There are three kinds of commercials: (1) Good commercials where the product is both memorable and favorably displayed. (2) Good commercials where afterward you cannot remember, or cannot figure out, what product or service was being advertised. (3) Crap.
(2) and (3) are not successful ads, but (2) does have the virtue of making the Super Bowl more fun and can win awards -- and sometimes provide our culture with memorable lines.
Then there are these two campaigns by people who Should Know Better. Especially in the weeks coming into the Big Corporate Wall Street Meltdown. Remember, the company which implodes next could be your own.
I Don't Think So
First up is American Express Gold Business Card for American Express Open. Or something like that. A man and a woman are doing a business meal with a group of Germans. We are led to believe that the woman owns the business. The man offers to pay the bill -- and produces a superhero credit card. The Germans talk amongst themselves in German -- using words which pretty much translate into English like "kindergarten" -- and feeling uncomfortable dealing with someone who uses a superhero credit card, they bail. The man says, "That went well." The woman pays the bill with her business AMEX card.
Okay -- first of all who the hell cares what card you use? Lord knows the restaurant only cares that they get paid and the Germans were going to argue about how they were getting a free meal? But wait, what Life Lesson was the woman trying to teach the man by showing him her shiny gold business AMEX card with her business name on it? The Germans were already gone and she just paid the bill instead of him. He's still thinking it all went well.
Folks, there is only ONE credit card which one can realistically be a snob about -- it's also from American Express and it's called the Centurion card. It used to be rumored to be black with like no markings and have an unlimited credit limit. You don't apply for it. If you "want" one, you're not rich enough. End of story.
No, You Didn't Say That
But then American Express pulls off a SECOND even more insidious and offensive commercial. This guy goes to buy an airline ticket at the airport check-in counter for a business meeting in San Francisco and produces a credit card with kittens on it. (War kittens? No, regular kittens -- baby cats.) The clerk at the airline desk signals for the TSA goons to come over and drag this guy away.
AMEX, you're not going there, are you? Suggesting that you'll be on a terrorist watch list for a credit card with kittens? ARE YOU INSANE?
First of all, suggest something like that and someone in the government will decide It's A Good Idea. Second of all, ARE YOU INSANE? Air travel is a nightmare enough without suggesting your credit card is going to make it worse. Now all the terrorists are going to apply for AMEX cards -- good luck with that, guys.
Clearly this ad was designed to go up against Capitol One ads featuring design your own cards. Plus thousands of other designer credit cards from Visa, MasterCard, etc. Dumb.
But You're Not Alone
The other week I saw an ad for Microsoft Windows Mojave. Or something like that. Turns out these geniuses spent too much time drinking coffee and decided to try the "we've gone into this fine restaurant and changed their coffee with Folgers Crystals, and the pasta was delivered by Pizza Hut." Yup. Windows Mojave which really impressed the test panel was of course, wait for it, Windows Vista.
Okay, let's start counting the ways in which this is crap. First of all, this isn't people doing real work on their own computers -- you know, the environment where many Microsoft products don't realistically work when they are going to prove troublesome. Second, I can't imagine such a test would be on an underpowered $499 Circuit City special. Third -- this is supposed to be... what? Microsoft Windows Mojave Titanium Wunderkind Accelerated Pro Consumer Version With Breath Mints 2009? Folks, there ain't just one Vista out there.
And yeah, Microsoft, this stuff matters. Watch those "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" ads.
Dumb. Stupid. No, worse than that -- the Mojave ads are INSULTING.
Oh No, You Didn't Waste My Time, Did You?
Then there was the Jerry Seinfeld meeting Bill Gates in the shoe store commercial. It's nice that now he's stepped down from CEO, that Bill is finding something to do with his time. He's even sort of creepy clever cute in this ad -- everything we always imagined a Bill Gates cartoon character to be.
But wait, this was part of a series. It went on. What are Jerry and Bill doing living in some family's cramped house and stealing their giraffe? Bill's out of touch with mainstream America? Okay, I can buy that. And it's funny to see him admit it on national TV. But this is still a type (2) commercial ad -- see top of this posting.
And then today I heard on WOOD-AM news radio that this $300,000,000 ad campaign, which paid Jerry Seinfeld $10,000,000, has been canceled because, wait for it, the ads weren't selling more Vista computers.
No shit, Sherlock! Unlike the deceptive Mojave ad, which actually used the words "Microsoft" and "Vista", we barely even saw the word "Microsoft" in the BG/JS ads -- just Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. And you know, every time I see Jerry Seinfeld I immediately slap my forehead and think about Microsoft operating systems -- the man just exudes technical competence.
More to the point, the ad series never got to the point -- if it was ever planning to -- or if they showed that ad on like Monday Night Football and I didn't see it.
The general consensus of the news guys on WOOD-AM was, why didn't Microsoft spend $300,000,000 to fix Vista and/or give us Windows XP Pro back -- which is what the consumers WANT.
Stupid. Don't go there.
So There You Have It...
Two companies that have irritated Dr. Phil's sensibilities and I hope they take the heat for their stupidity.
I, for one, am never going to buy another copy of the German Superhero Edition of American Express Vista Gold Open OS at an airport from Jerry Seinfeld ever again.