Sunday, March 13, 2011

When Commercials Go Bad

Local commercials have great lameness potential. Here and there we get a good one, like a recent one from our local ABC affiliate, KSPR, where kids amp up into grandiose slo-mo celebratory gestures when they find out school is cancelled. But more often, local commercials are a showcase for awkward theme songs, unfortunate local business owners and their spoiled kids.

One of the standouts in this category is one featuring a local lawer, Aaron Sachs. He does fine, but his son secretly steals the show. The blonde boy, who has the oddly piercing eyes of a Tazmanian Devil, is supposed to be doing homework for the camera. But if you watch closely, you see that he is doing his homework with manic, almost psychotic intent, like homeworking on methamphetamines. The father speaks calmly while his son spins just slightly out of control.

Even more subtle downfalls occur when the wording in local commercials gets weird. Upon entering a time of economic uncertainty, the market for gold and silver coins & jewelry has heated considerably. Here in Springfield, it must have reached a fever pitch, because the commercials for The Gold Exhange and R&K Coins are on a rampage. Of course they all promise "top dollar" in the buying and selling of your gold and silver. Any mention of "dental gold" tends to freak me out a little. Maybe it's just me, but it brings to mind people pulling their teeth out to get the riches within... maybe working a crown off with needlenose pliers. Of course there is the chance that they're appealing to those dentured senior citizens whose dental gold already resides away from the mandible. R&K Coins seems to confirm a pandering to old folks when they say, "We're not here to make a quick buck like some of those slick willies would have you believe." Aside from my suspicion that "a quick buck" is exactly what they would enjoy making, their use of the phrase "slick willies" seems like a heat-seeking missile aimed precisely at that retired segment of society that still revels in the impeachment of Bill Clinton.  

The latest local oddball commercial is for a store called Clothes Mentor. It's a weird name to begin with, suggesting a slightly bossy and intrusive role for the store, but the commercial insists on repeating the phrase "gently used clothing." My wife complained that she didn't like the phrase "gently used," so of course I thought about it later while driving. I decided that it seems odd to me, too. Something in the alchemy of word connotations brings to my poisoned brain images of a patient under sedation who gets molested by a doctor or dentist. I'm sure that's not what Clothes Mentor intended, but they sure choose weird wording. 

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