Hulu Commercial Round-Up: Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches Edition
By Dom Sinacola· Oct 01, 2013
As 2013’s Fall Season swings into full play, there are exactly two things which television advertisements feel it is crucial to inform the American public of: 1) You are one year closer to death and your body is failing you, and 2) You’ll need an automobile to get you to the hospital at some point, probably. If it’s ironic that a commercial on Hulu for Weight Watchers so closely accompanies a commercial for a $9.99 artery-rupturing trough from KFC or a platter at Outback Steakhouse that guarantees unlimited shrimp, then it is irony that is lost on everybody. After all, the faster you drive the more successfully you can escape death.
So, let’s reflect on some recent commercials as we all fly towards the finish line in this Death Race we call life:
Weight Watchers: “The Power”
I’m not sure if Weight Watchers comparing its fitness regiment to witchcraft is such a successful marketing strategy, especially when the world surrounding these charmed women seems to be disturbed by their lack of tact and flagrant abuse of “the power.” It takes only one split-second shot of the guy behind the counter at the pizza parlor, aghast as he witnesses this gorgeous young women who obviously has no need to fuck with Weight Watchers on her phone magically rearrange the pizza toppings he just slaved over to her liking, as if she is somehow immune to such things as “menu” and “physics” and “politeness.” This somehow strikes the same chord of distaste with me as when I smell someone smoking a joint out in public, downtown, on a busy street. It’s not that I don’t want marijuana to be legalized so that people can smoke it in public as openly as they would cigarettes, it’s that it’s currently not legal, and it won’t be legal until those legally voting (racist) citizens who still see it as a scourge are convinced that it’s not just another accoutrement of the criminal sect of American society. Some douchenozzle nursing a spliff in Pioneer’s Square will only encourage those already convinced of marijuana’s evil that it will continue to be abused by the most unsavory of elements in our society, no matter what those liberal news outlets say. Same with magic powers: until they’re widely accepted, let’s use them responsibly and with noble purpose, lest the tide of public opinion turn against what could, in the end, prove to be a boon to mankind.
Also, just eat a pepperoni and fuck off.
KFC: “6-pc. Deal”
“Now that’s smart!”
Smart? No, not really. More like “economically pragmatic.” More food for less money makes sense when one doesn’t take into consideration the quality or kind of food, and if only our bodies subsisted off of empiricism in the first place! Mostly, KFC just hopes that you are like most people and stop all cogent thought at the basic equation that more of something for less money than you were originally paying for less of that same something is automatically Good. Like capital-“G” Good. KFC is selling us the Platonic ideal of Thriftiness. More KFC for less money is on the same plane of existence as if you were a farmer purchasing fertilizer and you had to decide between two fertilizer vendors, one who sold cheap, standard fertilizer at a great price, and one who sold some real quality fertilizer but at a higher price, thus making it more expensive to get less fertilizer than if you went with the former fertilizer vendor. The economy sucks, so I won’t fault a farmer for just buying the biggest pile of shit he can at the cheapest price, but that doesn’t take into account the fact that some piles of shit are just better than other piles of shit. Now that’s smart: one who can discern between piles of shit.
Outback Steakhouse: “Steak & Unlimited Shrimp”
In order to sell their latest $14.99 deal for a platter which includes award-winning (care of Zagat’s 2012, so you know it must be good) sirloin and as much shrimp as you can stuff down your fat drooling face hole, Outback Steakhouse rolls out the big guns, which essentially means throwing as much vaguely Australian shit into a commercial as is possible given whatever the typical American attention span amounts to. And assuming that most Americans get the extent of their knowledge about Australia from Foster’s commercials—which, side note: I know to be true, because I work in an office with an Australian transplant who loves beer and hates Foster’s, and also with xenophobic uber-conservative old white men who forget that they’ve asked this Australian person is he loves Foster’s, which they say with a cute smirk to which the Australian person replies that Foster’s is horse piss which no self-respecting Australian would ever drink—then it makes sense that for most Americans, Australia is a place characterized by what Australia exports, and what Australia exports is what Australia doesn’t want or have any use for. So, ironically, Foster’s is American for beer, because it resembles more of what any fuck-heel in America would drink than what an Australian person would.
