by Libby Sternberg
I like to be entertained. So, even if you’re selling something, I’ll listen if your pitch is funny, compelling, artistic, worth spending 30 or 60 seconds on. That said, I get a bit annoyed at TV ads that are richly entertaining yet don’t make their product or service memorable in a good way. It seems like such a waste of money. And since advertising costs get passed along to the consumer, I like to know that what I’m buying was produced at a company where smarts and quality go hand in hand.
I’m a sucker for the e-Trade baby ads and am particularly partial to this one, with its punch line, “That’s it, I’m running away. No, no, you can’t come!” Always makes me smile:
While this is among my favorites lately, I have my share of abominables, ads that trigger a race to the mute or channel switcher buttons. One is the Liberty Mutual Insurance spots with their Paul Giamatti narration about the foibles of “humans.” Foibles such as cutting off tree branches that crush your neighbor’s car, or driving into your garage, forgetting you have bikes on top of the van, or…you get the picture. The message seems to be that if you’re kinda stupid, Liberty Mutual’s the insurer for you. Maybe they’re a good company. I don’t know. But I do know I don’t want to be paying for stupid. It’s sure to drive up rates, right?
Liberty Mutual seems to have gone through an identity crisis of sorts. Just a year or so ago they seemed to be touting “responsibility,” first with commercials showing good-hearted folks helping each other out in small ways, then with a series of grim spots centered around a family going through tough times, sort of a suburban Joads-meets-insurance-company-here-to-help narrative! Smart move to get away from those befuddling messages, but the latest effort often has both my husband and I shouting at the feckless humans making those dumb mistakes: “Stop, stop! Don’t cut off the tree limb without looking where it will fall, you bleepity-bleep.” Me and hubs–we’re always cracking each other up.
Another bad-messaging ad is the Lays potato chip one where a woman sits in a salon having a manicure and is so tempted by a Lays-chip-eating patron nearby that she snarfs down some chips, off-camera, leaving the oily residue on her just-polished nails. Why, I ask you, would a company want to remind you of the downside of their product–it’s messy and greasy.
Car ads in general perplex me. Maybe it’s a gal thing–I never remember the make of a car being advertised, just that it’s sleek and tough and taking you places. But this ad….well, it’s just so visually gorgeous that I like to watch it; it makes me want to write a story about its protagonists:
So, is this spot the beginning or the end of a story? If it’s the end: He’s a Scarlet Pimpernel-like character whom she first thought was a cad or weakling, and now it’s revealed he’s the dashing good guy, come to whisk her off to safety. If it’s the beginning of the story: He’s a Svengali-like villain taking away the Ice Princess while her Prince readies an army to rescue her just off stage. Works for me. What’s your story for these two mysterious characters?
That’s it for today’s TGIW–Thank God It’s Wednesday–post! Feel free to tell me what TV ads you love or loathe in addition to any narratives that strike your fancy for that Lexus couple!
Libby Sternberg is a novelist. She doesn’t have enough money to place television ads, so buy her books and make her happy!