Overwhelmed by commercial interests

February 02, 1997|By Dave Barry | Dave Barry,Knight-Ridder News Service

Whew! Do I have a headache! I think I'll take an Extra Strength Bufferin Advil Tylenol with proven cavity fighters, containing more of the lemon-freshened Borax that is recommended by doctors and plaque fighters for those days when I am feeling "not so fresh" in my personal region!

The reason I'm feeling this way is that I have just spent six straight days going through the thousands of letters you readers sent in when I asked you to tell me which advertisements you don't like. It turns out that a lot of you really, really hate certain advertisements, to the point where you fantasize about acts of violence. For example, quite a few people expressed a desire to kill the stuffed bear in the Snuggle fabric-softener commercial. "Die, Snuggle Bear! Die!" is how several put it.

Likewise there was a great deal of hostility expressed, often by older readers, toward the relentlessly cheerful older couples depicted in the competing commercials for Ensure and Sustacal. These commercials strongly suggest that if you drink these products, you will feel "young," which, in these commercials, means "stupid." People were particularly offended by the commercial where the couple actually drinks a toast with Ensure. As Jamie Hagedorn described it: "One says, 'To your health,' and the other says, 'Uh-uh -- to our health,' and then for some reason they laugh like ninnies. I want to hit them both over the head with a hammer."

Some other commercial personalities who aroused great hostility were Sally Struthers; the little boy who lectures you incessantly about Welch's grape juice; the young people in the Mentos commercials (as Rob Spore put it, "Don't you think those kids should all be sent to military school?"); everybody in all Calvin Klein commercials; the little girl in the Shake 'N Bake commercial -- Southerners really hate this little girl -- who, for what seemed like hundreds of years, said, "And I helped!" but pronounced it "An ah hayulpt!"; Kathie Lee Gifford (Shannon Saar wrote, "First person to push Kathie Lee overboard gets an all-you-can-eat buffet!"); the smug man in the Geritol commercial who said, "My wife I think I'll keep her!" (the wife smiled, but you just know that one day she will put Liquid Drano in his Ensure); the bad actor pretending to be Dean Witter in the flagrantly fake "old film" commercial that's supposed to make us want to trust them with our money; the woman in the Pantene commercial who said, "Please don't hate me because I'm beautiful" (as many readers responded, "OK, how about if we just hate you because you're obnoxious?"); and of course the Pillsbury Doughboy ("I would sacrifice my microwave to watch him inside on high for 10 hours," wrote Gene Doerfler).

Also they are none too fond of the giant Gen X dudes stomping all over the Rocky Mountains in the Coors Light ads. (Matt Scott asks: "Will they step on us if we don't buy their beer?" Scott McCullar asks: "What happens when they get a full bladder?"

Also, many people would like Candice Bergen to just shut up about the stupid dimes.

Also, I am pleased to report that I am not the only person who cannot stand the sight of the Infiniti Snot -- you know, the guy with the dark clothes and the accent, talking about Infiniti cars as though they were Renaissance art. As Kathleen Schon, speaking for many, put it: "We hate him so much we wouldn't buy one of those even if we could afford it, which we can't, but we wouldn't buy one anyway."

Speaking of car commercials, here's a bulletin for the Nissan people: Nobody likes the creepy old man, OK? Everybody is afraid when the little boy winds up alone in the barn with him. This ad campaign does not make us want to purchase a Nissan. It makes us want to notify the police. Thank you.

And listen, Chevrolet: People didn't mind the first 389 million times they heard Bob Seger wail "Like a rock!" But it's getting old. And some people wish to know what "genuine Chevrolet" means. As Don Charleston put it, "I intended to buy a genuine Chevy but I couldn't tell the difference between the 'genuine' and all those counterfeit Chevys out there, so I bought a Ford."

But the car-related ads that people hate the most, judging from my survey, are the dealership commercials in which the announcer SHOUTS AT YOU AS THOUGH YOU ARE AN IDIOT and then, in the last three seconds of the ad reads, in very muted tones, what sounds like the entire U.S. tax code. Hundreds and hundreds of people wrote to say they hate these commercials. I should note that one person defended them: His name is George Chapogas, and he is in -- of all things -- the advertising business. Perhaps by examining this actual excerpt from his letter, we can appreciate the thinking behind the shouting ads:

"I write, produce and voice those ads. Make a damn good living doing it, too. Maybe more than you even. And would you like to know why? Because they move metal, buddy."

Thanks, George! I understand now.

Well, I'm out of space. Tune in next week, and I'll tell you which commercial the readers hated the most; I'll also discuss repulsive bodily functions in detail. Be sure to read it! You'll lose weight without dieting, have whiter teeth in two weeks by actually growing your own hair on itching, flaking skin as your family enjoys this delicious meal in only minutes without getting soggy in milk! Although your mileage may vary. Ask a doctor! Or somebody who plays one on TV.

Pub Date: 2/02/97

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