Does advertising work? asks the billboard at the side of the highway, then answering its own question with it just did! To break this down, the billboard suggests that advertising works because you've just read the message stating that it works, and might therefore consider paying the owners of the billboard a load of money to slap up a few images promoting your suppository franchise, or whatever it is you do. Of course, although the billboard suggests that advertising works because you've just read the message stating that it works, the only people who will have read the message are those who read the message because anyone who didn't bother to read the message won't have read it, making this the advertising equivalent of the anthropic principle, namely the philosophical consideration that observations of the universe must be compatible with the conscious and sapient life that observes it. The message is additionally weakened by the presumption of its own cognitive impact, resting on the premise that mere awareness of a product or service is the same as paying for it; which it isn't, as the billboard itself demonstrates, because I've seen it fucking hundreds of times and I'm still not absolutely certain of the six words cited here being the right ones.
Likewise, the following television commercials have sent me flying across the room to hit the mute button on the remote probably hundreds of occasions in some cases, and yet I'm still unable to remember what half of the fuckers are advertising, because all I can see in my minds eye is a parade of gormless grinning faces suffused with halos of how much I loathe everyone involved, which if anything only ensures that I'll go out of my way to avoid purchase of whatever shit they're selling in the event of my ever needing it or even being able to remember what it is. Marketing departments might suggest otherwise, but marketing departments are explicitly in the business of just making shit up and so their testimony is worthless. The civilisation of ancient Egypt endured for around three-thousand years, give or take a few periods of unrest. Isn't it fucking funny how you never hear anything about their marketing department?
AARP. I think this stands for the American Association of Retired People, but I can't be bothered to check. I'm sure it's a worthy organisation, dedicated as it is to involving those over a certain age with theatre visits, wine tasting, salsa classes and so on, but publicising the organisation with weird wobbly-headed older people grinning in your face seems ill-advised. So far there have been two major advertising campaigns, both starring Hispanic oldsters, first a woman and then a man. Each has this weirdly over-familiar grin like they're trying to get you involved in something your parents don't need to know about, and they grin and they wobble their heads side to side as though either pissed or ripped to the tits on prescription painkillers, and they slur something like if you don' think real possibilities when you hear the name AARP, then you don' know AARP, which sounds almost as though it should have my frien' at the end as an unwelcome hand finds its way round to your ass. Considering it all happens on a telly screen, there's something weirdly intrusive about Señor and Señora Real Possibilities, as though television has now found a way to invade your personal space with what nevertheless remains a two-dimensional image.
Contemplative Hillbillies Impressed by Impact of Heavy Object. I can't remember if this is Ford, Chevrolet, or General Motors, but it probably doesn't matter. As our tableau commences we see a group of guys in stetsons and jeans stood around looking at massive trucks, the kind of trucks only ever driven by men with enormous penises, so it's a safe bet that all of these hillbillies probably have penises of at least a foot in length, possibly two foot in the case of a couple of the more stoically rugged ones. None of these men are strangers to big heavy tools, not just the kind presently at rest within their own trousers, but also wrenches and items with rubber-grip handles which they squeeze and twist when engaging in their manly labours, grunting and occasionally pausing to quaff a refreshing beer-style beverage. When these men have finished utilising their big heavy tools out in the wilderness at the mercy of lions, bears and probably Injuns, they toss their big heavy tools in the back of their trucks and head home, and of course being just regular guys, they toss their tools roughly rather than daintily, like some homosexual carefully arranging wildflowers upon a gingham cushion; but in tossing their tools, sometimes they damage their trucks. So here the hillbillies stand in contemplation as heavy metal boxes of tools are cast into the back of trucks with a thud thud thud. One brand of truck sustains denting, but the other doesn't because it is rugged like the men. This makes the men happy and so we see them smile and nod with approval.
