Nextel and Sprint's Commercials Are Pushin' It Real Good

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This commercial works with or without sound. It's so popular that it's made comeback more than a year after being introduced.
...My eyes snap to the tv whenever I hear the driving music...

TBWA\Chiat\Day New York was responsible for putting it out in 2004, but with the Sprint/Nextel marriage, it's been reintroduced, and I still find it funny. The Push has several brilliant layers:

1. Without sound the message delivered is that Nextel helps keep work interruptions as short as possible so that the real "business" at hand can resume.

2. With sound, that same message is enhanced and even though I don't understand a word being said, my eyes snap to the television whenever I hear that driving music.

3. Once I actually listen to the snappy and concise dialogue, I understand the variety of uses for the product.

4. The closing frames hold the real message, and they've employed a delicious tactic in getting me to watch the fun until Nextel's "business at hand" is delivered. The message, "Push It" refers to the walkie talkie button as well as the advert. In that way, this very clever commercial is self-referential.

It's no wonder its won several awards.

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Geico Commercials: Where British Geckos Run

...Exactly What sort of accent does that Gecko have?...

That's not the Queen's English I hear.

It's difficult to understand why an ad agency might feel that an American might want to purchase insurance from a little green British gecko. There are several reasons why this advertising campaign's Push makes little sense.

1. Geckos are not commonly found in England. Besides, wasn't he Australian last year?
2. Though they're cute, there's no track record here for advancing insurance sales.
3. Geckos are not known to be especially wise on matters of insurance.
4. They're cute. Insurance has never been "cute".

As far as I'm concerned an animation competition between Rhythm and Hue's salamander and Wildbrain's Erin Esurance is no contest.

Sorry, Pink-haired Erin wins. Hands down.

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Theraflu's Magic Elixir

Theraflu's creepy commercials get an excellent MSN commentary by Seth Stevenson in this article, found here.

When I first saw the spots, I was also under the impression that it may have been an ad for a new monster flick and I paid attention for the full allotted time slot. It seemed to wonderfully capture my feelings of appearing to be a disgusting ogre whenever a cold or flu renders me sneezy, drippy, and otherwise untouchable.
... Drippy and otherwise untouchable...

Theraflu ads bring to life the unspoken horror of living within a body filled with contamination by way of a green, swollen, and generally ugly man slogging his way through the public. His ostracization is ended, miraculously, when a little girl takes pity on him and hands him a magical transforming elixir.

If a medicine can cure my social exile during my time of neediness, I'm buying. Oh, and if it can cure even a monster of his ugliness, I'm heavily investing!

photo: Theraflu.com

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Oh, Please No, Sprint

Tell me the vehicle for this USA Today article about a new Burger King Push method isn't true. This marketing hurts on two levels, the first being that the new medium for 30 or 60 second spots is carried with you throughout your day (talk about a captive audience), and secondly, what in hell is a Whopperette and will little girls want the costume for next year's halloween party?
... What in the World is a Whopperette?!...

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CitiBank: Burnin' Down The House

Not only has the practice of speaking to a human being during a banking customer service call become rare, according to CitiBank, its a luxury for those who Live Richly. Ironically, we're supposed to do this with a "Simplicity" card.

The spots depict a balding everyguy bathed in the muted tones filmmakers have now begun to use to signify the drabness of our everyday existence. Dull, gray, and without warmth or personality. Poor Everyguy, he just wants to seamlessly complete his customer service transaction without accidentally burning his house down and I can feel his pain. It seems all calls to places of business now involve punching numbers, repeating numerals to a seemingly deaf ear, and juggling ID cards, cell phones, and documents.

"For English, Press or Say 1"
"Para Espanol, marke el dos", or something to that effect.

Thankfully, there's a creditor who will gladly take your interest payments and apply a portion to the salaries of human beings hired to await your phone call. Well, you'll still have to punch keys through the automated system before can you find them.

For an excellent commentary on how this card compares to CitiBank's other card offers, visit Being Reasonable.

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Gap Commercial: "Pardon Our Dust"

Entertaining Oxymoron: Anarchy at The Gap

Click here to watch the complete 30 seconds of anarchy.

Is this liberating Spike Jonze commercial Pushed through your Idiot Box? I haven't seen it except for video clips on the internet but wish it would air in my area. It would undoubtedly get me to put down my glass of merlot to watch.

I'm hoping the remodeling of the Gap stores lives up to the radical change the commercial seems to promise. It would be pretty unfortunate yet not surprising, however, if the actions within it prompted a viral response.

