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Deep Thoughts: Playoff commercials edition

Oct 15, 2012, 1:00 PM EDT

DirectTV jackass

Because I DVR almost everything I watch on TV and 90% of my regular season baseball watching occurs on, the only time I ever really watch commercials is during the playoffs.  And, as anyone who has watched a lot of playoff commercials this fall knows, a handful of them are on HEAVY rotation.

This is pretty pointless — and yes, I realize that I’m half-talking out of my butt here as I don’t know jack about advertising beyond whatever I picked up while watching “Mad Men” — but here are some random postseason commercial observations:

The DirectTV ads may be the most nihilistic and depressing things ever.  The ones in the “don’t wind up in a roadside ditch” campaign are bad enough: they are basically telling you that any attempt to do anything besides watch TV will lead to bodily injury. But at least they core point of that — become a slave to your TV! — is in keeping with their corporate interests.  They’re a TV company, so of course they want you watching, so I cut that a little slack.

But the new spot is something else. You know which one I’m talking about: the woman who gets out of the shower to see the big DVR message in her bathroom, only to have her tooth-brushing husband offer all kinds of acidic and crappy remarks back at her (“well, at least somebody gets to …”):


At least the guy who ends up injured in a roadside ditch will find some modicum of safe, depressing contentment if he gets rid of cable. The tooth-brushing guy, however, is gonna be a miserable, passive aggressive sonofabitch even if his family does switch over to DirectTV.  The worst part: the newest ad has him talking to his kid. Great, not only is he in a bitter and loveless marriage, but there are kids involved. Thanks DirectTV! Where can I go kill myself?

In a more subtle form of anti-marketing, the Taco Bell Cantina bowl commercials perplex me a bit.  I get what they’re doing — expanding their menu and going after Chipotle and the like — but it strikes me that there is no brand stronger in fast food than Taco Bell’s “come here and eat cheap tasty stuff that may not be good for you but by god it’s gonna make you happy” brand.  When I see a chef in an impossibly well-appointed kitchen, poring over fresh ingredients and telling me that “you won’t BELIEVE it’s Taco Bell!” I feel like they are abandoning their core stoner/blogger/Taco Bell-loving demographic.  And I’m not alone in this:

Consider it an opportunity lost.

I do like one thing about those Taco Bell ads: the way Lorena Garcia says “avocados” and “guacamole.” Not gonna lie: I look forward to that.  But one effect it does have is to put the actual avocado commercials — “that’s BUSH LEAGUE, BRO!” — into sharp, horrible relief. They’ve been around forever, and they’re beyond tired. The ballplayer in them is probably retired and nearly eligible for the Hall of Fame now. All I can think is that the avocado industry is so hard up right now that they can only film new commercials every five years and that, by rerunning them all the time, they’re banking on us becoming so sick of that ad that we feel compelled to buy more guacamole simply so that they get more money to produce new ones.

Hey handsome:


I have no idea what to think about these ads. I am not a rum drinker at all and can’t see how I ever will be, but I kinda like them. And that “You Rascal You” song from the one they play most of the time is actually pretty bitchin’.  Easily the best “stumble upon a song you didn’t really know about and then end up liking on its own terms” commercial since that Volkswagon ad that featured Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” back in 1999.

Still, I feel like the woman who the Captain takes out of that party is a bit fickle.  She is understandably creeped out by the old guy in the powdered wig with whom she’s dancing, but is this guy any less creepy?


I dunno. I’m more for quiet gatherings in the first place, so maybe I’m taking it too easy on the dude from the dance.

Anyway, that’s all I got for now. Tune in next year when we celebrate the ten year anniversary of “HER HIS FATHER IS THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY!”  Hoping they bring that one back.

UPDATE:  Forgot one!  The Samsung Galaxy III commercial that makes fun of the people on line at the Apple store.  The one I like the most is the “the headphone jack is going to be on the BOTTOM …[speshhhew!!]” guy.  I don’t know why I like him. I like to imagine that he’s going to become like Henry “Are we have fun yet??!!!” Pollard on “Party Down.”

As for the campaign itself: good luck, Samsung. It reminds me — and this will date me a bit — of the IBM OS2 Warp operating system commercials from 1995.  They were kind of funny and clever and took aim at Microsoft and its slightly delayed introduction of Windows 95.  Those commercials will always live in my memory, but if you can find one person who was really using OS2 Warp after Windows 95 came out you were a better man than I.

106 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. jayscarpa - Oct 15, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Wood pulling Dawson from the Ivy was funny the first couple of times.

    • MattJanik - Oct 15, 2012 at 4:23 PM


      Shoot me.

  2. schlom - Oct 15, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    My favorite is the Samsung Note commercial.

    “Look at all the wonderful things you can do for your business with our product! You can even make a pie chart!”

  3. ezthinking - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    The criticism of the Direct TV ads sounds like it was written by NBC.

    and the Samsung ads are a perfect slam on the pretentiousness of the iPhone/iPad crowd.

    Oh, and the Galaxy S III was outselling the iPhone 4s, not so with the recent rush on the 5, so its not an OS2 Warp deal, it’s a real competitor.

