Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Progressive Application

In the third part of my series on stupid car insurance ads, I have to mention one by Progressive. The ad itself isn't that bad - a guy is in some sort of store and apparently car insurance and all of its features (customer service, etc) come in boxes. It is sort of lame, but serves a purpose of showing all the great stuff that comes along with insurance from Progressive. What is idiotic and confusing about it is the cashier. First, she is totally annoying - calling out his savings over the intercom and adding on the free services included with a little too much enthusiasm. She also has on the worst makeup I have ever seen that wasn't on a drag queen. Thick black liquid liner that looks like it was applied with a Sharpie marker and bright red lipstick that only vaguely stays within her lip line. She looks like a completely crazy person who wishes it were still the fifties. Weird, inexplicable, and very unnattractive. It totally ruins the commercial - I mean, if the features of your product are overshadowed by the apparent insanity of the person selling it, the effectiveness of your commercial is probably going to be undermined a bit.



addition: I ahve just seen a new version of these ads where the crazy lady is announcing different options Progressive has - like safe driver discounts and pet injury coverage. I think covering your pets in case of an accident is great, but the makeup is still awful.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Secret (Insurance) Agent

There seems to be a theme for car insurance companies to have stupid commercials that barely relate to the product. Yesterday I talked about the dumb dancing Geico commercials (guess what, dancing like an idiot IS easy), and today I want to talk about Esurance.com. I don't like their animated superhero/spy girl commercials. The first one at least made a little bit of sense - she was being chased by bad guys and had to buy a car quick to get away. Being able to buy and print her insurance on the spot made her transaction with the car go faster and so she was able to get away. This was stupid in terms of the cartoon factor, but at least it served to really highlight the featres of the product. Then the commercials chose to stick with this character in different situations, and now is has evolved into just a bunch of random vignettes with robots or monsters or whatever, and nothing has anything to do with car insurance except that she keeps talking about it. Dumb. I guess they are trying to go with the feeling of a continuous story like the old coffee commercials, but they have failed at establishing any sort of coherent story line. And of course, those coffee commercials were stupid, too (even thought they did have Giles from Buffy).

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cave Disco

I liked the Geico cavemen commercials. I thought they were very funny - especially the ones in the therapist's office. But what is with the new series, featuring random bad dancing? These very vaguely make sense when the caveman says "I bet Geico thinks this is easy, too", but most of the spots don't have any talking whatsoever and so they are just stupid 30 second shots of cavemen dancing. I figure these are from the same mind that thought a sitcom would be a good idea, and we all know how well that turned out. I say either stick with the existential crisis theme or drop the cavemen altogether - the gecko is still a good mascot.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Warm Delights, Cold Comfort

I have a little bit of a problem with the commercials for Betty Crocker Warm Delights. They feature a variety of women (pregnant in the kitchen, single by the tv) sitting at home alone eating these little cakes. Now we all know that these products are marketed to women - who else is typicaly going to eat an entire cake? And yes, I have eaten my share of these, especially while pregnant. My question is - can we please try to jazz up the situations we might find ourselves in while eating these for the commercials? We know that pregnant or tired moms will indulge in chocolate, as will lonely ladies who are dateless on Saturday night (I've been that too). But does it have to be rubbed in? Beer commercials don't show fat guys sitting on their boxers watching baseball in their lazy boys while they don a six pack. Instead they feature glamorous situations with hot girls so the guys feel like maybe they will be cooler if they have that brand of beer. Can't we have a little suspension of reality too? We know the types of situations when we are likely to sit around shoving chocolate cake in our mouths, and they aren't the most glamorous, but would it kill the ads to gloss over that a little? After all, nobody loves gloss like tha ladies.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bribery.com

I have written before about an ad I liked for Hotels.com - the one featuring two shampoos. Well, there is a new one out there, and this one I think misses the mark. In this new ad a family is checking into a hotel and someone makes a comment about leaving a review on Hotels.com, and the bellman says "I think you will" while opeing a suitcase full of cash. this is not funny, and in my mind, completely undermines the whole principle of a site where regular people leave reviews for hotels. Subtle, ambiguous hints that maybe hotels are going out of there way to garner good reviews is funny. Outright bribery not so much. How can we trust the customer reviews if Hotels.com is actually telling us different places might be bribing the guests? I think they just shoot themselves in the foot with this spot. But hey, that's me. And I can totally change my mind if someone wants to show up at my door with a bag of cash.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'll Stick To Emotional Crutches

