The spot: A woman walks through the supermarket doing the weekly shopping. Everyone she encounters asks about the sling, and she provides different, varying excuses: rollerblading, hang gliding, mountain biking. Finally, she meets another woman with an identical sling. After a knowing glance, they are able to exchange with each other the truth of their matching injuries: hard water stains.
I honestly do not believe this commercial conjured up thoughts of battered women hiding their injuries caused by abusive spouses behind flimsy excuses on purpose, if only because she never sheepishly claims to have "fallen down some stairs" (which is, as we all know, the cliched excuse given by every battered woman in every Lifetime movie ever made).
Still, the Suze and I both independently came to the same conclusion when we saw this commercial over the weekend. And there is still the small matter of what REALLY caused the broken arm: the over exertion due to scrubbing away at lime stains, or the beating that ensued when hubby was dissatisfied with the results? Either way, better get some Lime Away, woman!
If you haven't seen this guy yet, you will. But I'm guessing his grinning face and intense, creepy love for State Farm have been all over your television already. In this spot, you follow him into a coffee shop while he tells you about the greatness of State Farm, oblivious to the harried waitstaff all around him. Also, Stanley from The Office is there for some reason (check the five second mark).
In another one, he stands on a busy street next to a State Farm agent who is ready to tell you about the services they offer, if this guy would shut is goddamn mouth for two seconds and let her talk. Such devotion does State Farm's insurance inspire in this guy! He can't hold it in, but must spew his words all over you, the potential customer.
Consider the following:
The appeal to trust, family, friends.
The strength of numbers: 40 million! There are 40 million of us! Join us... Join us...
And, to top it off, this guy looks uncannily like noted cult enthusiast Tom Cruise.
I don't know what you are selling, exactly, State Farm, but the unbridled enthusiasm of your spokesman makes me think that I desperately do not want it.
The conservative nightmare endgame of environmental politics would be a world in which we are told what lightbulbs, shopping bags, and drink containers we can use; in which the government monitors our waste streams to find improper disposal of batteries or failure to recycle; in which, even inside the supposed safety and privacy of our own homes, our every move is watched and evaluated for conformity to environmental principles.
This is the world that Audi presents us with in its Super Bowl commercial from last night. Green Police are on top of your every move, dragging away otherwise law-abiding citizens for infractions against a strict environmental code. And in this world, the correct car to drive is an Audi TDI. Why does Audi package its environmentally friendly car inside a dystopian enviro-fascist nightmare? Who is it targeting with this ad?
Honestly, I'm not sure. Here's my theory: the commercial is obviously not aimed at you. If you are an environmentalist, than this commercial is openly mocking you. Instead, this commercial is targeting those that think recycling is a waste of time, that climate change is a fraud, and that personally freedom trumps societal needs. In other words: if you were at the Teabaggers Convention (or at least wanted to be), then this commercial was aimed at you. It reflects the world as you see it: an oppressive regime stripping you of your personal freedoms under the (false) guise of environmentalism. And in this world of oppression, the only way to avoid being scrutinized and outcast by society is to conform.
So, uh... I guess Audi figured everybody who actually cared about the environment was already driving a Prius?
Two legal cases. Two Super Bowl ads. One fucked up decision by CBS.
A Kansas jury, in an almost unbelievable display of intelligence and comprehension, has convicted Scott Roeder of murder in the killing of Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller was one of only a handful of doctors in the US who performed late-term abortions. Roeder (who it feels like somewhat of an understatement at this point to call an anti-abortion activist) walked up behind Dr. Tiller in the foyer of his church before Sunday services, and shot him point blank in the back of the head.
(Quick sidebar: There exists a provision in Kansas law by which someone may be found guilty of voluntary manslaughter instead of murder if the killer has an "unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force". Roeder's lawyers unsuccessfully attempted to use this provision to get the severity of his sentence downgraded. Isn't this an incredibly persuasive argument? Here's what I mean: if you truly believe that a fetus is equal to a baby as Roeder clearly does, then in his eyes, Dr. Tiller was murdering babies every day. If somebody actually was murdering babies every day, would those circumstances not justify deadly force? All this is not to mean that Roeder should have been acquitted of murder, but rather that Kansas is, collectively, fucking retarded for having such a law in the first place.)
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow will star in an anti-abortion ad with his mother. While pregnant, Tebow's mom considered having an abortion before, I dunno, probably praying or some shit.
The Federal Appeals Court is currently deliberating a constitutional challenge to Prop 8, the controversial California law that banned same sex marriage in that state. Arguing for the pro-gay marriage side are David Boies and Theodore Olsen, the two lawyers who argued on opposite sides before the Supreme Court of the Bush v. Gore gas. Arguing for the anti-gay marriage side are, I presume, a bunch of horrible bigots who should just kill themselves.
[The spot: a young man with a glazed look in his eyes pulls his van up to the Jack In The Box drive through. He leans out and asks for the 99 tacos for 2 cents deal. When he is rebuffed by the cashier, he is confused until the talking Jack on his dashboard informs him that its 2 tacos for 99 cents, not the other way around. "That's even less!" he exclaims excitedly. "You weren't really going to eat 99 tacos, were you?" Dashboard Jack asks. "No... yeah," the driver admits sheepishly.]
Ha ha, Jack In The Box, very funny. Stoners like to drive their vans to your restaurants late at night and eat your cheap food. Except you know what happens when stoners go through the drive through? They RUN OVER LITTLE BLACK GIRLS ON THEIR BICYCLES, that's what.
The whole ad isn't online, but you know the one I'm talking about.
Or did you put a white guy in your ad because you think white people are more capable drivers while stoned? Hmm? Which is it, Jack? Either you want us to get high, drive to your restaurant, and kill a bunch of innocent black girls who are constantly riding their bicycles across driveways, or you only want the white stoners to eat your shitty food.
We already knew you were some kind of space monster on the outside, Jack, with your horrifying huge head and expression that only changes while you are off camera. Now we know what kind of monster you are... on the inside.
The spot: A man is jostled on a crowded city bus. Another man peddles his bicycle in a suit through the driving rain, wiping the dampness out of his eyes and swerving to and fro. A third man, strapped into a helmet, navigates a Segway - a Segway! - through a crowded street. "Many people are trying to do their part," intones the announcer. Then, we see an old station wagon chugging up a mountain road, with a gleaming white car speeding along up behind it. As the white beast tears past the wagon, we get a push in on the wagon's bumper sticker: "Powered by Vegetable Oil." The announcer tells us, "Some just have more fun doing it," as the powerful Audi races by. On screen text informs us that this is the new Audi A3 TDI, which gets 42 mpg and produces 30% fewer emissions. Cut to a screen with the text, "Diesel: its no longer a dirty word. TDI Clean Diesel."
