and watch the teaser here.

Without further ado, here it is:

Knee-jerk first reaction: not exactly what I expected. I thought it would be a two minute and thirty second mini-movie of Ferris Bueller 2. But it isn't.  And I'm okay with that.

Instead we get Matthew Broderick playing Matthew Broderick, which works because the entire world thinks Matthew Broderick is really Ferris Bueller and always has been. Effective.

We also get a two minute and thirty second mini-movie chock full of Ferris Bueller references.  "Bueller, Bueller" reference?  Check. Cough that reminds us of Bueller's electric keyboard of illness noises? Check. Nearly getting caught while stopped in traffic? Check. Thoughtful pondering at work of art while camera gets closer and closer? Check.  And yes, I'm considering that walrus to be a work of art. Major sporting event? Singing in a street parade?  Check. Check. The valet jumping the CR-V is perfectly executed, and Broderick talking to the viewers after the commercial is officially over were both right in tune with the movie.  It's a fun spot that fans of the film will love, and will make everyone else will at least smile.  Honestly, who doesn't love Matthew Broderick?

Even better for Honda, it works as a commercial.  The CR-V is integrated nicely into the plot of the ad, without being too obnoxious AND without fading into the background.  Damn, that's a nice shiny new car as it drives Broderick between his adventures. I mentioned in the last post that the goal is to get the Ferris Bueller cool to rub off on the car, and I think they did a pretty good job at it.

There are three tiny, little details that I absolutely love from this ad.

1. What's the name of the lady that Matthew is speaking to through the car phone?  Grace. Just like Mr. Rooney's secretary. Who can forget him screaming, "GRACE!" while he's on the phone with Ferris pretending to be Sloane's father. For half a second I thought the lady on the car phone was supposed to be SJP (ahem, that's Sarah Jessica Parker, otherwise known as Mrs. Broderick).  But I was not disappointed to see the name Grace appear on the dashboard.

2. Broderick replicates Ferris' goofy little grin after he tricks Grace with that disgusting cough.  What a charming little schemer!

3. I bet you didn't catch this, but I was looking for it.  Check out the license plate:

SOCHOIC! It's the one thing that I needed to see in this spot.  That car is SO CHOICE! I don't know why that phrase fell out of style, but I totally want to bring it back.  I'm thrilled to see they found a way to fit it in. Seriously, thrilled.

Let me interject a small note here about that walrus.  At first, I thought it was just a random image for Matthew Broderick to stare at to replicate the scene with Cameron in the art museum.  But upon further reflection, I realize there's more to it.  You may recall Ferris Bueller quoting John Lennon in the movie, and resolving that he too could be the walrus, but he would still have to bum rides.  I'd like to think Matthew Broderick, all grown up, is staring into that walrus and thinking to himself "I am the walrus." It's a beautiful thing.  

Finally, I must report that I just Shazam'ed this commercial for the sole purpose of learning the details of that famous "Oooh yeah, bow bow, chick, chicka chicka" music. This doesn't go against my philosophies as reported in my Shazam post--the app was meant to help you identify music. I was happy to do it at the comfort of my own computer, rather than on game day after they might have slapped a stupid "Shazam for more content" icon in the corner of my screen. That song made famous by Ferris Bueller and Twix alike is "Oh Yeah" by Yello.  And I just downloaded it. 

The Ratings
Appeal: A+
Effectiveness: A-
Longevity: A


So, we've had a first glimpse of some pretty special Super Bowl commercials.  Alright then, other advertisers, the gauntlet has been thrown.  Don't let us down with any lame ads that waste our time and your $3.5 million.

For more Super Bowl related news, check out these posts:
Super Bowl XLVI- Honorable Mention For M&M's Ms. Brown 
Super Bowl XLVI: The Top Ten Best Commercials of 2012
Super Bowl XLVI: The Commercials Live Blog
Budweiser- King of Super Bowl Commercials 
Volkswagen's Fat Dog New Beetle Star Wars Cantina
Volkswagen's Star Wars Dog Choir- Super Bowl Preview
Pet Peeve: Shazam

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Matthew Broderick Back as Ferris Bueller in Honda's New Super Bowl Commercial

UPDATE: The full ad has been released.  After you read this post on the teaser, check out my post on "Matthew Broderick's Day Off" here

Never has a 10 second teaser made me so happy. This little clip has absolutely made my day. Today's post comes with a side order of the type of news that causes an entire generation to collectively squeal with excitement. Hang on to your cheetah-print vests, 80's kids!

Ferris Bueller returns to the small screen next weekend with a "Day Off"-themed Super Bowl spot for Honda. The teaser was released last week to adoring fans of the 1986 John Hughes classic. Here goes:

I know, like life, this ad moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it. So, take that as a lesson to keep your eyes peeled during the Super Bowl and limit your bathroom breaks to game time.