I had surgery on my foot last week and was led to believe that I would able to walk just on the heel of my foot. That was total bull, and I have found myself needing crutches, which I have never had before. And let me tell you, if I can manage it at all, this will be the last time as well. Crutches are not made for mothers. The first hurdle, literally, is the baby gate. Obviously going over like I usually do is out of the question, and it is low enough that I can barely reach the latch to open it, unless of course I stand on my good foot, hold my cructhes out to the side and lean over. Piece of cake. Once that is managed, then there is the whole, back up to swing it open, walk through, and then somehow reach back and grab it to close it again - all without falling over or putting your crutches in a place the prevents the proper operation of the gate. The second, literal hurdle, is all the toys and detritus that accompany having two children, the oldest 2. Finding a clear spot to put your feet is hard enough in normal circumstances, but managing to do it while on crutches is another task altogether. The third issue is that carrying anything is impossible, and I'm sure the mothers out there will agree, when you have kids you need to carry stuff alot. Bottles, bowls, toys, cups, etc, kids require more fetching than a retriever. Not to mention my 21 lb 7 month old - there's no way I could carry him when I can barely even manage a magazine. I need a walker with a big basket on the front that I could just plop everything in. This would also probaly alleviate my final issue, which is one of balance. My pain medication makes me thirsty, which means I drink more water and have to visit the bathroom more often. However, it also makes me dizzy, which s makes navigation from my bed to the toilet somehwat of a challenge. A walker can stand on its own, meaning my placement wouldn't have to be nearly as precise for me to avoid falling over - which I have nearly done twice this week. So I'm sold - enough of these crutches, I want a walker. Everybody keep a close eye on Grandma.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Bold Look Of Kohler

I absolutely love the commercial for Kohler where the guy who is supposed to be fixing/ installing the shower is actually taking the shower. How cool is that thing? With all the different body sprays and the digital system, that is the sweetest shower I have ever seen. I totally want it. And not just because I had surgery and am looking at nothing but sponge baths for the next week.

Monday, April 21, 2008

If The Government Followed Pointless Procedure – Oh, Wait…

I like the Nextel ‘if firefighters ruled the world’ commercial for its sly take on bureaucracy and the often ridiculous workings of the government. However, if they are so efficient and straightforward, why are they still bothering to use the stupid walkie talkie feature on their phone? I pretty much think that is the dumbest feature to add to a phone anyway, so using with people in the same room is just beyond brainless. It totally cancels out my appreciation for the witty set up for the ad.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sneak A Pic

My first thought when I saw the commercial where Ashton Kutcher is in a dressing room and a bunch of girls use his camera to take pictures of themselves was that it was weird. My second thought was that it was vaguely creepy seeing as he is married. Now I have seen a second version where he is at a party and the girls are taking pictures while he takes a phone call. It is still icky in terms of the whole 'seducing a married guy' thing, but now they show him saying into the phone "it's happening right now. They don't think I know" in reference to the pics. And that I find amusing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Yum, Minty, Kind Of

I have recently had this persistent tickle in the back of my throat that kicks in every night just as I lay down to sleep. Most irritating. Last night it finally occured ot me that it isn't really a cough and so I should try a histamine blocker instead of couch medicine. And fortunately we had some Benadryl quick dissolving strips laying around. These are great. They are like those breath strips that seem like little pieces of plastic and then dissolve on your tongue, burning a minty sensation into it. And since it is Benadryl it typically knocks me right out, which is also wonderful because then there isn't any issue of snoring keeping me awake. But I did notice one strange thing, and that is the flavor - vanilla mint. Now this is not the type of product where there is a vast selection in flavor, a la gum or toothpaste. Benadryl is pretty much one taste suits all, so I'm wondering why they picked vanilla mint. Why not just regular mint? Or peppermint? Because it seems to me that the section of the populace that likes their mint mixed with vanilla is most likely only slightly larger than the section buying the disgusting sounding lemon mint toothpaste. I'm just not sure what the motivation was here in terms of R&D - ' okay, guys, let's take a flavor that pretty much everyone likes, and add something slightly weird to it so that it only sort of tastes good and leaves a weird aftertaste.' Great idea, Bob. It is so refreshing to have a product that you can take without water require you to have some water on hand to wash the peculiar taste out of your mouth. Good call.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

So You Think You Can Step It Up And Dance With The Stars?

