From the depths of his fatherhood, Ben al-Fowlkes sent me this Bubble Tape commercial of the early 90s—right at the intersection of Max Headroom and MTV. The Baby Boomers had recently assumed control of broadcast media, but they retained their identity as the first generation in history to see through institutional authority. They still didn’t buy what the man was selling, but their lives had progressed to the point where they were selling it. The generation told not to trust anyone over 30 was now in charge of marketing long gum to children. Naturally, they employed the message that most resonated with them: old people are not cool. As the Boomers grew even more hideously aged in the decades that followed, that idea would mutate into “most people are not cool.” The notion that you could be different from most people by buying something would become the central premise of American advertising.
If you watch Hulu, as I do when my Critique of Pure Reason is broken, you have probably seen Grand Marnier’s “blend out” commercials. In the one above, everyone at the club is kind of bored by a jazz combo, until a young man reinvigorates them by mounting the stage and beatboxing along. Grand Marnier: drink a bunch of it and interrupt a public performance, probably to broad acclaim. It’s pretty much your standard alcohol-commercial excellence fantasy, (q.v. Heineken) except everyone in the club is black, and our beatboxer is white. Surely there’s a reason for that—but what?
Obviously, Stringer is the cutest puppy in the world, even now that he is an old pro. Last night, a Budweiser advertisement featuring the second-cutest puppy in the world aired during the Super Bowl, and people loved it. According to USA Today’s Ad Meter, “Lost Dog” was the most popular ad of the broadcast. Coincidentally, Newt Gingrich announced on Twitter that it was his favorite, too. Newt Gingrich is a bidder for the admiration of the crowd, to paraphrase the De Lome Letter. Video after the jump.
Back when Combat! blog was young and wild, we discussed Miracle Whip’s “Don’t be so mayo” campaign, which positioned the Depression-era mayonnaise alternative as a uniquely millennial condiment. On the heels of that success, Chicago’s mcgarrybowen agency has launched the “Miracle Whip and proud of it” campaign, which further distinguishes the Kraft sandwich lube consumer from the man in the gray flannel suit. The ad above, entitled “Drew’s sandwich,” reminds us that Miracle Whip aficionados live in a kind of shadow society, a fraternity of outlaws who acknowledge one another with smoldering looks. Miracle Whip is for badasses. Put it in your mouth and shut up.
The best part of dogsitting Stringer is watching TV, and the best part of watching TV is seeing commercials. Neither of those statements is what rhetoricians call “true,” but my ad consumption is way up over the last week anyway, probably as a consequence of my inability to work the DVR. Don’t cry for me, because finally I can access the fundamental function of advertising: telling me what’s real. If, like me, you were 14 years old when “alternative” became the most popular genre of music, you know that large portions of American culture are fake. The mainstream is a powerful if misguided force, and it is up to us rugged individuals to discern what is authentic from trends, pretensions, corporate drones and simulacra. And we have nothing to go by besides A) our visceral intuition of the sublime and B) Maxwell House commercials. Video after the jump.