This has already made a few laps around the internet, so perhaps you have already seen it:
Initial reaction ranged from "Burger King is objectifying women!" to "Hahaha sandwiches are shaped like penises!" to "Hahaha Burger King is objectifying women with sandwiches that are shaped like penises!*"
A more considered reaction: who is Burger King advertising to?
Clearly its not women. I have conducted years of market research that has left me convinced that women do not react well to invitations to stuff 7 inches of meat** into their mouth, even if you promise that it just tastes better or it will blow their mind away. It goes even worse if you suggest they assume the disposition of a sex toy, and lie there and take it. (Note not only the open "O" shaped mouth, and doll-like makeup, but also the lack of hands on the sandwich. She is not actively engaged with the sandwich, it is being jammed down her throat - she is being sandwich raped.)
But is it men? While the sexual politics of the ad are clearly aimed at young males, the implementation is more confused. The male who reacts positively to this ad sees himself not as the customer, but rather as the product. In this ad the viewer wants to be the sandwich. But Burger King wants you to be the woman. So the young male who is persuaded by this ad goes to Burger King to have the 7 inch meat shoved down HIS throat.
The only happy customer I can think of is the sexually confused, closeted fraternity member. The frat boy in him enjoys (or at least pretends to enjoy to keep up his facade) the objectification of the woman. But the other, hidden part of him loves the thought of going to Burger King and devouring the delicious phallus.
So, uh, well done Burger King. You've got that market nailed down.
*I think this last one might have been my initial reaction
**Disclaimer: I neither confirm nor deny that I am in possession of 7 inches of meat
Hey, check out the Big Gay Flag at the five second mark...and then, a few seconds later, a golfer with the Human Rights Campaign patch right there on his shirt. Social Conservatives (Cobras) better be careful, because Teh Gheys (Mongooses) are sending secret messages via Orbitz commercials. The giant gay conspiracy to take over the world is on bitches!
The spot: Kobe and Lebron are roommates, and also puppets. Puppet Lebron takes a phone call from their neighbor, Mrs. Lewis. They have to babysit Lil Desmond while she is out. What follows is a series of vignettes of home life for puppet Lebron and Kobe, as interrupted by the incessant chatter of Lil Desmond: puppet Lebron and Kobe play video games, lift weights, hang out and grill by the pool, have a cozy lunch, and read quietly. Lil Desmond is finally silenced when puppet Lebron and Kobe show him their shoe warehouse, where he stares with quiet awe and takes a pull from his inhaler. puppet Lebron and Kobe share a knowing glance.
I am only going to mention briefly how embarrassing this series of ads must be for Nike now that Lebron failed to come through with his part in the inevitable pairing of the present (Kobe) and future (Lebron) superstars of the NBA. That, ultimately, is not my interest in these ads, particularly this most recent one. I am more fascinated by the depiction of puppet Kobe and Lebron's life together.
Take the ad above, and remove Lil Desmond from the picture. Lebron and Kobe play video games together, work out together, hang out shirtless by the pool together, and enjoy lunch in a cozy nook somewhere in the apartment together. Is this how a couple of roommates spend their time? Or are they, you know... "roommates?"
I have anticipated this reaction: Jesse, is there any advertisement in which you don't see homosexuality? Hey, I'm just calling them like I see them. And what I see is a couple of presumably male puppets living together, sharing every waking moment.
Once you see it, you can't unsee it. This ad is now Kobe dealing with his lover Lebron while he tweaks out on crystal meth. This ad features clips of Kobe (aka the Black Mamba, the gayest nickname of all time) over a thumping dance beat you would hear in a gay dance club. And you know this ended with puppet Kobe and Lebron collapsing into each others arms for some rough, sweaty, gay puppet sex.
Ron Artest, you just helped force the Lakers into a game 7 despite your fellow stars being injured. What's on your mind?"
"Five Dollar Foot-long' is one of the best songs. That's a hot song. You've got the FreeCreditReport.com, and then 'Five Dollar Foot-long' comes on. When 'Five Dollar Foot-long' comes on, they should play that in the club. They should play all those in the club."
The spot: We are in a world that is, literally, made of money. A sad money Abraham Lincoln looks out over a money river from a money bridge in a money park. He comes upon a sad money lady (who may or may not be a lady who is on some money in Europe). She drops a money tissue. Money Abe Lincoln picks it up, and they look into each others eyes. Cue dating montage: money walk in the park, money rowing in a lake, money roller coaster ride, money picnic, and night of explicit money sexual activity. "Make your money multiply with us," says the ad, as we see the money lady walking in the park with a baby carriage full of money children, and making eyes with her new prospective beau: money Kim Jong Il.
We end Advertising Week here at the OC with this spot from BonTrust Bank (suggested by OC tipper joem). Much like this previous ad, this really makes me want to move to Europe (albeit for slightly different reasons).
The ad takes a pretty obvious conceit of money multiplying, and jams it into your head with a montage of explicit sexual activity by ostensibly inanimate objects. I'm no prude, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't immediately shocked (at least a little bit) when money lady was going to town on money Lincoln's money penis. (I both acknowledge and lament the prudishness of my initial reaction - and I'm considered a liberal!)
Consider the American parallel: the puppet sex scene in Team America World Police. Not only was that movie rated R, but the MPAA gave the first cut of the movie an NC-17 rating; the first cut had too much explicit sex! With puppets!
Our country lost it's collective mind over half a second of Janet Jackson's nipple (fun fact: that was in Houston). What is it like to grow up in a place where ads like this run on
television, and tabloid newspapers have naked boobs on the front page
at the newsstand?
The spot: The now-familiar "America Runs On Dunkin" logo appears on screen as the announcer says that, yes, America does in fact run on Dunkin. But then the "run" logo is seen running alongside the Houston light rail train. Then he runs through the fountain near the Museum District. Then he runs in front of Minute Maid Park (nee Enron Field), where the Astros play. "And now, Houston does too," the announcer says, cryptically. The ad ends with no further explanation.
I recorded this cryptic commercial off my television one hour ago. I have thought about nothing else since. IS DUNKIN DONUTS COMING TO HOUSTON?!? IS IT TRUE? An internet search turned up a story about Dunkin Donuts planned Houston expansion...from last year. There has been no news since, and, oh yeah, the economy has gone in the shitter.