I am a dancer. I think I took my first dance class around the age of 3, although it may not count since my mom (the teacher) said I mostly just sat on the floor or hung on her leg. Regardless, it is something I have been doing my whole life, and probably something I could have pursued professionally if it had occured to me (and I wish it had). And, even though it sometimes makes me jealous and sad to realize that not only am I nowhere near as good as I used to be, but also that (because I am 30) I will undoubtedly never be that good again, I like watching the reality shows about dancing. Well, I like watching the ones about actual talented dancers - I don't watch D list has-been "celebrities" stump around crippling their excellent partners. But as much as I love these shows I cannot get the names right. So You Think You Can Dance is my favorite, but for some reason I always call it Dancing With The Stars, which is weird because like I said, I don't watch that one. And now there is a new one on Bravo called Step It Up And Dance, and I am calling that one So You Think You Can Dance. And while I find this a little odd, and people I talk to probably find it confusing since they never know what show I am actually talking about, it has also brought to my attention just how freaking long the titles of these shows are. What is up with that? SYTYCD is by the same people who do American Idol, couldn't they just have called it Dance Idol or something short like that? And the promos for the Bravo show has been saying these dancers will go "TOE to TOE" which I think makes a way better title. Oh well. They chose Elizabeth Berkeley (yep, from Showgirls) as host and judge so their judgment is clearly a little flawed.


addition: thanks to a comment, I have found a fabulous recap of this week's Step It Up and Dance. Check it out here

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Short And Tall Of It

A while ago I saw an ad (magazine or on TV I don't remember) for something called "Secret Fit Belly" - a new style of maternity pants that goes all the way up over the belly and promises to keep your pants up. As someone who really had issues with falling trousers during both my pregnancies, I was intrigued and the other day decided to look it up and see what the deal was. When I did I learned something interesting (at least to me). This is "technology" developed by Destination Maternity which is a collection of various maternity stores. Motherhood Maternity is the basic store with the lowest prices, Mimi Maternity is a little more expensive, and A Pea In The Pod is the most expensive, with designer clothes. All of this seems fairly straightforward until I started looking at the selection of secret fit belly jeans and noticed one other difference - each store offers a different inseam. Motherhood is 30", Mimi has 32", and Pea in the Pod has 34". Now, designer denim does tend to run much longer, I guess so you can wear all your Manolos and not look like you have flood pants on, but I don't really see the reason for the lower priced jeans to have different inseams. Are people who can afford $75 for jeans taller than people who only want to pay $39? I find this extremely vexing (even though I'm not currently in need of any new maternity jeans) because a 30" inseam is way too short for me. So far, in my experience of online shopping, Victoria's Secret does the best in terms of inseam - they offer three different lengths on all of their pants, realizing that some people are taller and some people wear only heels, etc. Anywa, I guess it really doesn't matter, I just found it a bit odd. You always hear that taller people tend to be more successful - it must be true since the high end jeans are so long. By the way, the secret belly does look pretty cool. I don't know if it works that much better to hold your pants up, it is pretty hard to defy gravity and hook onto something so big and round, but it sure seems like a good idea.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Idol Gives Blech: Part Deux

I also hate when people who have larger bank accounts than I could ever hope to see have the balls to ask me to donate to charity. How about I donate my time, which I have plenty of, and you donate the money, Mr. Millionaire? If you want to beg, please don't do it in thousand dollar suits - let's see the people who actually need help, cause i'm pretty sure Michael Chiklis doesn't need any extra cash. Or meals. It is tacky and I feel sorry for all the poor (literally) souls who will be separated form their hard earned money just because Jim Carrey asked them for it. Clearly they have never heard the expression - lead by example. When they put their money where their big fat mouths are, then maybe I will answer their pleas for contributions. Also, what the hell was Bono doing talking about being American. Yes, he does a lot of charity work and can probably lend a nice perspective on that. But the guy is Irish - he doesn't know jack about being American, and I don't think for a second that touring here is going to give someone the right idea. And I'm not all that thrilled about Michael Johns leaving either, although I was relieved it wasn't Carly. All in all this week was one big pisser.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Idol Gives Blech

Okay – first off I want to say that I am in favor of charity work and donating time and money where it is needed. But this program is really just a whole lot of rigamarole so celebrities can feel good about being completely self absorbed the other 364 days of the year (or 365 since it is leap year). If American Idol really wants to raise money for charity then let’s dispense with the self congratulatory fanfare and just start charging for votes. Believe me it would not stop the 30 million people who vote for the show from expressing their love for their favorite singers, but it just might eliminate debacles like the whole Sanjaya incident. Even if they only charged $.20 per call, figuring on 30 million votes and 16 eliminations they would raise $96 million. And none of us would have to sit through a two hour pat-on-the-back borefest. It also might save all the idiots out there who vote for everyone (despite the fact that is the same as not voting at all, duh) from their own stupidity. Or it might cost them a lot of money – who knows. It’s just a thought.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Walking and Talking

