Back in my entry about celebrity pitchmen from last week, I complained about having to see the same ad with iggy pop arguing with a puppet 80 times in a row while watching videos on topgear.com.
The internet apparently listened to this complaint and decided to punish me right now as I watch a Mythbusters special on Discovery.com. During this video 3 different ads for the store Target alternate. This should be preferable to the same ad over and over, and it would be, except all three of these Target ads are infuriating in their own unique way, and not knowing which one is going to make its nails on a chalkboard like presence known to me during each commercial break is somehow worse than if target had just shown the same terrible ad during each break.
Its like having to open a door but knowing that behind it will be someone who will either: punch you in the face, kick you in the balls, or be Charles Barkley rapping about tacos, but the dread of not knowing which of these three things awaits you makes the whole experience worse.
I suppose its not actually quite as bad as all that, so maybe that should be Target's new slogan. Target: its better than being kicked in the balls.
The first offender is an ad promoting the fact that Target is selling crap with the Toy Story 3 logo etched into it. All Pixar movies are some of the best ever made, and since I am a grown man who owns a Cars backpack, I clearly have nothing against Pixar selling merch. But if Target is gonna make an ad about this, why did it have to be somewhere between bland and annoying in the newly created Strictly Commercials "Heigl Index" scale. Case in point:
The main thing that bothers me about this ad is that it takes characters that have a huge cultural resonance with anyone age 30 and under and gives them absolutely nothing to do in the ad. The dialogue is generic and ranges from cliqued (Buzz acting like a space ranger) to completely out of character (the ghost of Jim Varney wanting to look tough?).
Like I said, I get that its just a target ad, and Target and Disney executives want their money, because have illegitimate children they need money to pay off, but how hard is it to give these characters something interesting to do in this ad?
I'm sure that voices in this ad are not of Tom Hanks or Joan Cusack, but I honestly don't think the ad sucking has anything to do with that fact, since Target didn't take anytime to think of anything interesting for the characters to do or say, they could have had Tom Hanks read the lines for Woody or Bea Arthur read the lines for Woody and the lines still would have been boring and out of character. (Actually this ad would have been supstainally improved if Woody had been voiced by Bea Arthur, especially if they had just used old clips from her in the Star Wars Christmas Special.)
I think the main problem is just that the commercial suffers from the same thing I was discussing in my post about wasted flesh and blood pitchmen. If you bother to get a big name, spend the time to write a commercial built around them.
Since this has apparently devolved into a post where I discuss cross promotions not doing justice to computer generated children's toys, I'm just going to run with it. Here is a Visa ad, it isn't amazing or anything, but makes far better use of the characters:
This ad gets around not having Tom Hanks by having the actor delivering his lines say them all as fast as possibly, and Jesse, the character played by Joan Cusack, doesn't actually say any lines at all.
Unlike the target ad something actually happens in this spot, it has something to do with the themes of the movies, in that its about trying to keep a toy form getting separated from the group, and unlike the target ad it doesn't lazily take place in a white background, but actually involves the toys spliced into live action footage of a store.
Though I suppose I shouldn't complain to much about having to see the target ad for one out of every three commercial breaks in between the video I'm watching. I could have to watch this Toy Story 3 and where children chase a computer generated version of the damn Aflac Duck around. Sadly it does not end with the children catching the Aflac duck and roasting him on a RonCo Showtime Rotisserie (i'm not gonna bother wasting space on my blog posting the video since it just a scene from the movie with the Aflac duck inserted into it.)
The other two Targets ads that were rotating, weren't quite as offensive to my delicate sensibilities as the toy story one, but still bugged me. Here is one stating you can buy Coppertone at Target:
I guess what bothers me about this ad is that it seems to be saying, "are you red-headed and therefore burn easily? My oh deary me! I'm sorry for your crippling handicap! you should go to Target posthaste and buy all the Coppertone they have you pasty freak!"
Also why is this a target ad only of a single bottle of Coppertone? shouldn't the ad instead point out you can buy everything you need for the beach at Target? Because if the only thing I can buy for the beach at Target is sunscreen, I'm really not inclined to go to a store 20 minutes away from my house to buy something I can get at the corner store.
But maybe I'm looking at this ad the wrong way. Maybe I should take it more at face value. Maybe its aimed only at families made up entirely of redheads who show up at the beach and are worried about getting burned. Maybe these families brought their computer along to the beach and and are streaming an episode of Mythbusters from Discovery.com and notice this ad with a identical family in it. With this they realize they must leave the beach and drive past the hundreds of stores selling beach accoutrements in order to drive back onto the mainland and find a target.
Or maybe I'm thinking too hard entirely about this and the ad was simply trying to point out that people with red hair are obligated to shop at Target, since it has a red logo, or Target will hunt you down and kill you like the mangy dog that you are.
Before I get too carried away, I'm going to switch to the third commercial. I tried google searching for a video of this ad, but didn't find one after two searches and decided that was the maximum amount of time I was willing to search for a target ad.
The offending commercial shows footage of a little girl, maybe 8 years old, doing little girl things like playing outside and wearing fairy wings while the narrator states, "on monday Mary likes purple, on tuesday mary like pink" this goes on until the narrator states, "and on sunday mary wonders what she will be into next week" as the commercials says this all the girls cloth change to be the color outfit the narrator describes.
Obviously a commercial for a big box store is going to try to get to go there and buy crap. But something really rubbed me the wrong way about showing a little girl acting independent and carefree with the message, "Your daughter is fickle and will change her taste in clothing every day. You must cow-tow to this need and buy your 8 year old daughter clothes in a new color scheme everyday or she will not be happy and will hire a lawyer to have her self legally emancipated from you. Target: Give us all your money!"
I would like to end this post by pointing that the first product to have its own infomercial, the famous/infamous Ginsu Knife, has a street named after it in Rhode Island. Rhode Island also at one point in 2000 decided to try to increase tourism by adopting Mr. PotatoHead as the states official spokesman, and building six foot tall statues of the spud around the city of providence, which is the only part of Rhode Island where anyone lives, because that state is the size of a pack of Uno cards. Mr. Potatohead, like the Ginsu Knife, was invented by a company based in Rhode Island.
This brings to light the fact that Rhode Island's sole export appears to be cheap novelty items.
When I read about the PotatoHead statues in 2000 it was in a short Newsweek article and I never saw a picture of them until trying to find a link to put about them for this post. I thought they were just big statues of the manspud to promote tourism. I had no idea they were Chicago "Cow Parade" style blank statues that artist were invited to decorate. I also was unaware that they would be way more disturbing than anything related to Mr. PotatoHead has any right to be. Exhibit A:
(Those photos found at mrpotatohead.net. More just as scary PotatoHeabominations can also be found at that same site.)