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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

Changing Sleep Patterns

June 7, 2002

First off, I'm travelling to Nashville next weekend. With the California trip called off, it gave me a chance to return to my old hometown for a weekend.

It's not all that easy to go from sleeping during the day to sleeping at night. Especially when you've spent most of the past 3+ years sleeping while the sun is up outside. So my attempt to sleep for a "few hours" this afternoon turned into a 6-hour nap. Oops. The two Devil Rays tickets and parking pass for tonight's first ever Devil Rays/Padres game sit on the sofa in the front room unused. Damn.

The irony about that game was that since I couldn't go to San Diego today, San Diego came to me (in the form of the Padres).

As I watch the Lakers/Nets game, I wonder: what's the point of having a blimp at a basketball game? At least at an outdoor football game you have 50,000 to 100,000 fans who can look up in the sky and see your company logo. Plus you can always have those networks try "innovative" things like blimp-cam shots (you know, the ones where you can't see a damn thing going on down on the field). But at a basketball game, the blimp is good for scenic shots... and that's about it. Aerial shot of the outside of the Staples Center... ummm, am I supposed to be overwhelmed?

In a related note, why hasn't Blimpie subs jumped in on the blimp act? You'd think that would be a natural decision. Instead, they spend an ungodly amount of money putting on those stupid commercials with the parents talking with the baby, and the baby wants the sandwich. I mentioned this on Sunday, but that ad is just dumb. Between that and those god-awful Subway commercials they have on now, the sub sandwich market is managing to annoy me and insult my intelligence at the same time.

One company that manages to put on consistently agitating advertisements is Wal-Mart. Whoever is responsible for those ad campaigns deserves a good beating. With that in mind, here are the levels of bad TV advertising, as I see them:

The Bad Local TV Ad

By their very nature, local TV ads tend to be poorly done. Why? Because companies have limited budgets, and don't have a half million dollars to produce a slick commercial. They have more like $500. Sometimes they're boring but at least get the point across. You see this alot of times in restaurant commercials. Poorly lit shots of food, or people working, or eating, or whatever.

Then you have the embarassingly bad local TV ads. There are some in my personal hall of fame on this one. One is the "Lone Ranger" in Nashville, one of those sleazy check cashing joints where they hit you with some ungodly fees for the privledge of holding your check X number of days. Anyway, the Lone Ranger ads play to the lowest common denominator, with some really bad lip synching on poorly rewritten songs, and just an overall sleazy feel. It's hard to articulate just how bad it is... but if you saw it, odds are you'd be inclined to not do business with them. Unless perhaps your intelligence just doesn't cut the mustard. Then there's the "I Don't Lie To You" car dealership ads out of Starkville, MS. My brother Matt told me about them, and I got to see it for myself in October 2000. The concept of a shady-looking used car salesman saying "I don't lie to you" with a Mississippi drawl and a swindling tint in his eyes makes me say.... hmm, I think I'll pass. Much worse than the "But You're Gonna Have To (Haff Tuh) Call Me Now" car sales guy in Nashville, which may be second-ballot worthy of the bad ad hall of fame (at least in the shady car sales wing). I'm sure there are other bad ones out there that I've never had the misfortune to see.

The Stupid National TV Ad

This is a category more for ads that are just dumb than anything. Not inherently irritating or annoying, but just ill-planned and ineffective, and bad enough to not get lobbed into the "boring" category where maybe 80-85% of ads fall. The Blimpie ad goes here. Also ads like the Stetson Blue ad where the guy going water skiing wipes dandriff off his shoulder, so the stupid woman in the boat pulling him sees it and shouts "Go! Go!" like she's got to piss or something, and the driver takes off, pulling the hapless skiier across the water flipping and flying out of control. It's not overtly agitating, but just dumb and insulting to the intelligence of anyone watching.

The Horrible, "Change The Channel When It Comes On" National TV Ad

You know what I'm talking about, and you may have your own choices. There are several Wal-Mart ads that fall in this category. You may have seen them. Often it starts with some silly music playing and the spotlighting of some phony family shopping at the store. Makes me want to throw up. And the men in those commercials are always pussy-whipped, or at least act like few men I know (or would want to know). I'm waiting for the ad where the guy says "F*** this women's clothes shopping crap, I'm going to buy a 12-pack of Coors. And some Doritos. And go watch the goddamn Steelers game." That's what I'm talking about.

Other ads in this category include many tampon commercials, that god-awful Cottonelle wipes commercial, and the "government knows best" spots where your tax dollars are used to fund government propoganda. Absolutely horrible.

Want some good ads? Anheiser-Busch consistently puts top-notch ads on the air for Budweiser and Bud Light. Everything from the "I Love You Man" guy to the "It's Not So Bad" spots to classics like the "Make It a Lite -- No, a Bud Light". And the Holiday Inn commercials with the guy who lives at home with his parents. Now that's genius in advertising...

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