Another Verizon Wireless ad has gotten under my skin lately. This series of spots features people walking and talking about what they are going to do now that they have unlimited minutes or whatever plan the ad is for. The girl is okay, except that I don't really understand the whole "I'm going to call Mike and Jim and Brad, Hi Brad, not Brad" thing. Does she not have to call him now because she saw him or what? Weird. And besides being kind of loose, she is also wearing a skirt that is 4 inches too short. It is a nice suit and she is very pretty girl, but the length of her skirt makes her legs look heavier than they probably are. The other ad shows a guy doing the walk and talk and one of the things he plans to do is "be that guy" talking on his phone while he's on the treadmill. Great. Cause what we need is more dipwads out there being rude and obnoxious in public. So I'm not really sure what vibe Verizon was going for with these ads, but they've landed on a 'more minutes will let you be the asshole/ho you have always wanted to be.' I can't imagine that was the plan.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A (Pseudo) Star Is Born

Last night I attended my husband's end of season employee party which featured karaoke. I struck a deal with my husband that if he sang I would sing, so after a rousing rendition of Suspicious Minds (complete with high kicks and other snazzy dance moves) I got up to sing. And loved it! You couldn't get me off the mike after that, although I did let other people have a turn and most of my follow up performances were shared with other people. But it was really fun, and no, I was not totally hammered either. I guess I just love the spotlight. Unfortunately though, I do not think I am the next great undiscovered talent. But that's okay. I can just be the star of my next birthday party, cause I'm totally hiring a karaoke dj!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Pay Attention, People

Here is something to watch for. You know the Verizon Wireless commercial where the daughter tells her dad she got an 'A' in advance physics and he says something like "that's terrible" beause he is distracted by how high the cell phone bill is? Well, the next scenario features his son driving straight through the garage door and the dad doesn't notice, again, because of the phone bill. But if you watch very carefully you will notice that as the dad is sitting at the kitchen table reading the bill you can see the kid driving past into the garage. Now you might say to me, 'well, so what?' and I would reply that I it is a bit strange that there is no door in between the garage and kitchen, no?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Room With Shampoo

There is a new Hotels.com commercial that is bizarrely fabulous. It features a man commenting to his wife that their hotel room has two shampoos, and she jokes that maybe they are trying to get him to leave a good review. And his response is so incredibly strange – first, he says that “it’s working” in such a horrified tone of voice – like he just can’t possibly fight the affect of two mini shampoos on his free will. Second, he immediately starts pouring the shampoo on his head and rubbing it in to his hair – while he is fully clothed and just standing in the room. So weird and absurd – I love it.

The Sunny Side

I have always liked the anti smoking commercials for thetruth.com , and the new versions for the sunny side of truth that feature singing and dancing (sometimes with cartoon animals) are even better. They add a nice whimsy and increase the sarcasm and irony, and of course we all know how much I like sarcasm and irony. And singing and dancing. And I'm not too big a fan of smoking either. So I guess these are right up my alley in lots of ways.

AI: Results

Yay. And I totally forgot to watch because I was learning the secrets of Paul McKenna who promises to make me thin. Oh well. Still yay!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

American Idol

My daughter really enjoyed Brooke White’s performance. At first I didn’t think much of it when she started yelling what sounded like “janese” after Brooke sang, but when she grabbed my arm and started strumming while doing it I realize she was in fact trying to sing Jolene. Since her favorite two years ago (at the age of only a few months) was Taylor Hicks, I think this bodes well for Brooke.
And, wow, Dolly sure looked weird. Although she hasn't really ever been the spokesmodel for natural beauty so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

American Idol

My husband and I are both very interested in learning what excuse Stumpy, aka Ramiele, has for sucking tonight. She can't possibly still be "sick," but maybe she had a traumatic encounter with an extra hot cup of coffee and scorched her sub-par vocal cords. Regardless, she will in no doubt sing badly, be poorly styled, and still manage to take a more deserving contestant's place on next week's show. If she is going to be this year's Sanjaya the least she can do is change up her hair every week. That at least made him entertaining. Of course, he also had a personality.