But is Dunkin Donuts forging ahead? Is our long national nightmare over? Is Houston about to be invaded by Dunkin Donuts? My head swims. My heart sings. Do not toy with me like this, Dunkin Donuts.
Can we discuss these video commercials you've been doing for the ASPCA with Sarah McLachlan? They're completely ridiculous, entirely over-the-top, and although I know you mean well, I need for them to stop. I only have so much money, you see, and I can't watch these things without thinking that I need to immediately send all of it to somebody, anybody, to make these damned things just stop.
I suppose that's the point. The ASPCA has admitted as much on their own blog. "We're manipulating you to give us gobs of money...now, where's your checkbook?" Although this is mightily strategic, it seems a bit unsavory. Can't you just tell me that animals are suffering without actually showing it? Frankly, I can't handle suffering. I don't want to see pain, if I can possibly avoid it, and you're playing on this weakness of mine by showing me these horrific animals with eyes the size of volleyballs and audible blinks that ring out in your brain like Edgar Allen Poe's The TellTale Heart.
Then you chuck Sarah McLachlan in there, a woman who harkens back to my long-ago youth when every young woman I knew loved Sarah McLachlan and Jakob Dylan's dreamy blue eyes, in that order. And she's singing that unforgivably sappy song "Angel," which was as awful then as it is now.
As if that isn't enough, each of these advertisements goes on and on and on, for five and ten and twenty minutes at a time, with "Angel" being looped so that more suffering animals can be crammed onto my television screen. And they play regularly, so you can't watch some channels without seeing this madness three and four times in a day, if not more.
And at the end of them, here is where I find myself: reminiscing about my long-lost youth, listening to a horrible song, being asked for money, all while watching animals suffer. Thanks. Whatever vibe I might have been enjoying has now been entirely replaced by the madness that sets in enduring these things.
Needless to say, how much do I have to send to make them stop? How many animals do I have to adopt? What do I have to do so that you'll quit messing up my good days with these hellspawned commercials?
PS: Sarah McLachlan is hot. Yes, she was one of the leaders of the Lilith Fair, and yes, a lot of young women really enjoyed Lilith because it was somehow freeing from the vast patriarchy that dominates society, and yes, it patriarchal to reduce her accomplishments to her looks, but she's easy on my eyes.
The spot: A precocious young boy and his mother go laptop shopping at Best Buy. The voice-over tells us they are looking for something with "speed, a big hard drive, and a good gaming computer." If they find what they want for under $1500, they can keep it. They look at some PCs. Then they go over to the Mac section, where Mom exclaims, "Whoa, these are way more money, dude!" The boy comments that they are "a little too small", although Mom admits that "they are pretty." The boy concludes: "Maybe we'd rather go PC." Eventually, the boy and his mom settle on a Sony VAIO laptop. At the end, they are handed a wad of cash to go with it, presumably all the money they saved by not purchasing a Mac.
And with that, Microsoft unveils its newest rallying cry: "By a PC, because, while they may be cheap pieces of crap, its a recession and you can't afford anything nicer."
I am a little late to this party. This series of ads, which is called "Laptop Hunters", has already been mercilessly ridiculed and lampooned throughout the internets. The series started with Lauren purchasing an HP Pavilion ("Lauren" was later outed as an actress) and Giampaolo HP HDX (who was later outed by me as looking like a douchebag).
Others have ably pointed out that the computers purchased in these spots are actually terrible, terrible machines, and that Macs are not actually very expensive when compared to PCs that have similar hardware. Instead, the reason that Macs seem expensive is because they don't sell low end machines to compete in the $500-$1000 laptop market. So I'm not going to harp on any of these points. Instead, I need to ask: are these ads at all convincing?
So far we have an actress, a douchebag, and an 11-year-old boy and his mom deciding that a PC is the way to go. WELL, NO SHIT. PCs still dominate the market for computers over Macs. Obviously there is a whole world full of actresses and douchebags and moms out there purchasing PCs because they are cheap. Find me one nerd who would buy a PC instead of a Mac. Just one! YOU CAN'T DO IT. Even in a recession, nerds know better.
These are the same people who would buy one digital camera over another because it is 12 megapixels instead of 8 megapixels. These are not people who know what they are talking about. Oh, really? That's the laptop, I should buy, 11 year old boy? THANK YOU FOR IMPARTING YOUR WISDOM TO ME.
Positioning yourself as the cheap alternative may work in the short term. But even douchebag Giampaolo couldn't stop himself from talking about how sexy Macs are, on camera, in a PC commercial. You can't buy advertising like that.
[Ed. note: This week is turning into advertising week on ObscureBlog. Stay tuned for even more tomorrow!] The spot: Open on a man in his apartment, on his couch, typing on his laptop. He is sweating and hot. He looks at his thermostat; the shadow is stretching out into the shape of a Coca Cola bottle. He steps out of his apartment, and into a bustling streetscape. Everywhere he looks he sees signs of refreshment, as well as that Coca Cola silhouette. A man opens a paint bucket with the "fizz" sound of a bottle opening; children open up a fire hydrant; balloons clink along like ice cubes; water glugs out of a Coke bottle fountain; he bumps into an army of men in short-sleeved white shirts and Coke-shaped ties, each encounter sounding like ice clinking against the side of a glass. The music builds to a crescendo, until he finally arrives at a tiny corner store. He purchases a Coke. Aaaah.
[The spot: Two fashionable young men walk up to the counter in Progressive's insurance super market, which may or may not exist in the Matrix. "May I help you?" says the woman behind the counter who isn't Maggie Gyllenhaal but clearly wants to be. "Hi, I need to start saving on car insurance," says one of them. He is wearing thick rimmed glasses, a gray t-shirt with a rainbow on it, and a snappy blazer. "Money a bit tight?" says WBTCWIMGBCWTB. "Yeah, I've had to cut back, sell some stuff," says the first man. His... friend... chimes in: "Like his watch," he says, jutting his left arm out for WBTCWIMGBCWTB to inspect. After inspecting, she informs the couple... of guys... who are shopping for car insurance together... about Progressive's low rates.]
And why is Progressive making me think about these confusing things during a commercial for car insurance? Doesn't that mean it fails at its number one priority, which is to sell me car insurance? Or does the fact that I'm still thinking about it days later mean that it has successfully burrowed its way into my skull? SEE HOW YOUR CONFUSING COMMERCIAL MAKES ME END EVERY SENTENCE WITH A QUESTION MARK??
