Everybody complains about ads, but ads are nothing more than a reflection of ourselves. There are boobs in that hamburger ad because we have demonstrated that boobs make us buy hamburgers. The companies and their ad agencies are doing nothing more than giving us what we demand.
And that's what makes the following ad campaigns so goddamned disturbing. They're clearly made with the assumption that lots and lots of us are, at heart, terrible human beings.
"Buy an SUV to Please Your Awful, Spoiled Kid"
Everyone in America knows the intolerable little bastard in these car ads. For many of us, the first time we saw one of his commercials was the first time we legitimately wanted to punch a child in the face.
Let's go, lawmakers. There are amendments to write.
Don't get me wrong, the "horrible, spoiled child" character has shown up in commercials for decades ... as the villain. Before, the whole point was to see the little shit get his comeuppance (usually using the product being sold in the ad). Not here.
No, these ads are based around this entitled little jackoff being embarrassed of his parents because of what they drive. He refers to them as "lame," and is ashamed of their very existence ... unless they spend $35,000 on a Highlander so that he can show his face around his equally entitled douchebag friends. Warning: This commercial will make you set something you love on fire. Put your cat outside before clicking the play button.
It's not enough that he lives in a neighborhood of some of the wealthiest people you're ever likely to meet. Or that his parents seem to just put up with his bullshit (there's a distinct lack of bruises on his face). No, he won't be happy until he gets to ride around in a vehicle that costs more than the average yearly income of most people I know. And he's what, like, eight-years old?
"Some day I will use this to run over the homeless."
But it gets even worse as his parents give in. In another commercial, he says, "I know what you're thinking: 'Cool parents,' right? It's a new thing. They used to be total dorks." He talks about how he changed them into real people by getting them to buy a Highlander -- because it's a common practice among adults to take the advice of an eight-year-old on a $35,000 purchase. And then changing everything else about their life.
Including throwing away their family goddamn portrait.
Don't bother telling me that this is all just a joke -- I know that. But behind that joke, the central selling point is absolutely that you should buy this vehicle, not because it's practical or a good value or reliable or any of the other reasons you should take on a $600 monthly car payment -- but because you'll otherwise lose the respect of the type of people who will judge you based on what you drive. Therefore it assumes that we, the viewer, want the respect from shallow cock holsters.
And the fact that the ads were successful enough to spawn follow-ups says they're right.
"Our Phones Will Eliminate All Human Empathy"
In this line of cell phone ads, we start with a couple sitting down to lunch as the woman breaks up with her boyfriend via text, email, Facebook and a call. She smiles gleefully, oblivious to his feelings, telling him not to worry about the messages because they didn't cost her any extra money to send. I dunno -- maybe he beat her or something and she just finally lost the ability to feel empathy.
Or maybe he should beat her, right there on camera.
But that would be the best-case scenario because at least that would make her the good guy. She's become empowered, and finally setting straight the wrongs that life has dealt her. At least that would justify her actions and make her somewhat likable. But judging from that guy's face, I'm guessing this isn't the case.
"Can ... can we still bone?"
But Sprint isn't satisfied with having just one callous demon representing their company. In case you missed the black, seething indifference from that character, they created a doctor who is breaking the news to an athlete that he's out for the season. Something that could potentially end his career.
"I want to say something more insulting, but it's a commercial."
Same thing here. The athlete says that he just got the doctor's email with the bad news, and the Antichrist of emotional sterility responds with, "Oh, don't worry about that. I just switched to Sprint so I get unlimited email." When he asks what that means, the doctor responds, "It means I'm dropping you from my fantasy team, that's for sure." And he's the one we're supposed to empathize with.
And if that wasn't enough, this self-centered cocksucker ends the commercial with, "Relax, it's not costing me any extra" and slaps that poor bastard's shattered knee.
Again, it's played for laughs, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what the selling point is here. In these ads it's always the customer who's 100 percent in the wrong, the victim is always blameless and enduring some kind of tragedy. And in every case, the customer's dickish indifference is due to his Sprint phone.
This is different from, say, the ads where the dude steals some Bud Light because Bud Light is so amazing that it tempts an honest man to theft. That actually makes sense in the commercial universe. Here, there's nothing connecting the awesomeness of the phone to the dickish behavior. It just exists. "Our phone will turn you into a dick, we don't know why. It just will."
So what's the point, unless it's appealing to people who like the prospect of being more of a dick than they are now? And that lots of us fall into that category?
"Our Soft Drink Will Make You Good at Lying."
So you can start to see the point. It's not just that these ads exist, it's what they say about us as a people. They're obviously working, or they wouldn't still be paying multi-millions of dollars to produce them -- some of these campaigns have been running for years, across multiple ads. Have we all really become such unbearable twats that we look at this ...
... and think, Yeah. I totally identify with those guys. I want to buy what they buy. That's a commercial about a guy at a job interview. The hallway is lined with potential employees, all awaiting their turn. The first guy goes in, and when the door shuts, starts screaming and making it sound like he's getting his ass kicked ... knocking shit off of the shelves and destroying the office.
You have a phone, dipshit. Call security.
One by one, all of the other interviewees leave until there's just one guy left.
This incompetent waste.
It turns out that the guy pretending to be beaten up was his friend, driving off all of the competition because they knew that this turd was no match for respectable, educated adults. His only chance at securing a job was if there was literally nobody else in the world interviewing for it.
Note to interviewer: When you call security, tell them that he's armed.
But wait, it gets worse. In another one, they trick a bar full of the stupidest, drunkest people on the planet into thinking that the world is coming to an end so that their friend can bone some chick right there on the bar floor.
It's made very clear at the beginning of the commercial that the woman wants nothing to do with this pulsating cockwad, as she doesn't even let him finish his offer to buy her a drink. It is a painfully clear "no." So the guy's friends, who are set up in the back with video cameras and a makeshift news set, broadcast a live feed onto the bar's television, proclaiming that an asteroid is about to hit the Earth, and there is only a few minutes to live.
Remember when I said it gets worse? Here comes that.
Nobody questions the fact that there is a camera in space, following and filming the asteroid as it blasts towards the planet at 25 kilometers-per-second. Everyone loses their shit and riots, but of course the guys don't care about the massive property damage and potential injuries because their friend is about to pound some hot ass in public.
"I get horny when imminent death arises. Nail me, you worthless turd."
And he does. After his orgasm inside a panicked and emotionally scarred supermodel, he leaves her and goes to the back room to high five his friends and dance. And drink Pepsi Max in celebration.
So once more, getting the product has nothing to do with their goal. If they'd been setting up the complicated scam to score some delicious, refreshing Pepsi Max, then that just puts it right into the same well-worn format as Barney stealing Fruity Pebbles from Fred. No, the message instead is that this soft drink will give you the ability to lie your way to success in the job market and to deceive emotionally vulnerable women into sex on a sticky barroom floor.