Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor (Issue #147)

For many years, one of my must-see tv shows was the annual airing of the Clio awards for the world’s best television commercials. I was consistently amazed and amused by 30 and 60-second clips that often surpassed in entertainment value the programs they helped finance.

Many of the winners were from foreign countries and few relied on subtitles in order to tell their story to a North American audience. People and/or animals, their expressions and situations, and clever product placement were usually all that was required to get the message.

We all have a few faves embedded in our memory banks. Everyone of a certain age can remember the little old lady with the big voice who asked “Where’s the beef?” Try as we might, some of us will never forget the sight of football star Joe Namath modelling pantyhose.

My favourites usually target the funny bone and don’t always accomplish their creator’s goal of making the sponsor memorable. I know I’m not alone there. Many commercials succeed in entertaining us but they’re failures if the company paying for them doesn’t get a bump in business. How many of us have started a conversation by saying something like: “You know that commercial where the dog and the guy are doing that thing with the whaddayacallit?” instead of: “Love that General Motors commercial where the dog and the guy are....”

Well, I have a current favourite, part of a series, that absolutely cracks me up. I think it is a brilliant piece of absurdist comedy that ranks with the best of the Goon Show, Monty Python or the gang at SCTV. AND I remember the sponsor - Holiday Inn.

Some of you may be groaning. Yes, it’s the series about those business guys who are (for the most part) dumber than a bag of doorknobs.

I’m torn about whether or not I should try to “set up” the commercial of which I’m particularly fond. The first time or three I saw it, it didn’t register much more than a mildly amused “huh?” Then, the fourth or fifth time ‘round it engaged all my synapses and now I can’t be eating or drinking anything when it comes on tv.

Here’s what I’ll do:

I’ll link to the commercial and you can watch it now if you want (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9gp1rnUbyQ). Or you can read my take on it below and then watch it. Or you can roll your eyes, stop reading and go do something interesting with your day.

Cue Jeopardy-like interval music....


We’ve all chuckled at some time or another when a friend, listening to music on headphones, starts to sing along with what he’s hearing. The person often assumes he’s singing very quietly to himself but the humour comes in the fact he’s singing louder than he imagines (and often off key).

This commercial starts that way. The most clueless of the three is listening to headphones and singing. The other two, overhearing him, start to sing along in the same sort of soft falsetto, as if they too were wearing headphones and listening to the same song. That’s funny enough right there.

But there’s more.

The original singer, overhearing his buddies sing along, removes his headphones, seemingly uncertain as to whether or not they’re mocking him. However, he’s soon caught up in the music groove again and sings along in what is now three-part, falsetto, headphone-like-but-without-headphones “harmony.”

It just plain cracks me up every time and is my personal nominee for one of this year’s Clios.

As a bonus, here’s another I like from the same bunch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0byuh3RdzOY&mode=related&search=).

Just enjoy it!

I'd love to hear about some of your favourites from yesterday and today.

A few weeks ago, I told you folks about the new addition to the household. You remember: that pint-sized, four-legged devil dog from heck, Benny. Well, Benny went for his first out-of-town visit last weekend and an interesting time was had by all. Yes, “interesting” in that Chinese curse kind of a way.

Hilary wrote about it in her blog, complete with lots of pictures. You can check it out by clicking here or visiting: http://thesmittenimage.blogspot.com/


Hilary said...

I can't believe I read the whole thing! But I deserved a break today and as always, your blog is good to the last drop. It couldn't be better if it was hand-picked by Juan Valdez. In fact, it's the real thing because you bring good things to life. I'd like to read more, but I also know that a little dab'll do me.

Thanks for the mention. :)

Sometimes I feel like a nut....

Frank Baron said...

*Somebody* watches too much tv! There's a cure for that you know. It's a pill-thing. Pop-pop, fizz-fizz, oh what a relief it is. ;)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but Frank, does it clean like a white tornado?

Cuz it's not nice to fool Mother Nature.

I'll send Mr. Whipple after you ....

Frank Baron said...

Sorry I was late replying Unique but I just couldn't tear myself away from squeezing the Charmin.


Crabby McSlacker said...


