Monday, August 13, 2012


"That's not ironic enough, and it doesn't shock the squares!"

Ragu Ad?
An update on the Romney Causes Cancer ad: the Obama administration's defense is now "well it only ran in small markets, not that many people saw the ad."

Yes, fewer people saw the ad than have seen the corrections, controversy and explanations why its such a pile of trash. If there's ever been a depiction of the modern media environment, this is it. Advertising isn't what it used to be; get something viral and its like a supercharged version of word of mouth. People advertise it for you. Run ads on TV and people tend to skip them.

When you do actually watch modern advertising its hard to avoid the impression that these ad companies are not so much trying to get customers to buy the products as they are trying to get companies to buy the ad company's service. They aren't advertising a product, they're advertising how clever and visually dynamic an ad they can produce in order to get awards and more ad contracts. These guys are Mad Men, they're Amway; not selling a product so much as a desire to buy their services.

But that's what advertisers are trying to do: not get you to watch the ads, but to talk about the ads. They're hoping if you say "did you see the latest Ragu ad with the kid who walks in on his parents having sex?" People will remember Ragu. The purpose isn't to sell the product or even tell you anything about it. They want their ads to go viral so they are making them as weird, memorable, and shocking as possible, as surprising and surreal that people talk about them. The more ironic and strange, the better.

The problem is, people don't talk about the product or want to buy it because the ad goes viral. They talk about the ad and make fun of it. Remember the Clint Eastwood ad about Chevrolet and America? Nobody talked about how they wanted to get a Chevy, they argued about whether or not GM was a failure and what a jerk Eastwood was for doing the ad. The ad company probably got a ton of work, but did it sell any Chevys?

So the Obama for president ad got them plenty of attention, but did it make anyone want to vote for him? I'd guess that for each person who saw the ad and fell for its lies there was at least one who heard about how it was junk and said "fine, not him then."

1 comment:

Eric said...

I though the Rago commercials were hillarious. The kid walking in on his parents was the weakest one (I think there were four all together that carried this theme)... one made a very poignant reference to kid's Participation Awards (the kid's sister asks him what it is, he says, "It means I lost.").

But while I was emailing and joking with friends over the Ragu commercials, somebody sent the message: "Ragu... their commercials are now better than their product." That's what these companys don't seem to get, nobody is going to buy their product just because the commercial is hillariously funny.