Ferris Bueller was the voice of a generation. Who hasn't dreamed of taking the ultimate skip day? The movie had everything from a trip to the Cubs, to a street parade that devolves into a dance party. So, kudos to Honda for taking on the project of updating us on grown-up Mr. Bueller. The ad should be a hit, so long as it retains the original tone and feel of the movie. Considering how it has become a cult classic, studied and replayed for over 25 years, the viewing public are going to feel it if the commercial misses the mark.

The key to success is going to be keeping Bueller cool. If everyone wants to be Ferris Bueller, and Ferris Bueller is shilling your car, some of that cool is bound to rub off. I predict a home run here, or more appropriately, a touchdown. I hope Honda doesn't let me down. They have a opportunity to make a memorable Super Bowl commercial that invokes one of my all-time, favorite movies, and really strikes a hit for their brand.

The interwebs are abuzz with news that Ferris will be taking his day off in a Honda CRV. Considering the original plot line with Cameron's father's Ferrari, we could see some impressive automotive shots that would fit perfectly with updating the movie.

To be a hit, the ad has to go a little further than your average spot and really invoke the movie. There are so many pop culture gems that have lived on since we were introduced to them back in 1986. Here are some things I would want to see incorporated in a Ferris Bueller update:

1. Since this is for a car commercial, Matthew Broderick MUST look at that car and say that it is "so choice."

2. Someone has to be looking for him at work, calling out "Bueller, Bueller." Preferably Ben Stein.

3. Someone at work should walk around raising money for our deathly ill protagonist with a can marked "Save Ferris."

4. Ferris should head back to the Cubs game- great opportunity for a sports cameo. Maybe he'll be sitting next to Ernie Banks or he'll catch a home run ball hit by Alfonso Soriano.

5. Speaking of cameos, I hope we get an appearance from grown-up Jeanie Bueller (Jennifer Grey). She'll have to introduce herself, since we won't be able to recognize her with that nose job. I expect she'll be married to Charlie Sheen's drug addict character, who would really blow up this commercial with his talk of tiger blood and goddesses. Hopefully, Ferris will convince grown-up Cameron (Alan Ruck) to cut work, too, because every slacker needs a buddy. And maybe Ferris is still in touch with grown-up Sloane (Mia Sara), who can come along for their wild ride.

6. Can we please hear the phrase "Abe Froeman, Sausage King of Chicago?"

7. The main scene that has to make the cut is the car sailing through the air, like when the valets take off the in the Ferrari after Ferris drops it off. I think it will be a more effective advertisement if Bueller makes the jump himself, though.

8. Finally, dance party in the streets of Chicago. Can we get a little "Twist and Shout?"

I can't wait to see this commercial. As a Bueller mega fan, I'm thrilled to see Matthew Broderick reprise the role, even for 30 seconds. Thank you, Honda, for doing this--just don't mess it up.

I'll leave you with some wise words:
Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I'd still have to bum rides off people.
--Bueller, 1986

For more Super Bowl related news, check out these posts:
Super Bowl XLVI- Honorable Mention For M&M's Ms. Brown 
Super Bowl XLVI: The Top Ten Best Commercials of 2012
Super Bowl XLVI: The Commercials Live Blog
Budweiser- King of Super Bowl Commercials 
Volkswagen's Fat Dog New Beetle Star Wars Cantina
Volkswagen's Star Wars Dog Choir- Super Bowl Preview
Pet Peeve: Shazam

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pet Peeve: Shazam

For those of you out there gearing up for this year's Super Bowl commercials, we need to talk. I've noticed a highly disturbing trend. Thank goodness for this opportunity to expose it in all its grotesque horror. Be warned, and warn your children.

It started out innocently enough.  For those iPhone users out there, you might remember when you first booted up your sparkling, shiny new phone and discovered a magical little app called Shazam. No, not Shazam! the 70s TV show about Captain Marvel.  No, not Kazaam, the 1996 genie buddy movie starring Shaquille O'Neal. Just Shazam, the marvelous song tagging app.

I know, nowadays you've moved on to more exciting apps like Cards or you're still busy playing Angry Birds. You've forgotten all about Shazam and its instant novelty that you loved so dearly back in 2009.

Or have you? Few apps provide such a useful function. And now Shazam isn't just for Apple devotees. It's available on most phone platforms from Android to Blackberry.

For those who have missed it, Shazam is an app that helps you identify music.  You trigger the app and wait for it to "listen" to a couple seconds of that Duran Duran song when you can't remember the title, and after it matches the audio fingerprint to a database, SHAZAM! The app displays the song details (Ahh! Her name is RIO and she dances on the sand. Got it!).
I love Shazam. It's a great app. But methinks we've taken it too far.