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Only You Can Prevent OnStar Commercials

Television is a visual medium, but OnStar, you've forgotten how to use it.

Yes, you've proven that injured and frightened people can be recorded in their worst moments, but listen carefully:

I can't understand what the poor person is saying, and that really annoys me. It annoys me to the point that I've begun to believe that you're exploiting the potentially limbless individual who isn't able to reach a cell phone. I'm sure that your services have probably helped quite a few people in their hour of need, but wouldn't it be a better idea to show them after the fact? Show being the operative word, here.

It seems that juxtaposing the immediacy of the raw call for help with the appreciative customer would give the message a better Push.

I'm just sayin'.

Photo: Worth 1000.com

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NetZero Commercial Attacks AOL, Attacks Self

Most NetZero commericals are parodies attacking their larger competitor. I can understand how they'd think this was a great idea, I mean, if you're the little kid on the block offering the same lemonade as the big bully at half the price, why not point out that your cup's bigger than his. Makes sense. Sure, I might even try the "kick him in the shins and run" tactic.

But you can really take a good idea too far. My point is that NetZero has an ad running which uses the same actors as AOL, the same boardroom setting, and basic storyline. The problem is that I never noticed that it wasn't AOL. What the ad folks seem to have missed is that most of us don't sit with rapt attention when an ad gets Pushed to us. We're surfing, reading, catching up on conversations, or just plain living.

It all boils down to the same adage... Don't tell me how smart and witty you are, show me.

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Meet Ted Ferguson, Daredevil - Bud Light Commercial

If you've ever wanted some television stunts you could safely try at home, meet tv's newest daredevil, Ted Ferguson.

According to BeverageWorld Online, he's the new weapon in the Great War Between the Beers. Ted's philosophy, "Always Worth It", refers to his beverage of choice, Bud Light, and he'll do nearly anything to get it including:

Actually listening to his girlfriend.
Remaining at the office two minutes past 5:00 pm.
Listening to an entire John Tesh CD.
Not looking at a table of hot chicks while lunching with his girlfriend.

The mind reels with the possibilities for injury here, so all of his stunts are performed with helmut and eyewear.

His reward for enduring this brutality is that his pals come rushing in in the nick of time with a cold Bud Light, towels, airbag, and just about anything he needs to recover from the trauma. It's actually funny stuff, especially if you're a fan of Johnny Knoxville and his band of maniacs in Jackass (the movie or series). The popularity of Ted's character is fueled by the fact that many of us have already bravely stayed at the office two minutes past quitting time or had to listen to a John Tesh or Kenny G cd without the benefit of a cold one or the support of a team of friends.

I'll be waiting for Ted's girlfriend to star in her own series where she takes on his dim-witted but admittedly amusing antics.

Please, go ahead and try these stunts at home.


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Oily Headaches Lasting More Than 4 Hours?!

I'm just wondering how long it will take to get those damn prescription drug ads off the air.

Honestly, do you actually remember the product or just its disgusting side effects?

Oily Discharge
Erections Lasting More than 4 Hours
Gas and Bloating

The ads are usually aired between the hours of 5 and 7pm, during the local and national news. These slots are chosen because drug company ad execs believe that responsible (read that as paranoid) adults who believe the hype of the nightly news are also gullible hypochondriacs willing to trust ad executives when they tell us to "ask your doctor" about [fill in drug of choice here].

I can hear the hypochondriac's mental screech as the commercial announcer runs down the list of symptoms.

"I've got that!"


photo:Onur Aksoy

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eHarmony Commercial: Hitting The Dating Mark?

Ever wonder what type of person a computerized matchmaker would choose as your mate? Is there a programmed formula for finding the right partner? Would that program have hit the mark with my already chosen mate?

eHarmony's got me curious, and though I'd love to hate them, it's the reason I'd consider the commercials successful.

Whether or not I believe the offered service will result in discovering a soulmate is irrelevant. As a matter of fact, I don't want to be matched with any specific person since I'm nicely paired right now, but the ads leave me wondering what sort of qualities an objective third party believes would compliment me and my lifestyle. I'm ready to sign up just to see the list! Would they choose a long-haired and dangerous biker type or a safe, conservative accountant? The possibilities in between are endless and that's where they've got me. It's not about finding a date, it's about getting a better picture of myself. Appealing to my ego is what a good part of marketing is designed to do.