I've been sitting here for about five minutes trying to remember a commercial jingle so I can leave a cute comment, but I give up! Where are the dang things when you need them? Usually they're in my head all day long, but now... nothin', I got nothin'!

(I love the Clio's too and always find the foreign commercials way funnier than the U.S. ones.)

Sorry for the lack of creativity. I'd say "I deserve a break today" but Hilary already got to it first!

Stace said...

My dad used to tell me about this commercial for suncream, featuring a couple of black men laughing about not needing suncream. Good lord, you'd never get away with that on TV these days! Political correctness and all that guff.

lee said...

The best ads here seem to be for beer - they send up classic beer ads. Oh, I can't explain :).

Frank Baron said...

Crabby, ain't it always the way? I agree about the foreign commercials too.

Stace, you got that right, unless it was obviously a spoof of sorts.

lee said...

I just found one for you -please watch this -you will get a kick out of it :):


Frank Baron said...

I'd seen that one once before Lee, and was suitably impressed. I love the humour and the...the..gigantic-ness of the commercial. It's just...HUGE!

Kappa no He said...

Oh man is there a couple commercials I want to show you! Japan's tend to be surreal and leaning to non-sensical but sometimes it works. I can't find the one I want on Youtube...hang on let me use my superpowers and I'll be right back...right now I have to go" bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never never let you forget your a ~~~..."

Oh also! the first week I was in Japan as a student I turned on the TV and there was a commercial showng two young girls walking down the street in sailor uniforms. Suddenly from behind a third girl runs up, reaches around, and grabs one of the other girls boobs. I was like..."WHA?!" I still don't know what they were trying to sell, but I'll never forget that CM.

Frank Baron said...

Kappa, Japanese culture has always fascinated me. If you happen to stumble upon urls for those commercials, please share. :)

Moby Dick said...

I have seen some of those blooper type shows with commercials from foreign countries. Their best commercials seem to have a much funnier sense of humor.

The guy with the headphones used to do Geico commercials, and that automatically puts him on my non-funny list. He is in too many commercials. There used to be a guy who did Eckerd Drug Store commercials who for several years seemed to be in every commercial ever made. OVERSATURATION!

With all due respect to all of the fine and decent persons who work in media advertising, I have to say that I see the advertising media as a social menace. I am a bit jaded about commercials. I see the advertising media in general as a form of legalized prostitution. There should be some more stringent regulation of advertising, similar to the porn and prostitution industry. Advertising should not be glorified in any of its guises, but it should be seen as some horrible alternative manner of breaking into show business, similar to the porn industry. There have been movies made about the horrors of working in the advertising media and ad sales, so I am not barking up the wrong tree here...!

Frank Baron said...

Spidey, you'll get no dispute from this corner about how cruel and manipulative the advertising world can be. But in a capitalist society it's never going to go away. Nor in a non-capitalist one come to think of it - except there it's called "information" (propaganda).

What I believe is important is to educate kids from an early age to resist its siren call.

Unknown said...

I haven't had cable or anything for about five years now. I don't miss its sinister irrestibility, but I do miss the funny.

Radiowise, those Budweiser 'Real American Genius' radio commercials are bomb-diggity.

Moby Dick said...

You know, the worst thing (is it hypocrisy on my part?) is that when PBS (Public Television here in the USA) has its quarterly fund-raising, I find myself wishing they would allow commercials.

If you have ever seen PBS fund-raising, you know what I am talking about. They put on the best programs when they are in their fund-raising sessions. Then every fifteen or twenty minutes (usually during the best parts), they interrupt the show for ten or fifteen minutes of begging from various Station employees.

Sometimes they have local celebrities or taped requests from big stars. I guess I keep hoping someone will remember that promise of commercial-free cable TV (it rhymes). BTW, I saw that guy with the flat-head (the one who was listening to the radio), on yet another commercial today. Forgot what it was for.

Frank Baron said...

chill daddy, I haven't heard those commercials. Don't listen to too much USA radio these days but certainly Budweiser can hire the best agencies/writers in the business.

Yeah Spidey, I'm familiar with PBS and its Pledge Eternities. A friend of mine works at an NPR station and I tease her mercilessly about the endless whining.