Grandpa the Asthmatic Wolf. This commercial riffs - probably unintentionally - on a cartoon I once saw in Punch magazine wherein an old man, having just announced how delightful he finds the unalloyed directness of the young, is asked Grandpa, how come you're so fat, grey, bald, and wrinkled? Here he's reading them the story of the Three Little Pigs, and has just reached the point at which the wolf is huffing and puffing when one of his own grandchildren points out that he too does quite a lot of huffing and puffing . 'It's my asthma,' he explains, digressing off into a long and unnecessarily detailed account of his condition, apparently having missed the point that his girls were simply engaging in banter and hadn't actually requested for this droning summary of his medical history. The advert then enters an animated segment wherein a cartoon wolf consults the advice of his doctor regarding asthma, correct usage of inhalers and so on, prior to tackling those three pigs. One sequence shows the wolf, breathing quite easily whilst engaged in rigorous activity, dancing with his wolf granddaughters, here identified by dresses and tiaras, making it quite clear that the wolf is also Grandpa. Personally I think this sends out a slightly dubious message, and - as with all medical adverts - this one spends five inevitable minutes listing all of the potentially deadly side effects of using this particular form of relief for asthma symptoms, whatever it is. I know they probably have to do it for legal reasons, but when two of the potentially deadly side effects are an increase in severity of asthma symptoms and death by asthma, the whole enterprise is rendered seemingly ludicrous; and Grandpa waving a cuddly toy wolf at the girls and making them scream with delight at the end doesn't really help a whole lot.
Grinning Fool Plays Air Drums. This is a locally made advertisement, possibly filmed on some cunt's phone by the look of it and starring the actual people who own the car dealership and who will probably try to flog you a motor should you find that their advertising has worked for you. My guess would be that neither of them ever took any sort of acting course and are thus banking on the raw, unpolished honesty of their performance, such as it is, to win you over. She is small and Hispanic, and he physically suggests a scenario in which aliens discovered the ruined body of Hoss from NBC's Bonanza on some distant asteroid and attempted to surgically restore him but, lacking any understanding of human physiology, found themselves obliged to use an Alfred E. Neuman heavy issue of Mad magazine for reference. Released back into the wild in the general vicinity of San Antonio, he was cruelly incapacitated by a thorn which became embedded in his mighty paw, but luckily the Latina woman happened to be passing and they've been faithful friends ever since. The part which really gets me is where she prefixes the announcement of some boring special offer by asking for a drum roll, whereupon he hunkers down and does the honours upon an imaginary snare; and whilst it's impressive that he's managed to suspend that stupid grin for a whole two seconds, it's hard not to notice his tongue pop from the corner of his mouth with all the strain of concentration. The guy resembles Gary from the thick kids class at my school, itself not an institution which was ever going to give Oxford or Cambridge much competition. I'm sure Gary was lovely but - Lordy was he stupid! He once gave me the nickname of Funny Eater, inspired by the difficulty I experienced with a particular sandwich. He saw me in trouble, he pointed, he laughed, and his imagination suggested Funny Eater might be a fitting nickname by which to forever associate me with the incident - a nickname which actually leaves the one who came up with it seeming more fucking pitiful than the person to whom it is applied, regardless of how poorly it went for me and that sandwich.
Inexplicable Enthusiasm for Cardboard Chicken. Most of us know Popeye as a Sailor Man with a heavy spinach habit, but here in Americaland he's also a fried chicken franchise which attempts to make a virtue out of taking fucking ages to get your order together by means of the presumably ironic strapline Louisiana fast. I think the implication is that they're not actually a massive corporation, but they're just these guys, you know, and like, they care about nourishing your soul as well as your stomach, so maybe give them a fuckin' chance, yeah? I mean if you got some plane to catch maybe you should've gone to Wendy's instead. To be fair, it may just be my presumably understaffed local branch of Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen which takes forever, although it's not actually the leisurely pace of their service which bothers me. The advertising stars an enthusiastic matronly chef lady delivering a jovial testimony to the superiority of her wares invoking good N'awlins home cookin', fresh spices, and Mardi Gras, mon cher. Conversely, the food, when it eventually arrives, leaves you with the sensation of having consumed an entire loaf of bread in one sitting, albeit a vaguely chicken-flavoured loaf of bread. It's not a good feeling, and contrasts with the promise of the advertising in the same way that the Aryan mythology of white supremacy tends to contrast with the lumpy tattooed mutants who subscribe to that sort of drivel. Also, chef lady smiles so hard that it looks like she's doing it at gunpoint, which is troubling.
Lucky Buffoon Hits Jackpot. This is a commercial for the Lucky Eagle casino of Eagle Pass which is somewhere down near the Mexican border so far as I understand. It's part of the Kickapoo reservation and is probably therefore able to operate outside state laws regarding gambling, whatever they may be. I've never really given much of a shit about gambling and tend to regard those who do as losers and arseholes. Everett's dad was supposedly a professional gambler, and he was a fucking shocker. That said, I'm happy to see First Nations people making a living - taking our money back from white people one quarter at a time, as runs the motto of the Wamapoke Casino. The thing I have a problem with is the hair metal theme song with Grace Slick - or someone of her general type - bellowing out lu-huckee eeyooooooowaaaargh over fifty simultaneous guitar solos whilst a buffoon looks happy in slow motion, drunk with the euphoria of having pumped five bucks into the slots and landed himself a sweet, sweet pay out of four dollars and twenty-five cents, the knob.
