Commercials: Commentary from the Couch


By Jed Stalker/”The Voice”

Being home for the holidays included, for me, an enormous amount of time spent sitting on the couch and suspending all motor functions, which has given me a newfound sensitivity both to pillow placement and to commercial quality. For the former, I like them in the lower back region. For the latter, I like them good.

Every advertising, mass communications, and humanities major out there should listen very carefully: an endless string of commercials based on cheap hamburgers and a worthless attempt at word play? Not a good idea. A thousand truck commercials whose entire selling point is a gravely voice? Not a good idea. Beating what was once a good idea (geckos and cavemen) into incoherency? Well, that, friends, is a bad idea.

There are so many bad commercials running that I sometimes wonder why anyone purchases anything. During one football-saturated Sunday on the couch, I swore that if I saw one more horror movie trailer I was going out back to start a new life as a subsistence farmer. Fortunately for the back yard, halftime lasts only so long. 

But take comfort, faithful reader, for there is hope. There are some good commercials to break the monotony: sportscenter ads always draw a laugh, and Old Spice has grown increasingly off-the-wall and amusing. The commercial continuum does not end at chuckle-worthy, however. Indeed it does, if rarely, extend all the way to crazy-so-good.

Let me describe the perfect commercial to you. It would have shots of two children growing up rambunctiously, with a short scene for every five years or so. The children would then turn out to be two well-known and respected athletes on opposing sides of the playing field. A play would occur where both players were in the limelight, both doing their respective jobs to the tee, with suitably epic music throughout. Sound good? Well, somebody else thought of it first, and they pulled it off better than I could hope to describe.

Tomlinson, the Hall of Famer in waiting, comes around the corner and picks up five, at which point Polamalu, one of the best and hardest hitting safeties in the game, makes an unassisted open field tackle… and there is a tiny flashback to the two little babies, laying down to rest after a hard day’s play. Then the grown-up players are back on their feet, LDT smacks Troy to say good job, and they run back to the huddle. I literally get goosebumps every time I see the commercial. It’s so good that it makes me want to start life over again with cleats on. If that doesn’t sell some sneakers, I don’t know what will. 

(Check out the commercial on youtbube.)

Nike means victory, both in Greek and advertising. If I were one of these ultra-rich sports guys, I would probably have a television in the hallway constantly on a loop of Nike’s greatest hits. Think about it: those “My better is better than your better” ads with Nash and Peterson, the first “Leave Nothing” with Merriman and Jackson making play after play with the Last of the Mohicans music playing, worldwide ball with Marvin Gaye singing the national anthem, LeBron’s “Candyman”… how could there possibly be better or cooler advertisements?

Nike takes commercials to an entirely different level, one that is not aimed at simple sales or chuckles. They are taking steps to making their brand a legend. Granted, commercials automatically get a bonus if they involve sports in any way in my estimation, but that isn’t all there is to it. Joe Buck’s car rental ads, for instance, have made me vow never to rent a car or use a suitcase with wheels on it, and while Howie Long could smash me into a Chevy’s cab, he could never talk me into one. 

My point having been made, I’m unsure how to conclude this little foray into the advertising world. I probably mean something like “let’s not be content with being ordinary or even attention getting, but let us instead aspire to greatness in our chosen field.” Or, maybe we should all just buy new sneakers.

You’ll find me on the couch.




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