Recently, I've noticed Shazam is being used in commercials on TV.  Why? Well, so you can Shazam them for...  I have no idea. Why on earth would anyone want to Shazam a commercial? What comes up when you Shazam a commercial? I will never know the answer.  I refuse to find out.  I will not Shazam a commercial until they promise to pay me real, cold hard cash for doing so.  You [advertisers] have paid big bucks for air time and production of these commercials.  Get out whatever it is you need to say out on the TV, while you have my captive attention.  I will not seek out more brand messaging and brain washing by Shazam'ing your commercial.  It's one thing for you to interrupt the latest episode of Top Chef.  It is wholly another thing for me to choose to subject myself to your inane characters and irritating jingles.

I first noticed the little Shazam icon in the corner of my screen during some obnoxious Old Navy commercials. My first reaction was rage. Who thought of such a horrible idea? First of all, I couldn't stand the cutesy pop tune in the commercial, so if the point was to connect me to the music, you've lost me already. But worst of all, these commercials were replayed so much that the mere sound of the music would make my skin crawl. I can't imagine the brave individual who dared to Shazam it.

Yes, Old Navy commercial stars, we are confused, annoyed, and bored by the idea of Shazam'ing this, too.  And no, Old Navy, I will NOT "Shazam Now!"

Hoping this was just a fluke, I was rudely surprised to find it a growing trend.  Over the holidays, there were Shazam ads by Marshalls and TJ Maxx.
The songs grew worse.  The Shazams became more prevalent. These are frightening times we live in.

I always figured the Shazam in the commercials had something to do with the music. Until the other day when I saw a Turbo Tax commercial using Shazam.  There wasn't any memorable music to this ad, in fact I think it was all talk.  I haven't been able to find it the offending spot on YouTube or managed to snip a picture for you, but trust me, it's out there and it's coming for you.

I think its too much. If I want more information about a product, I know how to find it.  We live in the Information Age. I disagree with creating a special, distinct layer of commercial hell by tempting viewers to activate an app on their personal cell phones to connect through the WiFi to the latest special offer.  Plus, Shazam "listens" to about 10 seconds of sound to map out the audio fingerprint.  You have to wake up your phone, open the app, and active the Shazam button in enough time to catch it. Maybe they expect you to pause your TV, rewind back the DVR and then Shazam their commercial so you can experience the hidden content.  I bet that'll be a very rewarding experience for the viewer.

Don't get me wrong.  I am someone who has looked up songs from commercials and downloaded them.  I don't think there's anything wrong with that.  Just to embarass myself, here are a couple examples of songs I found only because they were in commercials:

1. Montell Jordan- "This is How We Do It"
Yup, after I wrote my blog post about "Steve," I just had to have the song. 

2. Trio- "Da Da Da"

3. Shiny Toy Guns- "Le Disko"

4. Asteroid Galaxy- "Around the Bend"

5. This is the last example I'm willing to publicly own up to--I went old school after this Visa commercial with Renato Carosone- "Mambo Italiano."

It isn't an exhaustive list.  I hit up iTunes after watching many an iPhone ad, and many other older commercials that are nearly impossible to hunt out on the interwebs. 

Today it isn't considered artistic suicide for musicians to sell their songs for commercial use. Not only is it standard procedure, but for some it can really kick off a career. I've gotten accustomed to this and I've managed to find some arguably good (or at least fun) songs as a result.

But please, oh please, don't ask me to Shazam your tax software.

What do you think?  Do you Shazam?  Have you ever Shazam'ed a commercial? Does it inflame you to your core? Tell me about it either way.  I'm looking forward to your comments. And if you have Shazam'ed a commercial- what did it bring up? 

Regardless of your opinions, I hear that up to a third of this years Super Bowl ads will be Shazam enabled. When I open my Shazam app it tells me: "Use Shazam for the big game. Halftime with Madonna. Game Stats. Shazam-Enabled TV Ads." Keep an eye out. You know I'll be watching and shuddering.

For more Super Bowl related news, check out these posts:
Super Bowl XLVI- Honorable Mention For M&M's Ms. Brown 
Super Bowl XLVI: The Top Ten Best Commercials of 2012
Super Bowl XLVI: The Commercials Live Blog
Budweiser- King of Super Bowl Commercials
Volkswagen's Fat Dog New Beetle Star Wars Cantina
Matthew Broderick's Day Off
Matthew Broderick Returns as Ferris Bueller in Honda's New Super Bowl Commercial- Teaser
Volkswagen's Star Wars Dog Choir- Super Bowl Preview