You know what really grinds my gears? When a television show I'm watching goes to commercial, and all of a sudden IT SOUNDS LIKE THE VOLUME HAS BEEN TURNED UP FIVE NOTCHES AND THE ANNOUNCER IS SCREAMING AT ME ABOUT THE NEW HYUNDAI ASSURANCE PLAN. What the fuck, television? Haven't you been around for, like, 70 years now? Work this shit out! I'm looking at you, FOX, because you. are. the. worst. turn. it. the. fuck. down.
Do you think that having the volume louder on the commercials is going to make me think, "Hey, this is really loud, I should go buy this product because their commercials ARE THE LOUDEST!!!!" No, here's what it actually does: "I'm so goddamn lazy, I'd rather sit here and watch these commercials than lean forward to pick up the remote off the coffee table to fast forward through them, but, shit, if its gonna be all loud, and I need to lean forward for the sound remote, I might as well grab the cable remote and zip through this shit."
I'm the only person still watching commercials in the entire world, and you just ruined it. CONGRATULATIONS. ENJOY THE DEMISE OF YOUR INDUSTRY, BROADCAST TELEVISION.
1. Does the message contained within these commercial - that your pubic hair is an out of control lawn that must be meticulously manicured with a special razor - actually resonate?
2. No, seriously, how close are you to purchasing one of these to begin your new career as a topiarist?
3. Circles? Hearts? Really? Who? Where?
I came home the other day and my LadyFriend was agog with the news of the first of these two commercials, having seen one air during an episode of Ellen. "I can't believe that aired!" she exclaimed, not in a tone to indicate she was necessarily opposed, but rather out of sheer shock. Then we found the second commercial online, and she laughed hysterically the entire time.
As a man, I am terribly confused. I have always imagined that societal expectations about hairlessness were a tolerated irritation amongst women, particularly in private. But according to this commercial, women have not only embraced what amounts essentially to hairlessness, but they do so with their friends, and in neat shapes too! Seriously.
HBO offers a channel called Comedy Plex, which is fine in the evenings, but trots out a never-ending collection of early 1980's comics during the day, all of whom have the following to say, "Men are like this, but women are like this!" Alternately, you get a comedian who mixes it up with, "Women are like this, but men are like this!" Somehow, this always gets guffaws, as the audience collectively acknowledges, "It's so true! We are different." I have spent my life staring blankly at the television, wondering who any of those people are.
Now, I'm 28 with two kids, and as a result of these commercials, I've now become a member of those audiences. Somebody shoot me before I start finding any of Judy Tenuta's work enjoyable.
GIVE ME BACK THAT FILET OF FISH! GIVE ME THAT FISH! (oooooooh!!!)
What exactly is your plan, singing robot novelty fish? If you take the fish from the bearded redneck he is just going to go purchase another one, and another one of your fish friends will die in vain. You robots are all the same: the Cylon's plan made no sense, and your plan makes no sense.
The spot: Kevin Garnett, Keri Walsh and Misty May, Usain Bolt, Derek Jeter, some gymnast, and some NASCAR driver are in a full-on Monty Python and the Holy Grail parody, complete with music, coconuts, and faux-Gilliam animation. They are knights questing for the Holy G, with Kevin Garnett as their king. On their quest, the encounter a series of challenges. Kareem Abdul-Jabar as a goat-wizard. Guards at a castle deny them access and disparage their heritage in humorously incongruous fashion. Jabbawockeez-monks engage them in a dance-off. They battle a fire-beathing poodle named Game 7. There is swearing.
Okay, this is funny. I'm enough of a nerd to get the references to Monty Python, but not so much of a nerd that I think this is "blasphemous" (got how I hate those nerds). I laughed at Kevin Garnett and his gold Kanye glasses. I laughed at Usain Bolt (who I totally scooped G on, by the way) and his pet, Ego. I laughed quite a bit at the dance-off.
But how to reconcile this with the previous series of ads that introduced Gatorade's new brand identity, G? Excuse me if I'm reaching, but does the use of Lil Wayne, the Jabbawockeez, and the letter G (as in, WHAT UP G) as it's new brand indicate to anybody that they might be trying to hit a more urban market with their product? Is that fair to say?
So how do you go from targetting an urban marketing to targetting British comedy nerds? In a completely insane 9-minute internet ad, no less? (Heavily edited versions of this ad can be seen on TV). I mean, could you be targeting two more disparate audiences than these in what appears to be the same ad campaign? Both campaigns feature many of the same athletes (Garnett, Jeter, May and Walsh, Bolt, Jabbawockeez), so it seems like there is supposed to be some sort of connection.
I like the ad, I really do. But nonetheless, we must all acknowledge: G now stands for "Gone completely insane."
The spot: A young man steps out of his front door, a red Dell laptop tucked under his arm. As he makes his way down the street, he is met with continually escalating shows of affection: two children smile and point from a balcony. A crossing guard pats him affectionately on the rear. A busload of passengers lean and gawk. He gets thumbs up from two men on matching red scooters. He is patted on the shoulders by passersby. Cars honk their horns and flash their lights as he crosses the street. A crowd rushes him, and a beautiful woman kisses him on the mouth. He finally reaches his destination at a coffeehouse. He flips open is laptop. We see the product(RED) logo as its background. He gives a self-satisfied smirk. Cut to bold text on a red background: BUY DELL. GO (RED). SAVE LIVES.
(Disclaimer: I understand that I will break no new ground on this blog by stating that we live in an especially self-centered age. I will also acknowledge the subtle hypocrisy of making this statement on a blog, which is the ultimate symbol of the self-absorption that has defined the last 10 years.)
What is it that bothers me so much about this ad? Is it the gratingly hip soundtrack? The attempt to make a PC appear cool? The fact that the protagonist seems like a total douche? Yes, yes, and yes. But its also more than that. I saw this ad maybe a half-dozen times before I figured it out: why doesn't the douche have a laptop bag?
Who carries a laptop around without a bag? Aren't you afraid it might get stolen, or you might drop it, douche? Don't you need a power cord?
No, of course you don't. Because if you put your laptop in a bag, then we all wouldn't be able to see that you have a (RED) laptop, which means that you spent extra money to give to a charity, so we couldn't see what a GREAT PERSON you are with your (RED) laptop.
And isn't that the point of this whole product(RED) charity? I mean, what's the point of giving to charity unless you can show it off with some ostentatiously colored techno-gadgets. (RED) laptops! (RED) cell phones! (RED) iPods!
Because why should charity be about, like, the charity, and all the people it might help, amirite? Charity is really about you, and what a great person you are.
