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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Five Commercials That Really Bug Me

I recently lost something very dear to me. No, I'm not talking about my 401(k). I'm referring to my DVR. Having recently moved, and looking for a way to cut corners, I took up my apartment complex's offer of free, limited cable. It saves me money, but has really been piling on the frustrations — my ability to gallop past grating and degrading commercials chief among them.

Maybe it's just because I haven't had to watch them in so long, but have commercials somehow gotten worse? If so, I realize I was part of the reason why: Advertisers desperate for viewers have upped the shock value of their 30-second spots, compelling people to slow down the DVR fast-forward function and pay attention.

But risque doesn't always equal good. Offbeat attempts at humor aren't always funny. And the following five ads prove it.

Alltell Wireless, "Lemonade Stand": I don't know anyone who uses Alltell Wireless. I don't think I've ever seen an Alltell Wireless store, or so much as a kiosk. What I'm saying is, I don't think a company called Alltell Wireless actually exists. But their commercials sure do, and they annoy me to no end. Thing is, every time I think about one of these screechingly unfunny ads — which feature hip metrosexual Alltell salesman Chad and four of his bumbling, dorky competitors — I can never recall the name of the company it's advertising. I actually had to Google "Chad phone ding dong" to help me remember.

The "ding dong" part comes from this particular ad, the umpteenth spot featuring these lunkhead phone pushers who make me want to go back in time and punch Alexander Graham Bell in the face. The humor relies almost solely on silly haircuts and making that guy who looks and sounds like Herbert from "Moonlighting" shout "You're still a ding dong!" at our hero. I've had to sit through this moronic ad so many times, that if I had an Alltell phone I would slam it repeatedly against my head to make the pain stop.

M&Ms, "Green M&M": Yeah, I get it. Green M&M's are supposed to be an aphrodisiac, right? So why not make an anthropomorphized green M&M spokeswoman and put her through a sexy photo shoot?

Because it's disturbing and wrong, that's why not. Seeing a pouty-lipped, high-heeled M&M go through a variety of poses that wouldn't be out of place in a porn video doesn't make me want to eat M&Ms — it makes me want to throw up every M&M I've ever eaten. And knowing that the voice of Green is actress Cree Summer, who also did the voices of Penny on "Inspector Gadget" and Elmyra on "Tiny Toon Adventures," only increases the ick factor.

Charmin, "Bears Playing Football": This commercial reminds me of the ancient proverb, "If a bear wipes his butt in the forest, and no one's around to see it, does the toilet tissue leave behind sticky little flecks of paper?" The answer, if the psychopaths behind this horrifying series of animated Charmin ads are to be believed, is a big hairy yes. Nevermind for a second that these bears are actually using toilet tissue, or that we have to see the bits of paper stuck to his ass. But why oh why, once the little bear gets his heiney fleck-free, does it have to sparkle!?

Axe Bodyspray, "Chocolate Man": Let's just get something out of the way right now: Axe body spray does not, has never, will never help scrawny little wimps attract the ladyfolk by way of their olfactory nerves. No matter how many demeaning, chauvinistic commercials those mad men throw at us featuring hot chicks hurling themselves at some spritzed schlub, it just ain't gonna happen that way in real life. Can we all just agree on that and move on?

But blatantly false advertising is not why this ad is on my list. I just think the chocolate golem dude is freakin' creepy looking.

Enzyte, "Bob": Have you met Bob? Middle-aged guy, brown hair, always smiling? Has a party in his pants and everyone's invited? Yep, that's Bob — the silent spokesman for Enzyte, the "natural male enhancement" drug. Unlike the knowingly absurd claims of the Axe ads, the jury's still out on the effectiveness of Enzyte. But somebody (and I'm guessing a very insecure somebody) must keep buying this crap, because they keep making these disturbing ads.

Again, it's not the product that bugs me. If a guy wants to jumbo-size his joystick, that's up to him. It's all the knowing wordplay and double entendres, the oh-aren't-we-clever winks and nudges and playfully innocent tone. It's not funny. It's not edgy. It's lame. Want to know the real reason Bob, played with zombie-like monotony by actor John Larson, is smiling? Because as long as poor suckers keep trying to double their dingies, he's got steady work.

Got a few of your own that bug you? Let's hear 'em.

Adam Reinhard,



I really hate those drinkability commercials by Bud Light.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 19, 2008 at 12:59 PM  


Also the ASPCA ad with Sarah McLachlan with all the abused dogs and cats, but only because it makes me uncontrollably sob.

You should do another post about annoying ad jingles: Subway's "Five Dollar Footlong" comes to mind. Also Toyota's use of "Saved by Zero" makes me want to return my Toyota to the dealer for a refund.


By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At November 19, 2008 at 3:30 PM  


By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 20, 2008 at 12:47 PM  

How 'bout that new Allstate commercial where they try to make you sympathize with the rich white kid who commits vehicular manslaughter. "You mean they can collect on our stocks and his college fund?!?!"

By Blogger Ms. Quarter, At November 24, 2008 at 9:03 AM  

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