Sunday, January 4, 2009

Take Care Of Your Beaver

Straight from the files of "Who Thought This Was A Good Idea In The First Place?" we have the Advertising Standards Bureau in Australia releasing their list of the most complained about commercials of 2008. Apparently, they have a bureau to take care of ad complaints in Australia? Or something? It's hard to tell, the article in the The Daily Telegraph doesn't really elaborate a whole lot on what the agency does (probably because those in Australia are already fully aware of the purpose of such an organization and how to use it, judging from the number of complaints about TV ads that they've received). But it tells plenty about commercials that I never get to see because they're only aired in far away lands that I am not watching TV in. Unfortunate, I would say.

The ad that received the most complaints was an ad for the Kotex U tampon. Now I have never heard of the Kotex U. However, I did attend and graduate from the University of Utah which was almost always referred to as "The U". So, to have a tampon that goes by the same name as the college I went to...well, it's a bit unsettling really. But the complaints were not about confusion with public universities in Utah. No, not so much.

I'm all for humor in my advertisements. All for it. Bring it on! The more the merrier! But sometimes, your humor might only target such a small group of a population that your humor is being lost on the vast majority of those it was aimed at. That's not good. That's also the case here. The Kotex U people (who may or may not still be employed at this point) created a "...tampon ad showing a woman going about daily activities with a beaver in tow." A beaver? Like the one that plays chess with Abraham Lincoln in those sleep medication commercials? Sort of. Though, in the sleep med commercial, the beaver is really a beaver, that flat tailed, dam building, semi-aquatic rodent that is the largest rodent in North America. In the Kotex U commercial, beaver is explained by a voiceover that says, "You only have one of them, so look after it'' and featured the animal which viewers understood to be a reference to female genitalia. Wait. What? I kid not. The commercial is below. I swear.

There's the beaver having it's hair done! The beaver at lunch! The beaver sunbathing! The beaver getting it's nails done! And I say that's one pampered beaver! Someone, no, more than one someone thought that would be a good idea? For a TV ad? That would air? For people to see?! Look, it's funny as hell, but not exactly the best marketing strategy. What were they thinking?! OK, what were they thinking other than "That's pretty damn funny!"?? Good Lord, what came in second place? (And no, it wasn't a commercial for Kotex U with a cat instead of a beaver. They at least knew enough not to go there!)

Running a close second place and with no alluding to female genitalia whatsoever (and thank God for that!) we have "...a Domino's pizza ad in which a character named Many Toppins uses the made-up term "Supercalafreakinawesome'.' (Hey, thanks Daily Telegraph blokes, for telling us that "Supercalafreakinawesome" is a "made-up term". Did you really think we wouldn't get that on our own? Who do we look like? The Kotex U ad folks?) I didn't really think it was that bad, though the "Many Toppins" play on words there is kind of annoying. But, then again, I don't live in Australia and I wasn't subjected to seeing this ad all the live long day.

One of the 145 people who complained said "While `freakin' is not particularly terrible, on the ad, it sounds more like `friggin' and was repeated as such by my four-year old." (See, if I had received that complaint, my response would have been, "So, tell him to stop. What do you want me to do? You're the parent." That's just one of the many reasons I will never hold any sort of public office. I'm too damn reasonable that way.) So 'freakin' is OK, but 'friggin' is bad? She's all confused. 'Freakin' and 'friggin' are OK, it's "f*ck" that's bad. Moron.

The video of said "Supercalafreakingawesome" commercial is below. More so than complaining about the word itself, I'd like to know how many complained about "Many Toppins" there. He looks like George Foreman in drag! I guess I wasn't expecting "Many Toppins" to be a dude. But a dude he is! And with a fancy umbrella and a very smart hat, to boot! And that voice! If I had to hear that more than once during breaks in my Sunday football viewing schedule, I think I'd hang myself. But really, all they're trying to get you to do is put double the toppings on your pizza. How can you complain about that?

In third place was a billboard put up by the Advanced Medical Institute. It was one of three that was discontinued after "...being found in breach of the Australian Association of National Advertisers' code of ethics." Do tell! This bright yellow billboard with huge red letters asked the question, "WANT LONGER LASTING SEX?" and then had a number to call. (Who doesn't, is my question.) Although they were supposed to be removed, a lot of the billboards just had the word "sex" covered up with a big 'Censored' sticker, making the billboards look deliciously ridiculous, I'm sure. One of the complaints, according to someone who was listening to complaints, I assume, was that "In one case we heard that a six-year-old child asked his mother, `How long is it supposed to last?" Again, I ask, AND? So what? Before you answer that, hold on, because this gets better! The billboards were eventually replaced....with billboards that said "BONK LONGER". THAT was OK! "Want longer lasting sex" was not OK! I'm not sure if I like Australia a whole lot more right now or if I don't like Australia a whole lot more right now. It's one of those, but I don't know which one.

The chief executive at the ASB is a one Fiona Jolly (cute). The Jolly executive said that they received about 2350 complaints for more than 540 ads. That works out to about 4.3 complaints per ad. OH MY GOD! Are you freaking kidding me?!! You folks down there have an organization that is designed to deal with the less than five people who are going to bitch about anything and everything if they have an outlet to do so and even if they don't?!! Why are you pandering to those who make the lives of the rest of us (the ones without our head up our arse) difficult and oppressed?! At the very least, they make life a heck of a lot less fun with all of their complaining about anything they can!

Well, the ASB apparently encourages baseless bitching because according to the Jolly one, "This year we launched a public education campaign to highlight to people that there is somewhere they can raise their concerns about any advertising.'' Oh, great! Now you're actively seeking out complainers and whiners! Soon, all advertising will consist of just a very large font with a strongly worded message! The purpose of encouraging said bitching is because "...advertisers and brands needed to take complaints more seriously as consumers, particularly women, would just stop buying their products." I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that consumers, particularly women, might hate a particular ad more than they've ever hated anything before, but they're still going to buy those tampons! (And really, I'm not sure that I know any woman who is fond of any advertising for feminine products. There are certainly no men that are fond it it! We know what the products do. We don't need to be reminded all the time! Unless they're going to show me something I haven't seen before that does something that they've never done before, I'll pass, thanks!)

I understand that the ASB gives complainers a place to complain to, but I'm not sure what good it does. I guess in the case of the "ethics violation" for the longer bonking folks, there was something tangible to work with as far as what is and what is not allowed. I guess. (You can't have the word "sex", but you can have the word "bonk". Interesting. Granted, "bonk" is funnier, but I'm failing to see where "sex" is going to cause some sort of irreparable damage to someone. The word "sex". Not the actual act itself. We all know that can damage someone. A couple of thumps of the noggin on that headboard there can give you a concussion if you're not careful!) Does it just give the whiners a place to vent so they don't end up in a clock tower with a high powered rifle? Possibly. And if that's the case, then more power to 'em.

But I worry that they're going to get so concerned with what is and isn't "OK" that we're going to end up missing out on some realy funny stuff. Because let's face it, the best commercials, the ones that people are most likely to pay attention to and remember, are the ones that are funny. And if the rules get too stringent, we will end up missing out on commercials like the one for Bud Light below. This commercial was supposed to air during a Super Bowl (I can't remember which one) but was deemed unsuitable and would have violated the FCC standards for that sort of stuff. (FCC standards, by the way, seem to consist of no swearing and no nipples. Everything else is fair game.) Behold! The best Bud Light commercial you may have never seen!

Wasn't that just @#$%*&! awesome?

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