No, it's not yet time for our annual TV commercial contest (although this weird Seattle winter is making me long for summer). But I just wanted to touch base on some of the ads that have been sticking in my head lately, and give you a chance to do the same.
• Movie promos count as commercials, right? Have you seen the ad for "Primeval" (warning: site has audio) where they trumpet that the film is "inspired by a true story ... of the world's most terrifying serial killer"? Have you perhaps wondered why none of us have heard of this killer? The movie promo is kind of pulling one over on us: If you want to know the identity of the killer (spoiler, obviously), click here. Yeah, does that count as a "serial killer" to you? Me neither.
• I've dogged Burger King many a time for the plastic-headed king ads (warning: he's getting a movie!) and other questionable marketing decisions. Right now, the stupid award goes to the one where the guy walks out of a restaurant singing about how manly he is to the tune of "I Am Woman" (really!), moaning musically about how he's "way too hungry to settle for chick food." He goes on to stomp out of the restaurant and down the street, gathering with him a parade of guys who push a minivan off a bridge. The only women seen from then on are (no joke) a couple cheerleaders in skimpy outfits rooting the men on and a barely glimpsed woman using a double Whopper to tempt a strongman. First off, is this really an issue Burger King felt they needed to address in their ads? Not enough men were eating there? Or maybe they felt men didn't know that you could eat a giant bad-for-you sloppy burger at a fast-food joint? Or maybe they wanted to drive the last female Burger King customer out the door for good? NO GURLZ.
• There is, however, a fast-food ad running now that I kind of like. It's where two co-workers run into each other in a McDonald's and say what's really in their minds, like "Hey, guy from work I don't really know!" "I don't really know your name, so I'll just call you 'Dude'," and "Hey, well hope I don't see ya later." I may have to try that last one sometime.
• And I can't leave the topic of current commercials without addressing the one ad that is inescapable these days. You know it, yes, you do, especially if you ever watch football: "This is ourrrrrrr country!" When the ad first came out, Slate wrote a devastating critique of it (and perhaps it worked -- I never see the version with famous people like Rosa Parks any more, now it's all generic hard-working cowboys and construction workers). Apparently a mushroom cloud was in an early version, too. It's made it into the You Tube parody, too (warning: parody has some adult images, including Johnny Cash's famous finger gesture).