Saturday, January 06, 2007

Come On, Ad People

Yeah, I've begun to hate me some ads lately. Two ads I saw during the Wild Card playoff games today immediately pissed me off.

The Wendy's ad with the guy eating the miniscule hamburger and fries, next to the guy eating the Wendy's combo with the "larger" portion. The smaller-food guy touts he paid $2.99 for the combo, while the Wendy's guy claims the same price for his relative king's feast.

The exaggeration this ad uses to drive a point home is in no way based in reality. What competing restaurant sells food that is significantly smaller than Wendy's and charges the same price? Is this something fast food customers regularly run into when they order off the dollar menu? the ad truly functions is taking your mind off how small Wendy's dollar menu items are, as if you should be glad what you get if you go there, because just imagine going anywhere else! They absolutely need this kind of backwards-relativity to sell "bigness."

Then on to the Subway ad where the woman asks for combo #6 and then wants to change it to a #9, and the happy employee turns the box around so that the 6 becomes a 9. Again, this comedy is in no way based on reality. No one would put up with that, and it again suggests that "everywhere else" has bad service. Just like my feelings on negative political campaign ads, I'm not interested in what the product is not, I'm interested in what it is.

My point is, when companies use a device like exaggeration, it should have some sort of truth to it. It should ring familiar. I think ad people sometimes get so caught up in the punchline of a joke they forget the logic, but these ads have a "hidden" motive behind the joke. They sneakily throw some "relatable" joke in an ad as a smokescreen for their (unspoken) false claims.


At 1/07/2007 02:57:00 PM, Blogger Piper said...

As An Ad Guy, I absolutely agree with you. Exageration has a place, but it still needs to come from a truth and have some human element in it.

The Wendy's commercial comes close to some truth but it overdoes it with the acting. So it doesn't seem real.

But how about that Old Spice commercial with Bruce Campbell? Unexpected. Loved it.

At 1/07/2007 03:18:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Somehow I've missed the Old Spice commercial with Bruce Campbell, but it sounds funny already.

At 1/08/2007 12:55:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

I, too, missed the Bruce Campbell ad. Sounds funny.

But that Wendy's ad with the tiny value meal is ridiculous. More than being a stupid exaggeration, it's just not funny. And why are they in a library? When did libraries start letting people bring in greasy fast food to eat at their tables?!

Exaggeration can be used quite effectively in ads--I'm thinking of the Terry Tate Office Linebacker series...where clearly no one would hire someone to tackle office workers who are slacking off. But it does seem like there are an awful lot of ads that think simply using exaggeration is enough. That's not just's illogical and uncreative.

At 1/08/2007 04:39:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Yeah, I loved the Terry Tate ads, but they in some ways were based in "reality," in that maybe companies have to go to extremes to get people to work. And that's how those ads ring true and are funny. I'm sure bosses at least fantasize about such an employee.

Whereas in a food commercial, exaggeration of this type clearly doesn't work, because most people are familiar with the portions at fast food places, and none of them offer tremendously large dollar items, certainly not Wendy's, who seems to be claiming that some competitor out there is offering way smaller food than they do at the same price...yeah, stupid and not funny.

And yeah, exactly...a library? To quote Adam Sandler in an SNL skit, "Who are the ad wizards who thought this one up?"

At 1/08/2007 09:46:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

The Terry Tate ads are a fucking riot, and they have the longer ones on line. Just go to google and type in Terry Tate, and they'll come up. Not sure the exact adress, but god, they are funny. And I have got to find that Bruce Campbell ad; that sounds funny as hell. Great post; couldn't agree more.

At 1/09/2007 08:36:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

"Who are the ad wizards who thought this one up?"

Man, I remember that skit, and I have quoted that line multiple times in social settings only to receive blank stares. It was some sort of game show, if I remember right...and that line was Sandler's answer more than once.

And yeah, I watched all the Terry Tates on YouTube last night. Still some of the funniest commercials I've ever seen. You're right that those ads combine exaggeration with a dose of reality.

Just throwing some exaggeration in there for the sake of doing it is silly.


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