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Pimp My In(e)surance Company - Esurance Commercial

Thanks to some folks over at Ghostbot and Wildbrain Animation Studios I've been quite entertained by a hip and edgy animation. It features a pink-haired, sassy spy by the name of Erin Esurance who swoops in (just in time, naturally) to assist hapless but handsome tough guys.

It's not often that I can immediately recall a product pushed by a particular commercial without having been thumped over the head with it, but this series is a delightful exception. The otherwise horrifically dull subject of selecting insurance companies has been pimped into creative and well-constructed eye candy and what results is entertainment I sometimes find preferrable to the show it interrupts. Sending a sales pitch through a series featuring an intelligent, witty and youthful fashionista-spy is a great way to target self-proclaimed sassy women and girls of all ages. The fact that she sports rather generous curves in all the right places helps attract the eye of those who'd rather reflect on her Barbie proportions. Either way and for whatever reason the personal appeal, Erin grabs the viewers in this household and hangs on even as she swings from rooftops, destroys robots, and zooms off in her hybrid.... in the driver's seat, of course.

Is it too trite to give a commercial a thumbs-up?

Photo Credit:  rumorsdaily.com

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YES, I can hear you! - Verizon Commercial

On the heels of my last post, I'll give you a cell phone network whose advertising brain reserve believes that I'd want an entire army of people moving with my every step, whirring in helicopters overhead, and listening to my every word.

To go from an innocuous "Can you hear me now?" campaign, amusing in that it echoes so many of our own real conversations, to a paranoia-inducing Big Brother campaign is a little disconcerting. Actually, make that a lot disconcerting. Millions of people seem to have the ability to eavesdrop and track me, and, to boot, I had to sign a contract to get this deal.

Theft of privacy should be as scary a notion as Identity Theft. To add insult to what Verizon's injured, I've also found this little gem from His Side with Glenn Sacks on their other, more questionable ad campaigns.

Let my nightmares begin.

Note: Immediately after posting this, I came across this post on Americablog which details how anyone can purchase your cell phone records online for $110 per request, apparently just for the asking.

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5 Questions for the Boogeymen - IBM Commercial

It's pretty tough to fighten me through a commercial, but IBM's gone and done it.
I have a few questions about their latest helpdesk commercial featuring a truck screeching to a halt in front of a suited woman behind a desk. She just happens to be planted in the middle of the road because the truck has gone off of its route.

Whatever the reason for the deviation from the assigned route, the commercial leads me to a few questions.

1. IBM, are you kidding me?

2. Have we really accepted the fact that inanimate objects can channel information directly to you, then report on us?

3. Are you under the impression that this fact should be advertised on television because the average viewer would really like to know that he's being watched and tracked?

4. Are there any plans to regulate you and your RFID tags and the implications of planting them for the purpose of reporting on employees?

5. Have you gotten so Big, Blue, that you've bought into your own omniscience?

And finally, Have I asked enough questions?

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Watch It Wiggle - Jello Commercial

Move over Bill Cosby. It seems that your old sponsor no longer needs a famous comedian to entertain us. It's taken the company a long time to fill your shoes, but I think they've done it.

I caught the tail end of a new commercial today and can't wait to see it again. What I saw were beautifully lit closeup shots of transparent, wiggly cutouts and odd shapes just gyrating for joy all over my tv screen. Later, brightly-colored costumed dancers ended the spot by flopping down in ecstasy to form the word "Jello" still wiggling and wriggling with excitment.

I find myself surfing to catch and watch the entire 30 seconds. More to come when I see it again.

Have you?

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Stuffing My Chalupas - TacoBell Commercial

How important is it to have a full stomach after a meal purchase?

This "Mexican" fast food chain at the sign of the Bell has decided that it means Everything to their target and by airing commercials during the chosen time slots, they've identified the "target" to be me. Well, don't feel left out. They mean you too.

The chosen message for the costly 30 second spots is reduced to the fact that, if nothing else, I'll at least have the satisfaction of feeling full after devouring a taco. The ambitious fast food chain is not just banking on this single gluttonous factor for driving it's success, but has determined that the message is profound enough to warrant actors proudly shouting it in my ear. Here, the issue of the food quality is non-existent, and the Pushers have declared that I've reached an ironically empty conclusion that stuffing an empty hole in my body is far more desirable than what's placed into it.

Unabashed consumerism at its most basic level occurs when it's disguised as serving a basic need for nourishment.

