The Simple Pleasure of a TV Commercial

I know it’s going to sound quirky, but one of my favorite simple pleasures is picking apart commercial ads.  I don’t set out to.  In fact, I enjoy lots of commercials for their humor, creativity, and production (check out the latest JC Penney ads with Ellen DeGeneres or the new Cartier ad that looks like a short film.  Maybe it should be a contender at next year’s Academy Awards?). I enjoy the way advertisers try to get my attention – you never know what tack they’re going to take.  To me, it’s just like what they say about children trying to get your attention: whether they seek good attention or bad attention, they’re still looking for your attention.  Doesn’t that sound exactly like what a commercial is supposed to do?

So, for better or for worse, here are some examples of commercials that have gotten my attention and my reactions to them.  You can check out the ads and examine your own reaction:

1. Lately I’ve been seeing the new round of commercials for Huntington Learning Center.  Like me, I’m sure you have the dialogue from the previous ones permanently seared into your brain: “Face it, I’m not getting into college!” and “Saying it and doing it are two different things!”.  I have to say that, while the dialogue is irritating and the acting is pretty bad, they do manage to get my attention.

One of their recent ads shows a group of women chatting over coffee about one exasperated mother’s anguish over her daughter failing in school.  When one of the women recommends Huntington to her, because it worked for her son, another woman reacts with surprise, because after all, “Isn’t Tyler an honor student?”  And the boy’s mother responds, “Not before Huntington!”

Maybe it’s the way she says that, but immediately, I think:  1. Isn’t anything sacred?  Did she have to put her son’s business out there like that?  Gee, thanks, Mom!  What was he before Huntington?  A dunce?  And 2. The exasperated mom, thinking her daughter was going through a phase – should she really be drinking coffee when she’s already this wired?  I hope it was decaf, for her sake, she’s already stressed enough.  See for yourself:

2.Another commercial I thought was pretty funny is the one for a GPS tracking device for pets.  The way the device works is that it is attached to your pet’s collar. If your pet leaves home, you can find him more easily, using your computer or mobile device.

In this particular ad, the young couple speaks lovingly about their dogs who, because they have no children, are their family.  The dogs are their kids. It’s clear that Jesse and Tizzie really cherish their pets.  Who wouldn’t, right?  So they invest in a GPS tracking device to ensure that they will find their dogs in the event that they get lost.  So far it’s all good, until they mention how often the dogs are getting out because the gate isn’t always shut.  And I’m thinking, 1. Maybe it’s a good thing they only have dogs right now, and 2. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just fix or close that gate?  Judge for yourself:

3.  Life Alert (“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”), has put out some humorous commercials in the past, although I’m sure they were not intended to be seen that way.  So when I saw this recent ad, I was impressed that they presented an intelligent, capable, senior female spokesperson.  Someone I would take seriously.  Could be my mom.  So here’s the scenario:  she lives alone and she’s fallen in her kitchen.  She tries calling for help but no one hears her.  As she is lying on the floor, she worries about her kids and grandkids who will have to go on without her.  Two days later she is found by a neighbor.

My question is this: These kids and grandkids she’s so worried about, going on without her – where are they? And, why don’t they call more often, especially when they know she lives alone?  I think she should worry about them less and worry about herself a little more!  Take a look:

4. Finally, I’ll leave you with this commercial that’s been getting a LOT of attention.  It’s for Citibank and it features some scary rock climbing and a song that doesn’t seem to go with the theme of the ad.  Like many viewers, my husband and I wondered if the rock climbing was real, and if so, WHY would anyone want to DO that?  For me, like many viewers too, I wanted to know what and why that annoying song.  The lyric that stands out says, “Somebody left the gate open”.  Wouldn’t that go better with the pet GPS ad?  Anyway, check out this video that explains the behind the scenes of the Citi rock climbing commercial and enjoy!

4 thoughts on “The Simple Pleasure of a TV Commercial

  1. When my daughter was a toddler and older, we’d watch tv commercials and talk about how people sat down around a table in the conference room of an advertising agency, in an office building in New York City to figure out ways to make you want to buy X product. It worked. As a teen-ager we still do that today and she’s not taken in by all the commercials trying to get you to buy the latest and greatest. Which is not always the latest and greatest.

    • That’s neat. My daughter is now finishing up her last semester at college. She majored in Integrated Marketing Communications/ Digital Media Arts. We both love to talk about aspects of advertising, but more so now that she has studied advertising.

      Sounds like we both have smart cookies!

  2. Sorry it took me so long to get to this post! I love those Huntington ads! So cheesy it’s great—just like the HeadOn commercials! I remember thinking the same thing about the Tagg commercial when I saw it for the first time. I just kept thinking, “if you lose your dogs that often, maybe you shouldn’t have dogs?”

    Funny thing about the Life Alert ad? Kevin’s parents showed me a video of their old house that was featured in one of those commercials! And this is my first time seeing the Citibank ad. What a strange choice of song; I really liked the parody with the baby and I love how you connected that to the Tagg commercial. 😀

    Now you can’t forget this commercial:

    • Ooh, that college in pajamas commercial always bugs me! It’s like they’re saying that college is so easy, you don’t have to even get out of bed to earn your degree. If only that were true…;-)

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