Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nauseating Commercial Hall of Fame

On TV the other night there was a recurrence of this jingle:

  |             OO            |
  |   oo            oo        |
  |       oo            oo    |

I think it was in some commercial for insurance, but I'm not positive. I do recall 1st encountering it in a car commercial where it kept going on and on in the background while a bunch of cars batted a soccer ball around an urban landscape. (Yeah, real appeal to the gimlet-eyed, greasy-fingered, number-crunching automotive analysts THERE, you betcha.)

Since the tune was used by different kinds of companies for different purposes, I infer that it was not original with them but is probably an adaptation of some pop song inflicted upon an unwary world by Satan's minions from Hell.

In terms of total vacuity and the cheerfulness of the completely demented, this ditty has no equal. Its 3 notes and single syllable are utterly without intelligible content. Even disco or hip-hop would be an improvement. Yes, even the chicken dance or the macarena would be preferable. God, this thing is awful!

It currently resides in my Top 3 most despised commercials of all time.

1 of them was for Wisk, with its sing-songy playground catcall of "Ring around the collar! RING AROUND THE COLLAR!". And, even if it was some guy who was caut with the "offending" ring, it was his wife who looked all guilty and shame-faced about it. My friend Larry Stoffregen so loathed this commercial that he swore to his wife that, if she ever brot a bottle of Wisk home, she'd have to drink it all by herself. (They're divorced now; not sure whether her choice of detergent played a role in it or not.) I share Larry's detestation of this affront to human cognition.

The 3rd member of my Axis of Insipidity is that little kid in the British schoolboy's uniform, complete with short-billed cap, who I keep wanting to see get kicked in front of the onrushing Mazda in time to hear him go "Zoom zAAAAGGGGHHHH!".

I know these things are tested to a fare-thee-well before the companies behind them ever ante up the big bux for the TV screen time. But who in hell do they test them on? Do they have funeral benefits for the testers? Is it considered a passing grade if everybody in the test group remembers the commercial best because they hated it the most?

Maybe I'm being naive, but there are very few commercials that ever made me want to BUY a product. I watch a lot of football on TV, and I've never once seen a spot that made me want to drink beer, drive a sports car, or shave. The few that succeeded are the ones that made me choose 1 brand over another for something I was going to buy anyway. (A big shout-out here to the creative genii behind the Snickers commercials, especially the "Batman" one.)

The main effect commercials have on me is negative. A good commercial will only occasionally attract me to a product, but a bad commercial for sure will drive me away.

Since it's advertising that supports most modern media (print and Internet as well as radio and TV), I guess I should be grateful for it and make some modest effort to pay attention. But I value the minutes of my life too much, and the "fast forward" button (for taped programs) or the newspaper (for live ones) are just too handy.

So how did the "oo-oo" one get thru my defenses? Well, eternal vigilance may be the price for more than just liberty, and I guess I was behind on my payments. I shudder to think that there may be even worse ones out there.



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