Category Archives: commercials

Sports and Weather

I understand why people don’t care about sports, I really do. There are lots of particular sports I don’t care much about myself. What I don’t get is this antipathy towards the things that others happen to enjoy. The Super Bowl, which had the highest ratings ever of any US TV show, apparently dethroning the M*A*S*H finale of 1983, is such an example. Don’t want to watch it? Fine. But there’s no reason to suck the joy out of other people’s pleasure.

I was rooting for the New Orleans Saints, and even predicted that they’d win. Some are puzzled about how important the Saints’ victory would be for the city of New Orleans. One pundit sniffed that if the victory would help New Orleans get over Hurricane Katrina, wouldn’t a Jets victory have done the same for New York City after 9/11? Well, no.

Anyone watching the aftermath of the August 2005 devastation will recall that the Superdome, home of the Saints, was at the epicenter of the disaster. Thousands of people lived there for days. The roof collapsed. The team ended up playing its home games elsewhere for a time, including San Antonio, Texas. The refurbishing of the Superdome and the win by the Saints, who had never even GOTTEN to a Super Bowl, let alone won one, was a fitting climax for both the team and the city that embraced each other in a most profound manner.

Of course, the real reason for watching the Super Bowl: the commercials, which you can see here or here. My favorite was the Betty White/Abe Vigoda Snickers commercial. While Betty White has been a regular working actress (the movie The Proposal and the TV show Boston Legal, e.g.), now at the age of 88, there’s been a running gag whether Abe Vigoda, a star on Barney Miller, was even still alive. I also liked the Dave Letterman ad; yes, late night TV rivals Letterman and Jay Leno were actually in the same room at the same time; see this. I liked the Simpsons ad for Coca-Cola; reminds me of an ad with MC Hammer losing all his bling AND the ad with Mean Joe Greene being offered a Coke. I enjoyed the Google ad. I’ve long admitted my thing about chickens, so a couple of Denny’s ads – for a promotion that’s now over – stick in my head.

Whereas I’ve long tired of the E*Trade babies. Even the sweet Clydesdale commercial for Budweiser has become predictable. I can’t imagine wanting to see ANY of the movies advertised. The commercials Casual Friday and I Wear No Pants were so close to each other, I thought they were for the same product; they weren’t. The Tim Tebow ad, with his mother, the reportedly anti-abortion message from Focus on the Family, was mostly, “Is that all there is?” And, most unfortunately, I thought the Census ad was an ineffective use of taxpayer money.

As for the music, Queen Latifah’s America the Beautiful was a bit wobbly and flat in the beginning, but Carrie Underwood’s a capella rendition of The Star Spangled Banner was OK, but the last note was painful. I love the band, The Who’s halftime show seemed off. The harmonies didn’t work, and the medley segues were clunky. But the drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr’s son) was energetic, and they finished strong with Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Meanwhile, it’s been cold in Albany, but all the snow that has been hitting the Delmarva peninsula, Philadelphia (32.3 inches in 2010) and up the coast, repeatedly this winter, has so far missed Albany. Likewise, whatever snow off the Great Lakes may have affected Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, but Albany has been so far immune. Baltimore has been hammered; 41 inches this calendar year through February 8, more than Buffalo (36.1). All my NYC friends have made snarky remarks about Albany winters, but Albany has had only 8.3 inches of snow since January 1, the most 2.4 inches on January 3.

ANOTHER storm’s coming up the coast yesterday and today. Again the mid-Atlantic will get pummeled. What Albany gets will depend on the track of the storm, from an inch or two to six or eight. And it’ll still pale in comparison with what NYC’s going to suffer today; expect massive airline delays and cancellations.
ROG

F is for Falling

Kilgore Falls, MD

My 81-year-old mother fell coming into her house last week. My sister who lives with her says she’s fine, and that’s good news, of course.

Even before hearing that news, I was thinking about the topic. On one hand, the fall is the lifeblood of physical comedy. Watch out for that banana peeeel! The role of the comedian, going back generations, perhaps millennia, was to take a tumble.

One of my all-time favorite TV shows was The Dick van Dyke Show. As you can see here, Dick would either trip over the ottoman, stumble over it, or neatly evade it.

And YouTube is chock full of people taking a tumble.

Conversely, One in three adults 65 and older falls each year in the United States. In 2005, 15,800 people 65 and older died from injuries related to unintentional falls; about 1.8 million people 65 and older were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries from falls, and more than 433,000 of these patients were hospitalized, again in the U.S. And that doesn’t even touch on falls from elevation.

This brings me to LifeCall. From the Wikipedia: The motivation behind the systems is that subscribers, mostly senior citizens, would receive a pendant which, when activated, would put them in immediate contact with a dispatch service, without the need to use a phone or other household device…

So far so good.

In 1989, LifeCall began running commercials which contained a scene wherein an elderly woman, identified by a dispatcher as “Mrs. Fletcher” uses the medical alert pendant after having fallen in the bathroom. After falling Mrs Fletcher speaks the phrase “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” after which the dispatcher informs her that he is sending help.

Taken at its face value, the commercial portrays a dangerous situation for a senior, with perhaps dire consequences…

The “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” ad had the double misfortune of being unintentionally campy and appearing often on cable and daytime television. The fact that the commercial was a dramatization (as clearly stated in the beginning of the commercial) using rather mediocre acting also contributed to the humor. The combination made “I’ve fallen… and I can’t get up!” a recognized, universal punchline that applied to many comedic situations. All of these factors made the ad memorable, ensuring the line’s place in pop culture history.

