Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Truth in Advertising

I'm sure you can agree that if there's one thing that's always appreciated in life, it's honesty. Nobody likes to feel jerked around, and we can all get behind the sentiment of being upfront about expectations. Unfortunately for the youth of America, ours is a culture which thrives on obfuscation and half-truths.

Take television commercials. Day after day our kids are forced to watch commercials that either fill their heads with false promises or talk down to them as if they were...well...kids. Take the following commercials, for example. See if you can notice any similarities between them:

Did you spot the similarities? They're subtle, to be sure, but they're definitely there. I'll bet they were sweating it when somebody came up with Dragon Blaster.

"What the hell, Tim?!?! It's got TWO WORDS in it?!?!?"

I have a feeling that I would have fit in well with the marketing team over in Eternia.

"Quick, we need a name and jingle for this new toy!"

"Try a two syllable word and just fit it to a 'dum-dum' rhythm!"

After that, I'd flip down my shades, pop my collar and leap into my Ferrari, content in the knowledge that I had batted yet another one out of the park.

But this is really what I consider one of the bad examples. Let's face it, those He-Man commercials are essentially bullshit, just repeating the name of the toy Ad nauseam to try and ingrain it in the little bastards' heads.

I prefer a commercial that doesn't make pretenses, one that lets me know exactly what I'm getting. Perhaps like Tiger Force from G.I. Joe...

Did you hear what they just said?

"Get those captured Cobra vehicles repainted and rearmed, they're part of Tiger Force now!"

They honestly just told you that you're buying the SAME DAMN TOY you already own, only this time it's got 'rad' new colors! Hell yeah! It should be easy to justify mom and dad pumping out another twenty bucks for the same plane YOU ALREADY OWN.

Kids aren't stupid. We all knew that toy manufacturers pulled that crap all the time. It's one thing to look at your new helicopter and think, "Hey, that's the same helicopter I already had!" That crushing moment of awareness is an important part of our adolescent years. However, it's something else entirely to have the manufacturer brazenly announce to you that they intend to screw you over.

I guess that was just a sign of the times for the '80s though. Remember, this is the same decade that brought us keytars and colorized movies. It wasn't exactly rocket surgery every day.

There are more subtle forms of truth, though, and some marketers found ways to tell you what you really needed to know about a toy without outright saying it. Here's a fine example of that:

The message? This toy will haunt your dreams every night for the rest of your existence. It will crawl into the deepest recesses of your mind only to spring forward at times when you're alone and the room is dark. Baby Laughs A Lot dwells in that cold bead of sweat that rolls down your back whenever mortal terror burns in your being.

Seriously, this doll is too cute and cuddly what Requiem for a Dream is to "feel good romp of the decade". Who lets this thing make it past the design stage? Had I been in the office the day the first prototype hit, I would have raised my hand and asked, "Has anybody here seen the original Evil Dead? Do you remember the character, Linda? Need I say more?"

That's right, folks, here is a doll that is reminiscent in almost EVERY aspect to a woman possessed by a Candarian demon, sitting in an abandoned cabin and giggling with glee while a group of college kids is killed one by one in horrific ways. That's what I want to give my kids, I'll tell you.

"Daddy, how do I stop that terrifying laughter?"

"Well, honey, if my memory of that film serves me right, you'll have to dismember her with an axe."

Okay, on second thought, that does rather sound like the kind of conversation I'd have with my kids.

"Here you go, hon, enjoy. If it creeps you out, KILL IT WITH FIRE."

This final video really needs no introduction. I'm hardly the first person to find it, and I'm sure that nothing I will say below will be any wittier than the seven trillion jokes already told, but hey, it's my blog, ain't it?

There it is. The holy grail of "what the fuck?!?!", the queen mother of all inventions disturbing and wrong. This is a commercial that you simply cannot watch without reaction.

For those without Flash, let me explain this children's toy. (For the record, it is impossible to describe this toy without the term 'Money Shot'.)

The Oozinator is essentially a toy squirt gun where you are encouraged to wrap your hand tightly around a hard shaft so that a pumping motion can be made. The ultimate goal of this stroking? Why, the money shot, of course. Yep, this is basically a water gun that you jack off so that you can spit thick ropes of an unnameable sticky white substance on your friends. How can you possibly discuss this thing in polite company, let alone see that commercial and think of buying it?

"Ooh, look, that kid is LOVING IT! He's totally smearing it all over his chest and face! We should TOTALLY get one of these for Timmy!"

I don't even think they know who their target market is for this one. Watching that commercial, I would think it's geared more towards pederasts than anything. I'm sure there's any number of lecherous old men who have tried to pay a little boy a quarter to film him being shot in the chest without a shirt on. It's all innocent fun, of course, it's JUST a squirt gun.

If you think I'm just being vulgar, I defy you to show that commercial to one single person who doesn't say the exact same thing. It's nothing but a pedophile's wet dream marketed in plastic form.

But hey, at least the commercial was honest about it.

No comments: