Commercials Stink!!!

So we all agree that the last few weeks have been full of tension, right? Friends turned against friends; family gatherings became scream-fests filled with hurtful words. The workplace was rife with tension. It’s amazing the emotions that the breakup of Britney and K-Fed could cause.
Seriously, though, these past few weeks have sort of sucked…but if one is to believe the Argus Leader better days are ahead. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I don’t think so. The smiles lasted about 24 hours. Most of the major local issues didn’t just disappear once the election was over. The winners are patting themselves on the back just a bit too enthusiastically; losers are back to slandering their opponents. The Amendment E crowd is still threatening lawsuits and calling their critics names. And don’t think the Leslie Unruh’s of the state are finished. They’ll be back, and I’m sure those wonderful morons in their rundown fetus trucks will at some point return to our fine state.
I think a little levity is due to reduce the tension a bit. With that in mind, instead of my usual (semi)-serious rant against whatever political or media whore is pissing me off this week, I’m going to babble on a bit about an issue that I must admit is rather minor. If anything, it’s just an annoyance that probably doesn’t bother anybody but me.
My complaint today is the increasing use of contemporary pop and rock music in television commercials. This is a topic that I’ve always had mixed feelings about. In some respects, I don’t have a problem when a product’s ads are accompanied by a catchy tune that makes me sit up and notice.
Yet at the same time I detest the ulterior motives that sometimes accompany such a move. This disgust dates back to the mid-80’s, shortly after ad agencies first realized that rock ‘n’ roll had become so engrossed in our entire culture (and not just the younger generation) that cars, beer, and toothpaste could be linked to wailing guitars and buttery beats.
It was a matter of time before the whores sold what little soul they had remaining in the interest of additional airtime. While most big-name stars said no to commercial licensing, Genesis and Eric Clapton saw nothing wrong with timing a television ad campaign with a single release. Never mind the fact that at the time one could not escape either of these acts, particularly Genesis and their awful lead singer Phil Collins. They didn’t need the additional airplays when their videos were already in heavy rotation on MTV.
In recent years, however, the majority of television ads have utilized relatively unknown indie acts. I wasn’t so troubled by this trend. Obviously, this is partly due to the fact that I enjoyed the majority of these tunes. But there was also the reality that with MTV no longer playing videos and the shrinking of commercial radio playlists, this was the only avenue for many struggling artists to get their music heard. Plus, the infusion of a bit of cash kept a lot of these acts out on the road. The money was peanuts compared to what major acts demanded, but was a jackpot for bands used to nabbing little more than beer and gas money in their low-budget national tours.
In recent months, however, so-called superstars are again being courted by the corporations. Around the time that the baseball playoffs began, a truck company began airing a commercial featuring a truly awful John Mellencamp tune. While Mellencamp has had a few listenable songs, “This Is Our Country” is everything that’s wrong with the man’s body of work. Mellencamp has always felt that he was a combination of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen, and this horrid wannabe “This Land Is Your Land” is chock full of clich├ęs.
Ok, I realize most of you are saying, “what’s the big deal”? You’re right; I shouldn’t be so bothered. My problem isn’t so much the existence of this dreck, but the fact that for the past six weeks you cannot watch a sporting event without hearing this at least once during every commercial break. Quite often it would even be played twice. Since the auto company sponsoring the song was a main advertiser for Major League Baseball, we even had to endure a live performance before Game 1 of the World Series. John, please just go back to the state fair circuit.
This past weekend, the Mellencamp commercial was joined by another ad that I never need to hear again. Don’t get me wrong; Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” is one of the greatest hard rock songs of all time, particularly the intro guitar riff utilized in this ad. But do I need to hear it over 15 times in a three-hour football game? Or God only knows how many times during a lazy afternoon and evening of sports? C’mon! I’d have a hard time even hearing a Replacements track that many times in one day.
When I’m elected dictator, one of my first moves (besides banning reality programs and entertainment news shows) will be to limit the number of airs for any commercial. We get it; X auto company has a new gigantic hemi-powered (whatever that is) four-wheel drive truck, and it’s powerful, edge-y, and can pick up chicks. I got that concept midway through the first quarter; by the beginning of the second half these companies were simply added to my ever-expanding boycott list. Congrats, Wal-Mart, you’ve got some new company!


Popular Posts