    • The Rabbit - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:27 PM

      Thanks for the job tip. Maybe I should apply for a writing position at NBC.
      My thoughts when watching the DirectTV ads are identical to Craig’s….and it serves a positive purpose. It’s a constant reminder that single=good because I could be married to a sarcastic, passive-aggressive sonavabitch. Don’t think that’s the intended message, though.

      • ezthinking - Oct 15, 2012 at 4:05 PM

        True enough. Instead of being married you can be the creeping single guy sitting alone in the corner of the bar on Christmas.

        Anyone taking the Direct TV commercial that personal with so much hatred for the guy must have had some serious relationship issues in their past. If you can’t handle the give-and-take of a relationship, there’s always internet porn.

      • cur68 - Oct 15, 2012 at 4:32 PM

        Missed your target there, sport. Rabbit’s a girl. She objects to the asshole with the toothbrush. In all likelihood you’d be the creepy dude in the bar at Christmas.
        As for the putz with the toofbrush? Sadly, that guy is probably typical of lots of married men. My half of the species, in all their glory. Jeez.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 15, 2012 at 5:13 PM



  4. prosourcetalk - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Nothing is worse than that IE9 commercial with that god-awful song. Nothing.

    • chadjones27 - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      Yes there is. Eddie Money trying to sing “Two Tickets to Paradise” in the Geico commercial is just, downright, sad. Oh, Eddie Money, how far you have fallen.

      • nolanwiffle - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:57 PM

        …..a relatively short fall, I’d say. Was Eddie Money really ever flying that high?

      • metalhead65 - Oct 15, 2012 at 4:44 PM

        obviously you are to young to remember when Eddie was high on the charts. it was called the 80’s and they and he rocked. now all you have for music today is noise with a beat and a different name attached to the same song. or worse yet hip hop.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:47 PM

        He must have been really high, because he can’t seem to sing anything these days.

      • JB (the original) - Oct 22, 2012 at 1:51 PM

        gotta give him a break mitzah; the guys an ex-cop alcoholic who tours (and apparently makes commercials) when the sauce fund runs low. He did have a good run though in the mid 80’s. I’m surprised he’s still alive and functioning.

  5. Jeremy T - Oct 15, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Dammit Craig, you got us again. Between this and the various preferences in regards to ketchup temperatures, HBT has proven that if you really want to get a few pages of comments, you should talk about something that really isn’t baseball at all.

    • historiophiliac - Oct 15, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      Yeah, there’s 83 fucking comments on a post about commercials.

  6. scatterbrian - Oct 15, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Holy shit! A Party Down reference!

    FYI, they’re in serious talks about a movie.

  7. scatterbrian - Oct 15, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Incidentally, the woman who Captain Moragn takes out of that party can be as fickle as she likes as far as I’m concerned.

  8. dondada10 - Oct 15, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    I’ve read both pages of comments. Nobody else hates the Cougar Town commercials?

    • historiophiliac - Oct 15, 2012 at 7:00 PM

      When the announcers are like WTF after they read the plug about “the show with the terrible name” you wonder how clever those advertisers think they are.

  9. schmedley69 - Oct 15, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    I’m sick of the Geico commercials with the 2 dorks with the guitars.

    • koufaxmitzvah - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:48 PM

      But they’re so with it….

  10. randygnyc - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    The wife in the direct tv commercial should be banging her husband a little more often. Perhaps he wouldn’t be as argumentative then.

    I find the Andre Dawson commercial to be exploitive, as if their implying the Hawk was in a drunk/drugged stupor for many years.

    Best commercial right now is the car commercial (haha, forgot which brand). That “beeps” as he is about to go too far (cologne, poker, kissing). Great facial expressions.

  11. frank433 - Oct 15, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    To be fair to the asshole husband not seeing his wife naked, she does get out of a fresh shower FULLY COVERED by a towel, with a backup towel on the shower door.

    • historiophiliac - Oct 15, 2012 at 10:13 PM

      Does he make you want to drop your towel? She has my sympathy.

      • frank433 - Oct 15, 2012 at 10:26 PM

        Look at the size of the bathroom, dude has some cash (he’s in debt up to his eyeballs)

      • historiophiliac - Oct 15, 2012 at 10:37 PM

        In which case, good on her.

  12. zer0s1gnal - Oct 15, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    It’s sad that my company still has tools that use OS 2 Warp. Hell we still have DOS 6.22. Anyway SoCo commercials are my favorite at the moment. Dude makes me laugh.

  13. franklinandbashandflorio - Oct 15, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    “What year is it”?

    -The Hawk

  14. sdsockers - Oct 16, 2012 at 3:30 AM

    The wife who steps out of the shower with the towel already wrapped around her, and the hubby is brushing his teeth…she’s the wife of Jack, from Jack in the Box. I love spotting her in other commercials.
    And I, too, mute ALL of the commercials. Except the E-Trade baby and The Most Interesting Man In The World, we love those.

    • chadjones27 - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:46 AM

      She’s also in the mail order contact lense commercial… “look, look with your special eyes”

  15. cmstrick - Oct 16, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    I just mute all the commercials between August and November in election years. I don’t like being lied to…

  16. jdillydawg - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Pretty damn funny article, and I couldn’t agree with you more. But you forgot all the Viagra and Cialis commercials. Seriously, are the only guys that watch the playoffs all suffering from erectile dysfunction? God I hate those commercials.

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