This fact did not escape the advertisers, by the way. Pay close attention to the young man smirking as he opens his laptop and sees the product(RED) logo. He smirks thinking about what a great, awesome guy he is. He is so pleased with himself. In the Age of Narcissism, there is no better angle for a product to have.
The spot: An attractive woman waits in a restaurant. Her date arrives, but before she can say a word, he places his hands against her lips - he is on the phone. A montage of bad date cliches follows: he blows his nose, picks his teeth, checks out other women, sends texts from his phone, and gestures that eating dessert will make his date fat. Over this sequence, the narrator says, "Have you ever found yourself on a really bad blind date? Now imagine that date lasting the rest of your life?" The woman stares at her date/husband as he gets up from the table and says, "I have to go. Happy anniversary, honey." The logo comes up on the screen for AshleyMadison.com. "Isn't it time for AshleyMadison.com?" the narrator asks, and the screen displays the slogan: When Divorce Isn't An Option. Cut back to the woman, who is now eying another young man at the restaurant, and smiling seductively at him.
Originally schedule to air during the Super Bowl, the NFL and NBC both rejected this ad for predictable reasons. However, it was still aired in certain markets by the local affiliates, and Houston was one of those. When it was rejected nationally, AshleyMadison.com decided to focus marketing efforts in those areas where they had seen the best growth, and it turns out that the top three cities were all in Texas: Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. This set of facts tells us two interesting things:
As a result of the poor economy, we've started to see prime time ad space opening up to commercials that would normally only air during daytime television. With AshleyMadison.com and Cash4Gold.com, some of that was even able to leak into the premiere advertising event in the world.
Texas is, apparently, the biggest market for an infidelity website. A theory: the high level of church participation in the South hits the moral depravity of the big cities, causing a sort of infidelity storm front. People want to appear to be committed to their families (so no divorcing) but are also lured to the dark side by the anything goes big-city atmosphere. As a result, its raining affairs!
Now, about the ad itself. A very fine line needed to be walked here: in order for the ad to be successful, the prospective client needed to be able to sympathize with the woman's situation. If the man was actually abusive, then the viewer would be turned off (just leave him!) If he wasn't a big enough jerk, the viewer would sympathize with him (he's not such a bad guy!) But to really sell it, they needed some extra justification.
He leaves at the end. Where is he going? Perhaps... to have an affair? And did you see the restaurant they were at, and how nicely everyone was dressed? Clearly the guy has some money.
So we've constructed a scenario where a great many women would be able to sympathize: the man is a jerk, and he's probably cheating on her... but he's got money, so instead of divorcing him, just sit on the busboy's face. The ad bangs this home at the end: When Divorce Isn't An Option.
Whatever you think of the morality of the company, give the ad props for knowing who their target audience is.
Before we begin, I'd like to welcome you back home after your time
behind enemy lines at We Know Porno. Now, it is time to have a chat
with somebody who REALLY knows advertising: me.
There are lots
of reasons why somebody might watch the Super Bowl. Perhaps you enjoy
the athleticism, the brutality, the competition, the participation in a
culture-wide event, or maybe your husband forces you to. In any case,
I think its safe to assume that watching the Super Bowl is a respite
from the worries of every day life. At least, it is supposed to be.
Somebody forgot to tell the advertisers that.
Here is my rundown of ads which, to varying degrees, tapped into
the realities our particular economic climate (I believe the economic
thermostat right now is set to "scared shitless"):
calls a meeting to discuss ways in which they might cut costs. When an
intrepid employee suggests that they might save some green by not
purchasing Bud Light for every meeting, he is promptly thrown out of a
News of the bad economy has even reached our babies! They think we
should continue investing. This is why I don't take investment advice
from babies (unless, of course, they are Jewish).
Have you been dying to buy that new Hyundai, but you're afraid that you
might lose your job and not be able to make the payments? Well, Hyundai
has got you covered: if you lose your income in the next year, just
bring it back. Or keep it and live in it, whichev!
Apparently times are also bad in outer space - don't leave your moon
hires Carlos Boozer to show us how to go online and buy gaudy gold
jewelry for low low prices, which we can then turn around and sell on
Cash4Gold.com. This is the most confusing ad of the night: why is
Carlos Boozer showing children how to buy jewelry online? Where are
there parents? Why does he leave his Olympic gold medal lying around?
What is going on here??
There were a couple of ads that caught my eye that did not relate to the economy:
The mysterious meaning of G is finally revealed! (Or did you plan on blogging about this... somewhere else?!)
And, finally, this macho truck ad insists on repeated use of the
word "tranny". In an unrelated story, some words have two meanings.
So what of it, the Suze? Notice any trends? Or did any specific ads
do it for you (other than the Jason Statham one, obviously - he can
Transport me anytime, if you know what I mean*).
*I mean I'll have gay sex with him.
The Suze's take
This Super Bowl certainly brought us super bad commercial. And no,
I don't mean bad in a good way. I was less than unimpressed by 95% of
them. So I guess I'll be talking about the best of the worst here.
on the list was what I assumed to be a domestic violence commercial.
Can you guess which one I'm talking about? "Oh no. Look at the mug on
you. Diane you're a train wreck. That's why he only sent you a box of
flowers. Go home to your romance novel and your fat smelly cat...."
That's right gents and skirts, it was an ad for Teleflora.
Who the fuck cares if you get flowers from a box or in a vase? Really!?
I thought the the flower was going to take a god damn bat out and start
beating the poor woman to death, then apologize and tell her
"You make me do these things to you..." And as hilarious as we all think
domestic violence advertising is, this commerical just didn't make the
Second worst commercial of the night was Pepsi's MacGruber ad.
Guess what Pepsi? Not only does your new logo suck donkey balls, your inability to effectively market yourself makes you Coke's dirty
whore. (And I can only hope that Coke jizzes it's sweet carbonated
nectar all over your ugly face!) But seriously--use of a non-funny SNL
skit as the basis of your non-funny commerical and topping it off with the
aging Richard Dean Anderson equals BOMB!
Last on the list, I didn't LMAO with this NBC commercial.
Mainly because they listed 30 Rock as being funny. And, as we all
know... Well, I don't have to say it. Secondly, the intestinal and
bowel related problems associated with laughing one's ass off is pretty
disturbing to even think about. As least when they were done
reattaching the ass, they could wipe it with the
millions of dollars they used to buy that slot.
On that note, advertisers of the the Super Bowl, you get a wag of my finger.
