Cafe 227

Monday, January 23, 2006

Really Bad Advertisements

So as I was making the long, painful journey to the suburban dystopia in which I work this morning, I happily realized that I could safely listen to Sports Talk 980. (Because the Redskins lost last weekend, the Mike & Mike show wasn't be pre-empted for the painful and incoherent ramblings of Joe Jacoby). As I was gleefully listening to Golic and Greenie tout the acheivements of my beloved Steelers, I heard an advertisement for the following product:

The spot for Height Max begins with a man casually wondering aloud (and I'm paraphrasing here): "I'm concerned that my son is so short. Is there anything I can do about it?"

Apparently, there is something you can do - dope him up with this concoction, the growth supplement of choice for 12 to 25 year-olds. The web site says it all: "Perhaps, you girls wanted to be able to look your boyfriend in the eye when he kissed you. Perhaps, you just wanted to see over the steering wheel when you began to drive. Or perhaps you are a parent of an adolescent or young adult who is concerned about their [sic] height."

This sounds like a horrible idea for a plethora of reasons (safety, efficacy, the unintended consequences on your child's self esteem from forcing him or her to take an herbal growth supplement, etc). But this is not a forum to discuss the need for FDA regulation of dietary supplements. Rather, I'd like to point out the group of kids they're using to market this thing:

A marketing disaster, to say the least. I mean, say I'm a short kid, and I hear this advertisement on the radio. I'm sick of not being able to see over the steering wheel when I drive. So I go to the web site, as instructed, to get more information. All of the sudden, I'm confronted with this collection of social misfits. And I start thinking to myself: "Holy shit, if I take this pill, will I start to tuck in my tacky, pastel color T-shirts into my jeans? Will I grow a cheesy porn-stache like that doofus in the blue? This shit's definitely not for me."

So that reminded me of another really, really bad advertisement I saw recently - this one for Grand Marnier in the most recent issue of The Atlantic. It's part of their recent "the conversation is waiting" ad campaign. This particular ad poses the following question: "Are we the United States, or simply the red and blue states?" Pictured under the question is a bottle of Grand Marnier, with the aforementioned punchline (i.e., "the conversation...") superimposed over it.

Now, I know Grand Marnier. I am a friend of Grand Marnier (literally - check out its Friendster profile). And I can honestly say that no one is capable of having this conversation after a few shots of GM (which is, by the way, the only acceptable way of consuming it). In fact, no one would even want to have this conversation - it's a total fucking buzz-kill, even in DC. It's much easier to talk about that girl you could have almost hooked up with at TomTom last weekend before you got too drunk to communicate with her anymore, and hey, let's do another shot of GM! now what was I saying?, and so on. Besides, the backdrop of the ad is completely red, which sort of contradicts a Grand Marnier spokesperson's assertion that "[w]e’re not taking a position on any of the issues in the campaign." Sure you're not, Steve.

Why can't anyone make good advertisements anymore?


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