Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stewie & Brian Want You to Eat Wheat Thins

Have you seen the latest project from Seth MacFarlane? You know, the creator and voice behind Family Guy?
I present for your viewing pleasure: Wheat Thins.

21 times. In case you didn't get a chance to count it, they repeat "Wheat Thins" 21 times in that 30 second clip. It's like a mini brain washing session. After viewing it enough times to count how many times they said Wheat Thins, I now can't get Stewie repeating "HWheat Thins" out of my head.

Those who know and love Family Guy will love this ad. I'm totally in that camp. The show was cancelled while I was in college. My friends had the DVDs of the first three seasons and we would watch it non-stop. I was thrilled when Fox picked it back up and remember tuning in for that first episode back--the triumph of good television over the network big-wigs. I loved how it opened with a jab at the network- listing off ad nauseam all the shows that had come and gone on Fox since the show was cancelled.

Anyone watching this ad could like it for one of three reasons.
1. Ooo! I loved that gag on Family Guy! Wheat Thins are so cool to use it.
2. Ooo! I love Family Guy. Stewie and Brian are the best! OR,
3. Ooo! I love Wheat Thins! What a delicious snack. Why is that baby with a football shaped head talking to a talking dog?

As you can see, you either get the specific reference, or you don't. Even if you're a fan of the show, it's such a quick joke in just a couple of episodes that you might have missed it or might not remember it.

The problem with this ad is that it's an in crowd joke. I'm not making this point to brag about the fact that I'm "in" this in crowd (hooray! finally!), but rather to point out that it's the only real flaw to the commercial. The good news for Wheat Thins is that Family Guy has been in syndication for a while (a Hwhile? yes a while) so there's a greater likelihood that people are going to get it.

But what about your mom? And by that I very respectfully mean, what about people who don't watch Family Guy, who don't know The Clam from a Giggity Goo, and who don't understand why they are mispronouncing the name of this tasty treat. The commercial is going to alienate some of the viewing audience who have no idea what is going on here.

But, I'd wager that Seth MacFarlane didn't make this commercial for your mom. I mean, I'm sure your mom is a lovely lady and all. Seriously, much respect. But doesn't it make you feel just the tiniest bit cooler when the ad is over and your mom looks at you with that puzzled look on her face and says, "I don't get it." Yeah it does. Admit it.

So, if this ad is for me and others like me out there, it works.

Two more random points before the ratings.

Fist, I am so bummed that Cool Whip didn't take advantage of this first. I can't help but wonder whether Wheat Thins approached Seth or if it was the other way around. Because damn, Cool Whip, you really missed out on a grand slam. Cool Whip: how will you live with yourselves!?!

Second, Isn't the best part of the entire thing the self-awareness of the ad? Peter, feeling left out (a nod to the in crowd nature of this ad, perhaps?) shouts from the other room "Can I be in your commercial?" Stewie and Brian's quick "NO" makes the whole thing work. Family Guy has been described as a dark humored comedy, and its fitting to end the ad this way. It makes me smile that they are mean to him. Yes, that might make me a bad person, but I'm just being honest with you.

Ok, enough toying around. Here's a clip of the original exaggerated H:

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


The spot earns high marks for effectiveness. Like I said before, it's basically brain washing you for 30 seconds. But that's also its downfall for longevity. It's not something you'll be able to stomach on too many repeat viewings without going insane. I had to go with a middling grade for appeal to take into account that some people won't have a clue what they just watched and it will make them feel sad.

If after watching this commercial you need to get the sound of Stewie Griffin saying "HWheat Thins" out of your head, may I suggest "Steve" - Jackson Hewitt . That should help shake things up.

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