More Bitching About Commercials

Commercials aren’t exactly meant to be be enjoyable, but I’ve always appreciated ones that are particularly witty or clever. One that I find especially effective are the “home invasion” series of ads from Orkin. Here’s a sample:

These spots obviously play on our fears of unwanted pests infiltrating our house, but unlike those thoroughly creepy Broadview security commercials, they use mild humor rather than overwrought sensationalism to dramatize those concerns. Both ads are meant to unnerve you, but I’ve always found Orkin’s to be more effective; it’s probably that low subliminal hum on the soundtrack that does the trick, or the insects’ insidious manner.

But, like almost everything in pop culture, Orkin can’t leave a good thing alone. Here’s a more recent ad from the series:

Still creepy, but not the same kind of creepy as before. Whereas the earlier spots were plausible–at least in the context of the commercials in which they’re presented; it’s not much of a stretch to believe a second-hand couch might be filled with ants–everything just seems wrong with this one. Are there really significant numbers of people with hot-tub related pest problems? There’s an easy, crass humor here (“Are we dipping skinny?” Really, Orkin?) that doesn’t jibe with the other ads and, in my opinion, cheapens the lot.

Eh, what am I bitching about the artistic merits of commercials for? As noted earlier, they’re supposed to be more memorable than entertaining; and in that respect I suppose the hot tub commercial sufficiently serves its purpose. It’s just that it’s refreshing to see creativity and originality in a medium that rarely demands it, so it’s a bit sad when it’s compromised.

On the flip side, I was pleased to see Dr. Pepper’s recent commercial was an improvement over others of its ilk, even if reaches a little to justify the “Dr.”

Funny stuff, but I’d have much prefered to see Tony Romo take that hit. That would have been classic.


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