Houston Mayor Bill White is so white, his name is actually White. So does somebody want to tell me who thought it would be a good idea to make him the cream in an Obama/MLK Oreo?
Sorry about the horrible image quality but it was the best one I could find. I couldn't use the one from the newspaper in the office because I spit my coffee out all over it when I saw this. In case you can't read it, the caption above the world's most awkward Mt. Rushmore is "The Dream, The Hope, The Change."
It gets better. This ad was run in a local African-American newspaper, The Defender. The ad was also designed by staff at The Defender. The intent of the ad is to promote Mayor White and his run for the US Senate.
From what I have learned in my short time in Houston, Mayor White is actually a good guy. He's also a Democrat running for a Senate seat in Texas, so I understand he's going to need the African American community to come out and vote for him. But seriously, guy: you might as well have done this ad in blackface.
I woke up and found you creepin' [tip-toe tip-toe] Oh girl I know your secret [you been dippin on me] Got them McNuggets lovin [you went to McDonalds] It just ain't fair Why can't you Share your love with me
Nice song. But you're still not getting any of my crispy, juicy McNuggets.
Girl you got a ten piece please don't be stin-jaaayyyyyyyyyy
cuckold (n.) - A married man with an unfaithful wife. cluck (n.) - The characteristic sound made by a hen (i.e. female chicken) when brooding or calling its chicks.
cluckold (n.) - A married man whose wife sneaks out on him to get some Chicken McNuggets and won't give him any.
She leaves in the middle of the night, in a rainstorm, without telling you where she is going. Obviously you are concerned: I can see it in your deep, soulful eyes. Then she gets back, and she's got McDonald's. But did she get you any? No. Did she even ask if you wanted any McNuggets? Obviously not, because it seems like you really, really want some. But if she wasn't going to share, she at least could have eaten at the restaurant, or in the car. She did not have to eat them in front of you, and not let you have any. She did that because she is exerting her dominance over you. You are being cluckolded.
If I can offer a little unsolicited advice? Dump. That. Bitch.
The spot: Christmas morning. A girl in a nightgown stands in her posh living room next to a pony with a bright red ribbon on it. The scene is painted in a slight sepia tone, giving you the impression of the past. The girl addresses the camera: "This is Dolly! Don't you remember how excited you were? Yelling so loud the neighbors came over?" Cut to the front door, where the neighbors enter, along with their own little girl. "Remember how jealous Ann Marie was?" the little girl asks with a sly grin on her face, as the neighbor girl drops her own pony doll in disbelief. Closeup of little girl's face: "Dolly was the bestest present ever. Nothing could ever be more..." match cut to face of grownup woman. "...Perfect." She completes the thought, now standing in front of a Lexus sedan with a large ribbon on it. The voice-over jumps in to tell us that we should make this a "December to Remember" by leasing the new Lexus RS-350 for only $399 a month.
The National Bureau of Economic Research released their findings yesterday that the United States economy is in a recession, and has been for the last 12 months. This comes as a shock to nobody who has paid attention to the news: the collapse of every major investment bank on Wall Street, the tightening of credit markets, the precipitous drop in the stock market, and the subsequent layoffs and cutbacks in the workforce have all been making daily headlines for the second half of 2008. The uncertainty in the job market, combined with the unavailability of credit, is predicted to have a devastating effect on the Christmas shopping season.
This time of year typically brings sales and financing deals at all retailers to entice buyers, but there is a desperation in the air that is new. On Black Friday, Jdimytai Damour, an employee at a Wal-Mart on Long Island, was killed when a throng of shoppers waiting in the parket lot shoved in the doors and trampled him to death on their way to discount merchendise. Two other people died in a gunfight in a Toys R Us store in Southern California.
But you know what? FUCK ALL YALL, BECAUSE I AM GETTING A LEXUS. Hey, let's invite the family of that WalMart employee over to my house so I can rub it in their face, just like I rubbed it in the face of that little girl when I got that pony. Remember that? When I got a motherfucking pony for Christmas? I was all like, "daddy, can I have a pony?" and he was all like, "of course you can, sweetheart, cause I want to make sure that you grow up to be a spoiled horrible woman. My dream is that, in a time when people will step on a brother to save $20 on a DVD player, you will have a husband who will drop 40 large on a car without even consulting you. Because you just have so much goddamn money, 40 large on a car is like, WHATEVS, baby."
Lexus holds a "December to Remember" sales event every year, and every year I've thought to myself, "Jesus Christ, are there really people in the world who buy each other luxury cars as presents?" But this ad finally explains it to me. I get it now. If you lived in a huge house with a stone fireplace and celebrated Christmas morning with a pony, then you get a Lexus. Otherwise, you have to trample immigrants to death on the way to the discount racks on Black Friday.
The spot: Jerry Seinfeld is walking through the mall, eating a churro. As he passes a discount shoe store, he sees billionaire software developer Bill Gates inside trying on shoes. Seemingly confused why billionaire software developer Bill Gates is purchasing discount shoes, he goes inside to investigate. Cut to interior of the store. "Jerry Seinfeld?" billionaire software developer Bill Gates inquires. "Churro?" comes the reply, as Jerry no longer seems interested in why billionaire software developer Bill Gates is purchasing discount shoes. Instead, he sets about re-sizing and stretching Bill's shoes, and making... observations. This banter goes on for 60 seconds. Eventually they leave together, at which point Jerry Seinfeld asks some questions about future Microsoft development projects, including whether or not computers will be made to be soft and chewy like cakes so that they can be consumed while working. We then get a set of title cards over some vaguely circus-inspired music:
"The Future." "Delicious."
The ad closes on the Microsoft logo.
In college football, large football-factory schools like Ohio State will often schedule games against vastly inferior opponents to help them pad their record and standings in national polls. During these games, the football factory school will attempt to score as many points as possible. It is not unheard of to see a school up by 30-40 points in the second half and still throwing the ball deep, frantically trying to run up the score to make the win more impressive in the eyes of national poll voters.
(What does this have to do with this commercial? Simmer down, I'm getting there.)
During their undefeated 2007 regular season, the New England Patriots adopted this approach while playing other NFL teams. Up with a comfortable margin, the Patriots would continue trying to score as much as possible rather than adopt a conservative, run-out-the-clock approach. ESPN.com writer and Patriots fan Bill Simmons calls these late scores "Eff-You Touchdowns." The point of scoring was no longer to improve their standing, but rather to rub their superiority into the faces of their opponents. They were the unstoppable juggernaut.
Well, after watching the above ad, I think that I have seen the world's first Eff-You TV Commercial.