Same goes for the “outback” as portrayed in this ad: a desert-like dreamland where air conditioning and sous chefs protect hapless white collar white people from the more unforgiving aspects of the Australian wilderness, such as crocodiles and not having enough shrimp. That there is no Outback Steakhouse on Planet Earth that resembles this one isn’t the problem here; it’s that the guy who ordered the steak platter is drinking a big glass of white wine. Which, funny enough, is probably what a typical Australian thinks is inherently American: idiotic food/wine pairings and abject fear of Nature.
Advil: “White Box”
You know what will truly stop your headache in its tracks? A nuclear reactor inside of a pill. If the folks at Advil expect any other interpretation of their “ion core technology,” they should probably patent a phrase that is less reminiscent of the tools of the apocalypse. Not that this commercial has anything its sights besides the full eradication of all feeling—and not just pain—even though it’s “PAIN” that is exploded like the brick wall the Kool-Aid Man bursts through. Violence is met with violence, pain with pain, and in Advil’s greater ken, we should expect that assorted feelings are treated similarly: LOVE vs. LOVE; GLEE vs. GLEE; TREPIDATION vs. TREPIDATION; whatever. In a perfect world, Advil just wants to assault the fuck out of your head until the sensation is so standard and unrelenting you can’t tell the difference between pain and relief.
Claritin D: “Claritin Clear”
I remember back when Claritin was a prescription medication that I had assigned to my 10-year-old self proceeding an excruciating series of allergy tests, but now it seems more and more synonymous with “over-the-counter allergy medication”? No? Well, it’s the truth, which is why Claritin no longer does much when you take it besides maybe stave off some of the worst of your allergy symptoms for a few hours or so. But “clear” you up for 10 days? 17? 22? It must be why these people call themselves “Claritin Clear” as opposed to, y’know, just “clear.” “Claritin Clear” is probably like “Baldwin Fat” in that it’s a diluted kind of fatness, like a stepping stone on the way towards being purely, unadulteratedly “fat.” And hey, I have some advice for that woman who has 17 days of being “Claritin Clear.” How ‘bout if you want to be actually clear you should maybe STOP BURYING YOUR FACE IN A WRITHING PILE OF PUPPY DANDER?
The one consoling aspect of this commercial is that Johnny Nash is still getting royalty checks. It’s like when you hear “O.P.P.” in some terrible place (a.k.a. somewhere that plays “O.P.P.”) and you think, “Huh, I wonder if Naughty By Nature is ever shamed by the fact that they’ve paid for everything in their life through one song, and that one song is ‘O.P.P.’” But then you realize that they have more money than you.
Chevrolet: “Siri in the Chevy Sonic”
We’ll just pass clear by the claim that Chevy’s Siri-hailing button is the “button to end all buttons,” because I don’t want to live in a world where there is only need for one button, and that button is connected to the asinine farce of “access” that the creepy Siri is supposed to represent.
Really, the most concerning facet of this commercial is the woman who is driving the Sonic. While I do appreciate how she’s not texting and driving, she is exactly the kind of person I’d throw in the way of a towering battlemech during the first wave of attacks once robots gain self-awareness, all Skynet-style. Because asking Siri to check your texts (from fucking Chad mind you, as if they couldn’t come up with a name less connotative of bland yuppiness) or turn up the air condition a few degrees is one thing, but asking Siri to tell you a joke?! Are you that fucking bored, Betty or Dottie or Cindy or whatever? Granted, I want to hear the punchline to the “Two iPhones walk into a bar” scenario—and boy do I hope that the punchline draws a parallel between an establishment for alcohol service and the bars at the top of my phone whose numbers rarely, due to AT&T’s coverage, surpass two—but when my life has gotten so low that I’m turning to Siri for laughs I will truly know that I have reached rock bottom and that the robots have already won.
Mercedes Benz: “Soul”
There isn’t much to say about this competently made, star-studded affair; it follows a pretty cut-rate “sell one’s soul to the devil” arc, twisted cleanly at the end to emphasize just how surprisingly “cheap” the company’s new model is. And there’s Usher, being all smiley and Usher-y. But what about Willem Dafoe? What about that row of talons he’s tapping on the table, waiting for this wiener with the River Cuomo haircut to make up his fucking mind already? Basically Benz just gave Dafoe a bunch of coke nails and were like, “Sweet, good enough,” and then sent him off to do his Dafoe thing. And do you think that secretly Dafoe was grinning to himself, all “This isn’t the first time I’ve had fingernails like this”? Maybe next time we try a little bit harder to make Willem Dafoe seem like Beelzebub as opposed to just himself from 20 years ago.