The Misery of Dry Skin. This is an advert for either moisturiser or some kind of specifically medicinal moisturiser, in which a robust looking woman explains that the very worst aspect of diabetes is undoubtedly the dry skin. Wikipedia on the other hand lists heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney failure, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes among those attendant complications one might reasonably regard as undesirable, and yet no mention of dry skin. Maybe the whole dry skin aspect is just too horrible to contemplate.
Pretzelphage Resumes Activity. This is a commercial for Aspen Dental, and I'm not sure why I should remember that detail when I remain in the dark about most of the rest discussed here. Anyway, all Aspen Dental commercials seem to be a variation on a theme in which persons with whom I suppose we are expected to identify realises that their teeth are shit and in need of work, and so they go to Aspen Dental, get those choppers sorted out, and behold their teeth are no longer shit because look - there's our man winning the taco eating competition, munching away like it ain't no thing; and in each case this narrative is delivered in the form of a song, complete with dental staff pulling wry faces to the camera as the patient yodels away in the chair. The thing which annoys me most about the worst of these adverts, the one sung by some woman working in a bakery, is the finale in which, still singing, she grins, snatches a large pretzel from the hand of her associate, and croons 'this pretzel's got nothing on me,' before taking a big old bite by way of demonstration. It's the actual phraseology which bothers me. The statement that something or other has nothing on the person making the statement is one of those things people tend to say because they've heard someone else say it and thought it sounded cool. In the case of our dentally enhanced vocalist, this pretzel's got nothing on me is like saying I am superior to this pretzel, or my victory over this pretzel is assured for I am better equipped to achieve victory than this inanimate baked item; which is a fucking stupid thing to say, because no-one is going to put money on the pretzel winning, and in any case it's a false dichotomy. The entire function of the pretzel is to be consumed and in doing so to provide sustenance. Therefore a victory for the pretzel constitutes its being consumed, which is what happens as a result of what the woman qualifies as her triumph, because she's a fucking idiot who tries too hard.
Purple Turd. Have you ever been bunged up, popped a laxative, and subsequently had yourself a really good shit? If so, did you enjoy it so much that you were barely able to contain yourself afterwards? Did you pull on a t-shirt bearing the slogan I ❤ my Lax? Did you rush down to the shore and write I ❤ my Lax in the sand in letters of a size sufficient as to allow the message to be read by the pilots of any aircraft which might be passing overhead? I've honestly never been that happy to have a shit, and I've spent time in Mexico, so to me it just looks like secret signalling for those who take pleasure in the production of fecal matter towards ends other than the purely alimentary, if you know what I'm saying. If you don't know what I'm saying you should probably consider yourself lucky. The animated segment of the advertisement - assuming it's the same one and I haven't just conflated two different laxative adverts - shows a purple turd set free and at last proceeding along a colon towards a bumhole like we're watching that episode of Barbapapa directed by Joan Miró. I suppose it's purple so as to allow viewers to get to grips with the general concept of having a shit without directly invoking the act whilst we're trying to eat our fucking tea, thank you very much; either that or someone has been on a diet of nothing but sloes for the past week.
Zipline Bore. 'Now that I'm over fifty,' says our helmeted guy as he's about to slide down a zipline attached to the side of the Matterhorn, 'my friends ask me, aren't you scared?' He pushes away, sliding off into empty Alpine space, just a knot of toughened cord preventing him from plummeting thousands of feet to his death, and as he slips off he yelps the rest of the anecdote, such as it is. The only thing he's really scared of, so it transpires, is leaving himself vulnerable to something or other by failing to either renew his health insurance or get himself inoculated against something or other - I can never remember which it is. I've a feeling this may be one of those adverts in which I asked my doctor and he said blah blah blah followed by four minutes listing all the potentially deadly side effects, so it's probably the latter - the inoculation. Personally, I suspect that our boy is somewhat embellishing his story. I expect he was having a drink with what few friends he has left, or he was hanging out at the sauna or something when he happened to mention that he was planning to slide down a mountain on a bit of rope; and the response was probably 'sure thing, Ken - sounds real scary,' before they carried on with whatever they had been talking about. It seems significant that the guy appears to be having this adventure holiday on his own, apart from whoever is holding the camera allowing him to waffle on and on and on, explaining his wearisome home-brewed philosophy to fucking no-one.