We’ll Be Back Right After These Messages…

Published in The Ferndale Record-Journal, March 31, 2010

You know that somebody did something right when you remember a TV commercial—even if it’s one you dislike. They got your attention and that was the point.

Here are a few that have rattled my cage lately. See if you agree.

First, the bad news.

Jack-In-The-Box’s enormous, white, bulbous head is starting to really annoy me. At first it was a little creepy, then it was a little clever, then I got used to it. Now, it’s time to mothball the novelty head and get fresh material.

But was it ever really that great of a marketing coup to begin with? The advertisers would have us believe that Jack is just a regular guy, married to a woman with a normal noggin. Really? Face it. These commercials have always been unnatural and a little perverse.

And while the brand name is unmistakable (mission accomplished), the ads in no way have made me more of a Jack-In-The-Box customer than I was before. I’ve visited this franchise twice in four years.

Next up are those superb Dos Equis beer commercials about “The Most Interesting Man In The World.” Even if you happen to just hear one of these ads from the next room, you get to the TV in a hurry to see what they’re talking about.

The narrative is classic: “His blood smells like cologne.” “He once had an awkward moment just to see how it feels.” “He lives vicariously through himself.” “His personality is so magnetic he is unable to carry credit cards.”

After a series of video clips showing the hero engaging in wildly intriguing situations with rugged and beautiful people, he’s seated at a table with adoring companions. He looks up and says, “I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.”

Then, with that swarthy Latino accent, almost at a whisper, he purrs directly into the camera, “Stay thirsty, my friends.”

I don’t drink, and this advertisement doesn’t make me want to. It does, however, make me a little thirsty. Not to mention a tad bit curious about The Most Interesting Man In The World.

Well done, Dos Equis.

Finally, here’s the one that caught me off guard—in a good way.

It was a simple evening in front of the tube, and out of nowhere, The Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane” started up. Instead of writhing dancers, black leather, or motorcycles I looked up to see soup and crackers. That’s right.

Bowls of thick soups in a prism of colors, splashing over the top in high, vertical peaks as perfect, square saltines rain in from above—all in slow motion.

An uppercut of marketing brilliance, this commercial had me mesmerized. Was it Nabisco’s Premium Saltines? Was it the raucous music set to mere crackers plunging into creamy tomato bisque?

I don’t know, but whatever it was, and without realizing what had just happened, the combination made me hungry for—you guessed it—soup and crackers.

Here’s the deal. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I do, it’s fun to see well-crafted commercials that demand my attention because of their creativity.

Jack, I beg you to hang up the giant cranium. And Dos Equis and Nabisco, you’re the clear winners for now. Keep ‘em coming.

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