Tricking the Masses: Some Commercials for Your Thoughts


So, I know that this blog is titled “What Policy Dorks Do for Fun,” which generally implies that this whole blog will be about policy and politics. However, I am, in addition to being a journalism major, also a strategic communications and legal studies major. What this generally implies is I like watching and listening to commercials, and also that I have in my undergraduate years briefed a ridiculous amount of cases having to do with law, and media law in particular. Sometimes a commercial or series of commercials comes along that is either too ridiculous, too offensive, too fake, or too amazing for me to pass up. Also, I’m still a little depressed over losing Russ.

So here are a few of the notable commercials I’ve seen in the past few months. Most of them on Comedy Central, since I honestly watch very little actual TV. I will evaluate them in terms of best commercials, most notable political ad, and one commercial I really hate.

First, my personal favorite commercials: As many others are probably aware, unless you’ve been living under a rock, Old Spice has become a huge thing again, spurred by this absolutely genius set of commercials with “The Old Spice Man,” which began about 9 months ago. Even my boyfriend, who hates commercials, couldn’t help laughing at these. “I’m on a horse.”

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Funny, smart, and appealing to the chosen demographic. Aired on the right shows with the right people, and caused sales of Old Spice body wash to skyrocket 107%, according to Dhavan Shaw. Not to mention, I could literally watch that man on a horse allllllll day.

Another set of commercials that are not as brilliant a move, but that I won’t skip if they come on after a show: The Keith Stone commercials. By this point, if you watch any show steered vaguely towards the Keystone demographic, you’ve heard or seen Keith Stone, the “always smooth”  sideburns-adorned, surprisingly adorable Keystone spokesman.

This one is my personal favorite: . It’s the first one to air, introducing Keith Stone to the world, and reminds me of almost every man from my hometown that drinks Keystone. Cute, offensive in a manly sort of way, and hilarious in general. Win.

Now, on to the most notable political ad, which I also referenced in my previous election night coverage: The College RNC “I Am Debt” commercial. Now, this commercial is obviously moot, because we all saw the mutilation of the Democratic party 8 days ago. But every time I watched it, as a liberally minded youngster, I was actually upset. Mostly because it’s brilliant, well-targeted both to people my age and the parents who will see it as well here in Wisconsin, and completely untrue.

Evaluate for yourself:

Or if you’re at work, here’s the general gist of this 30 second spot, taken from Youtube.

Thanks to the policies of President Obama and the Democrats, our generation has become the face of government debt, deficits and spending. When we get to be our parents’ age, we will owe the government $279,000 for the national debt. It’s time to vote for candidates with a plan to reduce spending and create jobs. It’s time to vote conservative young people and their future.

I think the whole premise of this ad can be revoked by looking at some basic facts, i.e., most of this debt comes from two international wars (started under Bush), bailing out the big banks (a plan that started under Bush), and tax cuts for the wealthy (the most recent round started under, oh guess who! Bush). Or you could read this blog post from the Institute For America’s Future, which says almost the same thing. Oh, you should also check out this awesome site called whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com, because it’s well-designed, interesting, and TRUE.

Going back to the ad, though. This is brilliant advertising. I’m still not sure if the targeted demographic was kids or their parents, but I’m going to guess since I saw it on Comedy Central that it was aired with a mind towards people my age. It plays perfectly off the fears of current college students and their parents, most of whom are more worried about useless degrees and finding a job than anything else. It also plays well into those politically minded youth who want their generation to be known for more than technology and Jersey Shore reruns.

So a kudos goes out to the CRNC, even though I’m pretty much against you, for creating a great ad campaign while the Democrats floundered. You win this round.

Lastly, an ad I think is in bad taste: The currently airing  Twix commercial.

At first, the ads were hilarious. The tag line is memorable and ties in well with the ads. “Need A Moment? Chew it over with Twix.” Who hasn’t been in a open-mouth-insert-foot situation? The series includes several embarrassing moments, such as a man telling his girlfriend the dress makes her butt look big, and then the person eats a Twix, time pauses, and the person can think of a better line. Or in the case of the commercial I dislike, time to think of a good lie.

Apparently, eating a Twix will help you think of a lie to get out of cheating on your significant other, which is a bit over the line compared to trying to think of a good excuse for why you’re holding your girlfriend’s mother’s underwear when it was an accident in the first place. Personally, I think of this as a campaign that could have been brilliant and devolved into stupidity. I like Twix less after being over-saturated with that terrible ad.

Have commercials you admire or love to hate? Let me know!

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