The commercial’s punchline has also been appropriated by members of faith communities.

My final falling reference (briefly) will be falling in love. One could discuss ad nauseum what that really means. But I’ve had stuck in my head a song by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers called “Falling in Love with Love.”

“Falling in Love with Love is falling for make-believe!
Falling in Love with Love is playing the fool!” Here’s Julie Andrews singing Falling In Love With Love.
Falling Creek, GA

Note: I had a bunch of photos put aside for the post which I CANNOT FIND. Photos taken from government websites.
ROG

Celebrity endorsement QUESTION


I was watching a Boniva ad featuring Sally Field when I realized, “If I were a woman with osteoporosis, I think I’D be taking Boniva because Sally seems so sincere.”
I also recall, many years ago, Andy Griffith’s popular ads for Ritz crackers, which didn’t get me to try the product, but did get me to go around saying, “Mm-MMM. G-o-o-d cracker.”
William Talman, who played DA Hamilton Burger to Raymond Burr’s Perry Mason, appeared in a number of anti-smoking ads, such as this one; as an avid watcher of Perry Mason, this definitely enhanced my anti-smoking position, especially with my father, who smoked a pack or more of Winstons at the time.
The Jerry Seinfeld AmEx ads, such as this one were clever enough, but had no effect on getting the card in my wallet.

My questions for you fine folks:

1. Any celebrity endorsements actually lead you to purchase an item or at least supported your position to do so? Any celebrity endorsements turn you off from a product?

And, unrelated to the topic:

2. Will Sarah Palin’s appearance on Saturday Night Live help her, hurt her or make no difference? I say it helps slightly. She comes off as engaging when reading cue cards.

3. What is your favorite Four Tops song? The great Levi Stubbs, the lead singer, died yesterday. For some reason, 7 Rooms of Gloom came immediately to mind, but appropriately, I suppose it’s I’m in a Different World..
***
Just say no!

. ROG

These messages

I was going to tell you about the presentation I’m doing today. Our organization is changing from using Standard Industrial Classification codes to North American Industrial Classification System. All businesses are given a classification, which helps in data gathering, and NAICS (rhymes with “snakes”) is the most current one. This stuff is actually rather interesting to me. But that’s just me. Others may compare it with watching glaciers melt. So instead I’ll tell you about TV commercials.

I’ve been watching Sex and the City reruns, usually on tape. I don’t have HBO, so, as NBC used to suggest, “They’re new to me.” During every brace of episodes runs this commercial:

VOICEOVER OF COSMO KRAMER, WITH THE WORDS ON THE SCREEN: Who’s gonna turn down a Junior Mint. It’s chocolate. It’s peppermint. It’s delicious!
JERRY SEINFELD (on screen): That’s true.
KRAMER (on screen): It’s VERY refreshing!

I’ve seen this commercial a few dozen times. It never fails to crack me up, as though it were the first time.
What’s WRONG with me?

I never was a big Seinfeld fan. Oh, I liked the early episodes when it really was about nothing. “The Parking Lot” episode comes to mind. But when George worked for the Yankees, or Elaine stressed over her job- not about nothing. But the ad gets to me.

There is a commercial for a nasal spray called Nasonex. If you’ve not seen it, go here. The male bee weirds me out! It’s the eyes. The irony is that the ad is “designed and directed” by Neal Adams, one of the most respected comic book artists, one best known for X-Men and Batman, but who I probably first saw (and liked) on the Avengers (the comic book, not the TV show with Emma Peel). The bee is voiced by Antonio Bandares, who I liked in Shrek 2.

So there it is: crazy about Kramer, crazed by a cartoon bee.

However, the Nasonex commercial isn’t nearly as scary as a Burger King commercial. Someone raises the shade in the house in the morning and there is a person in that eerie Burger King plastic mask. Arrrgh!

Even worse, though is the ad for some Dodge SUV. A woman, with a girl in the back seat, stops and talks to a guy who reminds me of Clint Eastwood in his spaghetti western days on the side of the road. “Out of gas?”, she asks. The motorcycle gets loaded into the back. All the while, the music and the camera work are suggesting that this woman is CRAZY for letting this dusty stranger in her vehicle, with her daughter in the back. Then, “Daddy just HAD to get a motorcycle.” OK – he’s not a potential murder, he’s a relative. But it’s manipulative and creepy, and I don’t think it engenders the sense of security that the purchaser of such a vehicle would want.

There’s a Coke commercial featuring lots of roller skating or blading. “It’s a Coke thing.” It must be a generational thing, because every time I hear it, it reminds me of the theme to the Academy-award winning movie “Midnight Cowboy”, a depressing flick I’ve managed to see four times in the theater within 18 months of its release. So instead of “Sparkle”, I think of Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) pounding on a vehicle and yelling, “I’m WALKING here!” But what I often tell my wife when she’s perplexed by an ad, I need to tell myself: “I’m not the target demographic.”

And speaking of commercials, Mason Adams died late last month. He had a most distinctive voice for radio and television for decades. I was a big Lou Grant fan, so I remember him as Lou’s boss Charlie Hume. But he’ll probably be best remembered for saying, “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.” As Vietnam-era DJ Adrian Cronauer, who talks about him on this NPR audio clip might have put it, “To sell the Smucker’s catchphrase, Mason Adams had to be good.”