What other explanation is there? The ad is inexplicable. Watching it for the first time, I had no idea what they wanted to sell me. In fact, the word Microsoft is not said until 70 seconds into the 90 second spot.
Is the ad supposed to be humorous? Then why hire Jerry Seinfeld? He's hasn't been funny in years. There was exactly one unfunny episode of 30 Rock ever made, and it was the one he guest starred in. He doesn't make jokes, he is a joke. And he doesn't exactly get back on track with this ad. I chuckled mildly once. ("Is this your toe?" "No." "Then what is it?" "Leather.")
And even when they do get around to talking about Microsoft, they don't actually talk about real products or features. Instead, it's computers that are soft and spongy like cake and billionaire software developer Bill Gates shaking his rump.
Now, compare this ad to the ubiquitous I'm a Mac, I'm a PC campaign that Apple has been running since 2006. In the place of unfunny ex-comedian Jerry Seinfeld is funny comedian and hobo expert John Hodgman. The ads are funny, concise, and iconic. And, most importantly: the ads actually talk about Apple products and services! No foolishness about sponge cake computers. Instead we hear about the genius bar, or time machine, or how easy it is to switch from PC to Mac, and on and on.
Three years in, Apple has made some headway. Since 2006, Apple has jumped from a market share of 6% to 14% and Windows Vista is such a dud that Microsoft has to trick people into even trying it. Microsoft would seem to be on the decline.
That is until you remember that, despite these gains by Apple, Microsoft is still the dominant force in PC market. And that's what this ad is all about. It is a message to Apple.
"Make all the cute little ads you want. We're still the juggernaut. We're still the champs. We don't need a great ad campaign to get our products or our name out there. In fact, watch this: we're going to launch a completely confounding ad campaign starring our awkward founder and possibly the least funny man in show business today. It won't matter. Eff you, Apple."
The spot: Priceline spokesman William Shatner answers a blue phone out of a box held by a man in a lab coat. He is strapped to a jetpack. "Some ladies need a weekend getaway? I'm on it." He is introduced, via snappy jingle, as the Priceline Negotiator as he jetpacks away. Jetpack.
Cut to three women outside at some sort of cafe, huddled around a laptop. They are well dressed, wearing pearls, and daintily enjoying their... let's call it brunch.
William Shatner wheels around the corner pushing a very large bassinet. The ladies (they are repeatedly referred to as ladies) immediately begin oohing and aahing at the triplets: Robbie, Robbie, and Little Billy. While they are distracted, William Shatner releases a highly-trained mongoose, who skillfully calls up Priceline.com and finds the best price on the airfare the ladies were after.
Their mission accomplished, William Shatner tells the ladies to "enjoy your trip, ladies." While the ladies are astonished at how cheap the airfare is on Priceline, but are indifferent to the fact that somebody was using their computer while they were not looking, William Shatner and his highly-trained mongoose congratulate each other on a job well done.
So, to recap:
- Women are to be referred to as "ladies" at all times, so long as they are wearing blouses and pearls. - Babies cause women to immediately drop what they are doing and ooh and aah over them, until the babies are forcibly removed from their presence. - Women are less skilled at navigating through the series of tubes that compose the internet than an (albeit highly-trained) mongoose. - Women think that somebody using their laptop while they were not looking, and therefore having access some of their personal information, is not cause for alarm.
The radio version of this ad goes something like this:
"Hey, ladies! Once your husband finishes driving you around since you do not have the skills necessary to operate an automobile, ask him to show you Priceline.com, where you can find the best deals on travel. You ladies like travel, don't you?"
Here are some other versions of this ad that were rejected for being just slightly too offensive:
- A group of three nebbishy, Woody Allen-looking Jews sit around a laptop, complaining about the cost of airfare and the humidity. William Shatner shows up and scatters some loose change onto the ground. While the Jews hurriedly collect each precious cent, his trained mongoose navigates their computer to Priceline.com for great airfare back to Israel.
- A group of five black men, one of them holding a basketball, huddle around a laptop looking for flights to the Million Man March. William Shatner shows up with a bucket of fried chicken.
- 3 Mexican day laborers are looking for flights to visit their families. William Shatner arrives in a pickup truck and brings them back to his house to do yardwork. He does not assist them in finding cheap airfare.
The spot: Two businessmen pedal up a hill on a gray morning. Another sits alone on a bus. A woman walks down a street past a man strapping on his helmet as he prepares to ride his Vespa-style scooter. A worker at a gas station is changing the price for petrol to 8.75 Euros. Now, a BMW powers up the street past the cyclists, bus rider, pedestrian, and scooter driver. All turn their heads to watch it pass. In voice-over we are told, "In Europe, high gas prices are nothing new." It then goes on to tell us that BMW offers four models with a fuel economy of 28 MPG or higher. The BMW then pulls into the parking lot for the Munich BMW Research and Innovation Center.
I've previously taken issue with a pair of insurancecompanies mocking the efforts of bike commuters in the face of high gas prices. BMW has taken this line of reasoning to its logical extreme.
Bike commuters? Pathetic. Bus riders? Losers. Pedestrians? Lame. And look at this fag on his Vespa! He's even wearing a helmet!
See, BMW understands the dangers of high gas prices. They really do. The danger is people will stop driving cars. Instead, they'll walk, or take mass transportation, or ride a bike. Or maybe they will drive a car, but it'll be a highly efficient scooter, or plug-in hybrid instead. It sure as shit won't be some gas-guzzling sports car.
28 miles per gallon is nice (it's better than I get in my car), but it doesn't come close to the 50 MPG per person on a city bus, or 70 MPG on a scooter, or the, uh, complete lack of fuel consumption walking or biking.
So why show these modes of transportation at all? Why bring up all these more fuel-efficient modes of travel in a commercial that purports to be all about fuel efficiency? Because, obviously, it isn't REALLY about the fuel efficiency. It's that these people not in cars are pathetic. Those guys in suits and ties on bikes look silly. The guy on the bus looks like he's one more bus ride from hanging himself. And the guy on the scooter looks like a douche, with his bright white scooter standing out from the background.
This ad is still all about appealing to the car-centric American buyer.
This is a joke, right? This looks like a Saturday Night Live skit making fun of an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
This is actual dialogue from the TV spot they've been playing during the NBA playoffs:
News anchor: "There appears to be an event happening." Woman on bench: "Did you hear that?" Mark Wahlberg in voice-over: "What's going on?"
There appears to be an event happening? Aren't you supposed to tell me what your movie is about?
