The Advertising Industry’s New Secret Weapon

pmbThe showcase of Super Bowl 2016 ads confirmed that advertising agency executives are in favor of legalized marijuana.


I’m all for the creative anecdote of “think outside the box,” but let’s at least orbit the box from within our galaxy. I haven’t slept restfully in a week since PuppyMonkeyBaby was introduced to my psyche.

Thanks a lot Mountain Dew. Yet another reason for me to question your taste.

As a former advertising major, I even understand the strategy behind that concept and I’m still baffled.

In my college course “The History of Advertising” I learned the three go-to components to capture consumer attention are babies, animals, and sex. Sorry folks, but it’s been scientifically proven. We like to think we’re an evolved, intelligent species, but as mere humans we’re suckers for the cute, cuddly, and carnal.

Now that you know the advertising industry’s dirty little secret, you’ll recognize as I do when advertisers use those three vehicles to promote something other than applicable products like diapers, dog food, or drawers. It’s because the creative team’s imagination is tapped so they resorted to gimmicks. Example: Carl’s Jr.’s shameless use of bust lines and booties to sell burgers in their campaign a few years ago.

Hence, the Mountain Dew commercial was a humorous play on combining some cliché yet irresistible baits as if it created the ultimate endearing critter, rather than a creepy monstrosity which has now replaced the cast of The Wizard of Oz in my worst nightmares.

Heinz, Marmot, and Doritos all played the cute animal card, combined with the bizarre, in their ads. Hot-dog-dressed wiener dogs stampeding toward condiment-bottle-costumed people, a dude/varmint camping bromance, and piggy-back mutts sporting a trench coat and fedora to grocery shop in disguise, respectively.

Another head-scratcher ad was “Avocados from Mexico.” It had its clever moments—one alien zapping another with eye lasers for double dipping in the guacamole at a futuristic Human’s Museum—but how it pertained to a Latino vegetable is unclear.

Don’t even get me started with the Steven Tyler “Portrait” Skittles ad. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Tyler himself was consulted for concepts and he drew inspiration from hallucinations brought on by something much stronger than weed.

Bud Light’s election campaign parody received praise as a humorous highlight. But I didn’t find it that funny when crass comedians Seth Rogan and Amy Schumer used “beer” as a national campaign platform. It’s not any less ludicrous than what some real candidates are promoting. And speaking of Budweiser, Peyton Manning made it very clear, even as he hugged his babies, that going to Disneyland was not his Super Bowl victory celebration preference.

There was Jeff Goldblum riding a grand piano up a skyscraper, Willem Dafoe standing in as Marilyn Monroe, sheep singing classic Queen, a bag of chips inducing pre-term labor, and a cheeky beer tap handle insulting an aimless, middle-aged deadbeat who’s drinking the handle’s brand, which seemed to send a counterproductive message, “Drink our beer and become a loser.”

My analysis of all this is I think advertisers are integrating a new go-to component to capture our attention: weirdness. Let’s just hope somebody doesn’t try to integrate all four chump enticements into something like KittenBeyonceSpongeBobBaby.

I’ll never sleep again.


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