Friday, March 5, 2010

golden age of advertising



as Steve Heisler and i write commercials for Crisis!, we've forced ourselves to avoid parody almost entirely--which is pretty difficult when all advertising has ever consistently succeeded at since its inception (which i will not even pretend to know a date for) is set itself up for parody.

i don't watch much TV these days. i would estimate that spend anywhere from 1 to 4 hours a day on the computer. no lie. so i'm not going to get all high and mighty about how i don't watch TV because i've found plenty of ways on the interwebz to otherwise fry my fragile 80s baby brain.

because of the internet and its prevalence in my life since about 1997, my vast knowledge of television commercials is stunted beyond the mid to late 90s. i've seen enough to know that they freak me out, but i also can't think of a single thing i've wanted so desperately since then that was promoted through traditional commercials. this isn't to say that i'm not completely taken by advertising. moving to Chicago from Alabama changed my relationship with advertising ENTIRELY. i get it all from printed media--magazines, billboards, ads in the trains and buses. i've become more of a visual consumer minus the sound. i'll read the words a million times, and i don't want them underscored or overwhelmed with animation. i'm attracted to the same things most of America is taken in by these days. a few bold colors and start images (i.e. all print advertising for the iPod), randomness (i.e. the Burger King), humorous stylized imagery (i.e. Altoids, Halls Cough Drops).


i've realized, though, in working on these commercials how much i invested myself in commercials as a kid. they definitely worked on me, no doubt. i can vividly remember begging for cereals and toys and i would be willing to bet that some Pizza! Pizza! is still lodged somewhere in my large intestine thanks to the skillful art of advertising (not to mention the terribly convenient proximity of a Little Caesars to my childhood home). i got Crystal Pepsi, Fruit Roll-Ups, Gushers, Pop Tarts, Kix, even a P.J. Sparkles which, i would have admitted to you days after having received it to much begging and pleading that lead up to one year's Christmas, what the dumbest doll imaginable. i should have know. i hated dolls. what can i say? the commercial was convincing.


i should mention right now that whilst looking for an old PJ Sparkles commercial to post here, i ran across her distant cousin, Little Miss Singing Mermaid, which my sister got for some occasion or another. the commercial showed girls dipping Little Miss Singing Mermaid in and out of water. her two-bit trick was that she sang, like a poor man's version of Ariel from The LIttle Mermaid. the flawed vocals, i can only imagine, were meant to deter from any potential lawsuit more than insult the ears. the problem with Little Miss Slut Fish, it seems, was that she wasn't quite cut out for repeated evening dips in the bathtub. no. in fact, if memory serves me correctly (and i am unable to confirm this with my sister at such an hour), after several aforementioned dips, the poor doll warbled like something from the great beyond. in my matured years i would liken it to an apparition, like the spirit of a wood carved ship's bow mermaid who rotted away into the ocean only to find that she couldn't actually swim and is now doomed to eternal singing with a chest full of brine.


my point is that advertising like this is infectious and entirely successful. there is no real need to parody, because the joke is on me. forever. and you. forever. and therefore all of us. together. forever.


please enjoy the far gone wonder of my chain store bought youth:

 





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