"So, what do you want to do tonight?" "Oh, how about that new Shyamalan movie? An event happens." "An event? Like what? Aliens attack? War breaks out? Creatures from another dimension?" "Uh... Mark Wahlberg is in it!"
Well, if you won't tell me what your movie is about, I'll just make up my own movie. Here are some possible plot synopses:
Mark Wahlberg is a dead superhero alien who lives in the forest for some reason.
There appears that something is happening, but, in a dramatic twist, nothing happens.
Instead of going to see the new M. Night Shyamalan movie, everyone stays home and watches classic Twilight Zone episodes.
People start jumping off of buildings rather than be forced to watch Lady in the Water.
New York is attacked by the furious re-animated corpse of Alfred Hitchcock.
As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I am sorry the advertisement
offended anyone. Our intention with this particular ad was to recognize
and empathize with the everyday challenge of high gas prices, and
suggest that State Farm could help by providing lower auto insurance
rates than a person may be receiving from their current provider.
During the past few days, I discussed the perception of this
advertisement with others at State Farm, and we decided the right thing
to do would be to discontinue it. We will remove this ad as quickly as
possible from the current rotation schedule.
But not to worry, insurance companies! As long as one of you keeps stepping up to fill the void with an ad that depicts bike commuting as horrible, shameful, and humiliating, one of you will always have a place on my enemies list. State Farm is stepping down, but Farmers Insurance is stepping up. Behold!
The spot: a woman stands in her living room while her husband relaxes on the couch. In voiceover, she explains how something doesn't feel right. A home improvement montage follows: purchasing nicknacks, a new carpet, painting the walls, all paid for with her Citi card. Her husband can be glimpsed on the couch throughout, relaxing or working on his computer while she redecorates. Finally, she realizes: "It wasn't the room, so I used the cash I got back to redecorate my husband." We watch as she purchases new clothes and he models his new khaki pants, shirt and sweater combo. Finally satisfied, she sits on the couch with her husband after he pauses to relocate one of the new nicknacks on the coffeetable.
I imagine this ad being written by the cast of Mad Men, sitting around their luxuriously appointed offices, smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey at 11 o'clock in the morning.
"So, gentlemen, we've got this new credit card account. They say they want to target this one at the dames. Let's brainstorm: what is it women like to do?"
"Shopping!" "Redecorating!" "Spending their husbands' money!"
[laughter fills the room]
"Being controlling!" "Dressing up and then just sitting around the house!"
I'm not sure how else to explain how one advertisement was able to fit so many horrible female stereotypes into a single spot. They probably held off filming until the actress was menstruating just to make sure they got the attitude right.
According to a press release by Citi, this spot, called "Redecorate", is part of a new ad campaign to promote people using their Citi Cards "to enjoy new experiences and create stories of their lives". If you are a woman, the story of your life is that you are a shallow, henpecking shrew who can't stand the sight of her husband relaxing at home in a sweatshirt and jeans.
Jesus Christ, lady, the guy obviously has to work hard to sustain your chronic redecorating habit, would you please let him relax on the weekends? Why does he need to be dressed like he's going to a J. Crew catalog shoot? The ad tries to subvert the controlling aspect of her behavior by showing him relocating a box on the table, as if to say, "See? He wants to take part in the redecorating, too." I choose to think he was going to use that box to bash her face in, but reconsidered at the last moment. It's open to interpretation.
The spot: medium shot of a man, waist up, wearing a suit and tie, lamenting the price of gas. "That place where gas prices couldn't go any higher meets gas prices just went higher? I'm there." Cut to a wide shot revealing the man standing next to a bicycle, wearing bicycle shorts below his suit and shirt. "That place where four wheels meets two wheels? I'm there." A narrator talks about how State Farm's low prices can help save you money while the cyclist unlocks his bike. The spot ends when a woman walks past in the background and says, "Nice pants, Jim."
State Farm has this new series of commercials called "Intersections." There's one with the young guy getting married, but he's wearing Converse sneakers with his suit, so you know he's a hip cool youth. There's another one where a guy sits in his super-cool loft-style apartment in the city, playing with his baby. In other words, a slightly obnoxious but altogether harmless ad campaign about positioning State Farm as the insurance company for all you hipsters out there. Harmless, until this ad.
Let me start by saying I am a bike commuter. During the spring, summer, and fall, I do 11 miles roundtrip 3-5 times a week. Apparently State Farm thinks I should be mocked and ridiculed for this. Wow, did this ad piss me off. I'm sorry, but so what if rising gas prices has resulted in this guy having to ride his bike to work? Good! GREAT! What is the problem, State Farm? Are we supposed to feel bad for this guy because he can't afford to drive his Hummer to work anymore? If he lives close enough to ride his bike to work, then he should already be biking to work! And who told him to ride in bicycle shorts and a suit jacket? If he wants to look like a fool that's his problem. Oh, and then! And then! That woman walks past and says "Nice shorts!" You are right, horrible woman, he should be ridiculed for finding a way to cope with high energy prices. Lets just annex Iraq and start drilling in the Alaskan wildlife refuge until our problems go away.
Okay...I'm going to take a deep breath, regain my composure. Now, how about a closer look at what exactly is wrong with this, without the hysterics. I am of the opinion that driving a gasoline-powered car is incredibly cheap. Lets do some math.
According to my bike odometer, I've put approximately 2000 miles on it since I started commuting regularly two summers ago. At 20 miles per gallon, I've saved 100 gallons of gas, at an average of $3 per gallon, or $300. In other words, I have not yet offset the initial investment I made in the bicycle (not to mention my helmet, scalp cap to keep my head warm on cold mornings, my lights to make me more visible at night, the pack to carry my clothes...
So why do it? Even at these prices, there is not a whole lot of economic incentive. Also, I have purchase carbon offsets for my car, so there isn't even much environmental incentive for me to do it. Basically, I do it because I think it is a way for me to set a positive example. If my bike commuting gets others to follow suit, then I feel that it is worth the effort (for the record, I have gotten one other employee at my office to start bike commuting).
And then along comes State Farm, re-enforcing all these horrible notions about bike commuting. You have to wear tight shorts (I don't, by the way). Others will mock you. Its all so very...European. You should do whatever it takes to save money so that you can keep driving that car around. What is next, Hefty trash bags making a commercial about how recycling is for pussies? Is this the way everyone thinks? The fact is, this ad is a reflection of the common perception of commuting on a bike. Rather than help change this view, State Farm reinforces it to sell some insurance policies on the cars that you should keep driving, as is right as an American.