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You Can Do It. We Can Help - Home Depot Commercial

The title above is a slogan for one of the two Big Dogs of the home improvement store game. If I were to base my decision to shop there on the commercials, I'm not buying it. When I'm dirty, sweaty, and possibly bleeding from my latest attempt to repair just about anything around my house, I want to talk to someone who's got scars. Let me see hands with callouses, and maybe even a missing fingertip or two. It's hard-earned experience that counts when your talking electrical work or plumbing.

The helpful salesfolk in the commercials look so softly lit, friendly, neat and clean, and that's just not convincing enough for me. Don't give me someone who looks like me, give me someone who can tell me how to rip my wall down without causing the second floor to cave in.


Such an Amateur - DIY Commercials

I used to think that local commercials which feature the owner or proprieter should be remade with professional actors, but I'm no longer so cock-sure of myself. (Either that or I needed to work a tantalizing word into this blog)

Aren't we more likely to purchase from those we feel comfortable with even if that comfort is due to proximity? Considering most of us have no acting ability, we may find ourselves in the position of admiring a business owner who's willing to personally present his or her wares to the world rather than have a stand-in or franchised heavy do the dirty work.

Is it a return to the "neighborhood" or have we come to the point in commerce where the franchise is more familiar than our neighbor?



AOL Commercial -Wants You to Fear Your Internet

A giant of an internet service provider has decided that capitalizing on the current atmosphere of fear is the best method for their Push. The trend of feeding on consumer fear began in the 90's, was horrifically fueled by the events of 9/11, and shows no sign of stopping. It's the reason we drive bigger and bigger cars, take prescription drugs to prevent diseases we've barely been diagnosed with, and lock ourselves ever more securely behind closed doors and drawn curtains. The bogeyman of the Big Bad Outside world can now come to get us right in our own cocoon. He just uses our computer.

Unless we subscribe to a certain internet provider, that is.

The fear of malicious internet intruders is real and for any computer user, the prospect of being attacked by something we have no knowledge of how to protect ourselves against is daunting, to say the very least. Using hip, young spokespersons who are ready with answers before the questions are even presented, reinforces the notion that they are at least one step ahead of the perpetrator. So that the consumer/viewer isn't completely frightened away by the idea that the world of technology will turn against us, the commercial shows the "average" person within the walls of the ISP's offices as if we're able to just drop by to ask questions of friendly and knowledgeable people who will happily fire off pithy responses.

To reassure a potential customer that you've not only figured out how to keep the Big Bad Internet Wolf away, but are readily accessible to allay all of their hacker fears is a most effective ad campaign indeed.


What Say You? Commercials catch your eye?

I'm in the mood for some interaction, 'cause I know I've had some readers lurking about without leaving comments. This leads me to the conclusion that you're either shy, or find this topic... or maybe my writing style, rather dull. Since most folks I know have an opinion on their favorite or most hated commercials, I'd like to invite you to post a comment about the advert that tickles you, or... the one which nearly prompts you to write a letter of protest to the Pusher. Go ahead. Be anonymous. Just leave a comment. Let me know which direction you'd like to see this blog move in. Grin.

Please, indulge me. So that readers can easily access your comments, they'll pop up in a handy little window.

Salud, y'all.

'Tis the Season for the Guilty

Now that I've gorged, stuffed, and swallowed all manner of guilty pleasures over the past month and a half, it's time to pay the diet piper. And there are plenty of commercials airing for my viewing pleasure with the promise of a lithe and lean figure if only I repent and join their particular weight-loss religion.

I want to repent, rejoice, and be saved by them all.

I'd love to be baptized by Jenny. Her food looks so delicious, how could I ever be deprived? Besides, as an added bonus, apparently I'll have men whistling at my form as I parade down the dark and dimly lit streets. Better yet, they'll stop to dance then flip me in the air where I'll do several summersalts, tumbling as light as a butterfly. *Sigh*

But... Lean's cuisine shows me commercials where diners moan and groan with a celibate pleasure as they describe last night's gastronomic indulgence. Their friends look on in envy. The diner's display of enthusiasm is near to a public orgasm. I want one of those.

At the Church of the Watched Weight, I'll hug and dance with my girlfriends, swim in the pool, and generally be happy to diet. Besides, everyone loves to collect Points.

Perhaps an offering of a pill will eliminate the need for food at all. Zantrex, Hydroxycut, Hoodia, or Trimspa. My choices are endless and tiny and so are the spokesperson/preachers.

All of these commercials hit the bullseye as far as I'm concerned. They aim straight for my biggest vulnerability, my vanity. When's the next meeting?

Happy Post-Holidays!