Instead of Jared's, He Should Have Gone to Tiffany's - Jared Commercials

It chaps my ass to no end to think that the Jared jeweler commercials might be effective in drawing male drones in through its doors, but the truth is that it's probably a slam-dunk. Let's face the Yuletide facts and acknowledge that when it comes to gift giving, men take the shortest route and this is why what is possibly the most demeaning ad to women will win the race. The entire premise is this:

Men Believe That Women Will Deny Them Sex if they Don't Get Some *Bling*.
While it's true that I'm drawn to sparkly and shiny things, the thought of denying myself physical pleasure because I didn't get a pair of earrings is assinine. I don't care how brightly they shine. This argument falls flat, though, in the face of these facts:

Men Hate Malls
Gentlemen, point you to a stand-alone store with a huge sign in simple lettering over the front door and you're Sold. It's a well-known fact that you like "Easy to find"... no directions required. Notice how the last shot of the commercial shows that clearly marked front door?

Women Talk
Here's where Truth-In-Advertising comes in. We women do talk, but worse, we catty little wenches Compare. Once this line in the shifting sand of the "Push" is drawn, the entire premise of this ad campaign is a shoe-in. Gentlemen, your Stones had better be bigger and better than His.

Finally, If he Lack is Found, It's Turned On You
If it's been publicly established that every other woman's guy has a bigger set, you've succeeded in humiliating us both. The question becomes, How can you ever expect me to be satisfied with that inferior thing you offer?

Most of the commercial speaks to men, but to women it offers that the plainest, heaviest, and dowdiest woman is the one whose husband did not shop at the right jewelry store.

See how effective? Plant the seed of inadequacy, water it with a grain of truth, and watch Jared's beanstalk grow.

The irony is that once I get that shiny, sparkly piece in my greedy little hands, I won't care where it came from.


Three-Piece Nose Dive - SUV Commercials

Yes, we know that our daily grind lacks adventure. We prefer it that way when you get right down to it. Faith Popcorn saw this coming in the 90's and it hit hard an fast... too bad it hasn't left yet.

I'm talking about Cocooning. SearchSecurity.com defines it as "the act of insulating or hiding oneself from the normal social environment, which may be perceived as distracting, unfriendly, dangerous, or otherwise unwelcome, at least for the present.". It seems that driving a headlight-caged SUV is part of a distinct subset of this trend, described by Popcorn as The Armored Cocoon. We can now enjoy the illusion of being a brave adventuress who drives underwater, and our partners are so bold and virile that they take regular mile-high dives just to get to the office.

We've taken the insulation too far. So far, in fact, that our outlet for true adventures are firmly planted in our imagination and limited to our travels through the meanstreets of AnyVille. And since I drive a Miata whose roofline barely reaches halfway up a distracted Soccer Mom's wheel well, I can tell you that the everyday world of insulated families in monster vehicles has become a scary place indeed. I don't need to daydream about parachuting off a rocky cliff to get my daily adrenaline rush. I just need to watch for you, driving-while-phoning.


Vickie's Not-So Secret - Victoria's Secret Commercial

Victoria's Secret's got a hit. Talk about empowering women! It's long been known that a beautiful woman in underwear can distract even the staunchest men from the most serious task at hand, but this advert stops nearly everyone near a tv set, cold. Sure, the women parade in costumes more alluring than nudity itself, but this 30 seconds results in an all-around win situation for everyone involved. Consider:

Message to Subject:
Gaze upon the beauty of my female form. The woman in your life wants this, wants to look like this, and when you purchase these skimpy little pieces of cloth, she'll come as close as you're gonna get to this. As a bonus, you'll give her a beautiful gift to boost her lovely ego (read sexual confidence)

Message to Object:
Gaze upon the beauty of my female form. You, too, can look and feel like this with the bonus of feeling loved and admired if your subject purchases this skimpy little piece of cloth. You'll believe you're hot, if not simply hotter than you normally look in your white cotton briefs.

Message to Pusher not required. Money is received, profits are made, and an intoxicating mind-virus is born.


CapitalOne Commercial: Not in MY wallet.

Stuck in the world of bitter sophomoric office games, there's a series of commercials begging the question, "What's In Your Wallet?". It's a good thing this piece of Push is relieved by a second vignette featuring out of work Nordic Raiders. The alternate airing of both means that we get a breather between frat-boy stunts.

In these particularly distasteful commercials, the space which is similar to the one most of us occupy during our 9 to 5 workday is reduced to the high school hallways where witty upperclassmen mock the eager-to-please and overweight freshman. If the comparison to high school antics seems a bit harsh, consider the same scenario, four years into the future, where the unwitting Pledge suffers the scorn of more senior frat members. Same scenario, different schoolyard.

What this advertising message conveys is that these ridiculously hurtful and rigid social structures are not only repeated well into an "adult" corporate setting, but that it is, at least on some Dilbert level, deserved. What's worse, in these ads it's encouraged. Openness and a willingness to learn are mocked, while the lazy and spiteful reign supreme.

I doubt that even Dilbert would approve.


Sealed - Commercial with Great Sound

Whenever I see a certain commercial aired lately, I involuntarily pause to watch. I can never remember what the commercial is about, and it doesn't matter, really. It's his face, the deep valleys of those scars, and the rich brown glow of his skin. I think about that face a lot and wonder why it holds so much appeal. It's an attraction like the kind experienced when admiring a well-composed black and white photo, a bronze sculpture, or a perfectly angled camera shot in a good film.

I believe the reason for this commercial-induced trance is that I enjoy looking at his marked face. The camera shot is close up, highlighting what is normally airbrushed out or hidden with soft lighting. The lighting is actually harsh and unforgiving, cutting sharp shadows in the tracks. I like flaws... but only those that can't be helped, couldn't be avoided, or were accidentally acquired.

And the fact that he sings through them, smiles through... is beautiful. A moving work of art in the slow widening of his gap-toothed smile. I know makes me listen to his song, and isn't that all we ever ask?

Pushed Through The Box

I rarely watch television shows with rapt attention. Some might say that it's a straightforward case of ADD, but I'd call it Discerning Taste. Whatever. Most shows run out of steam either within their 30 or 60 minute time slot, or somewhere in the span of their meteoric rise to popularity. This inevitably results in The Downfall. Commercials suffer this fate less often. The fact that they're forced upon us in the midst of our peak relaxation time sets them up for a perilous fate, and the fact that some of them make it through our mental filters isn't testament to the product being hawked, but to the semiotics involved in the Push.