Writing Switch: Badvertising initiatives
Ad campaigns have evolved over the decades from meandering paragraphs read over the airwaves by the scratchy, transatlantic accent of some guy talking about corn flakes to now where every body wash commercial has to be weird and quirky and tongue-in-cheek. We imagine these client meetings involve a bunch of goofy people twiddling their thumbs and thinking aloud until genius strikes, so we’re pretty sure we deserve a spot at the table. This week, we pitch a few advertising spots we’d like to sell to you (and your kids).
SB: Imagine if you caught polio or leprosy (full discretion, I’m not a medical professional and don’t know if leprosy is cured via vaccine) and a doctor was like, “I can fix that.” What would you say?
Well, I’m not here to tell you to get a vaccine. It’s not because I don’t think you should get one; it’s because I think the chances of you listening to me are minimal. Smug and/or condescending pieces about how great *insert Dem columnist here* felt after his/her shot are not helping. But it is refreshing(?) to see the “I’m incredibly smart/I can’t believe you’re such a dumbass” theme never left the Left, it just stayed dormant amid the outrage.
One thing dumb people hate is being told what to do. That’s why somehow we have to convince these vaccine deniers that they came to the conclusion that vaccines are helpful on their own volition.
And the only way I can think of to do that is through inception. That’s right; get me Leo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Christopher Nolan and let’s dive into people’s dreams.
Or, if you don’t want to subject yourself to other people’s perversions (Did Leo not hack unsuspecting women’s dreams because they’d instinctively try to bang him before he could incept them into giving up their fortune?), maybe the leader of the cult should tell his followers that the Kool-Aid is in fact not spiked with Biden-created mind-controlling agents but rather is the key to getting rid of masks.
Since Republicans seemingly hate masks more than COVID, perhaps communicating “vaccine = no more masks” would be a better strategy. Shit, just call it a cure for the common mask or make it a meme on the Western Journal.
Good game, bad sport
BW: I hate losing more than I love winning, but not over literally everything. It’s the kind of competitiveness where I might launch a Bop-It through the window but I won’t hurtle “Candyland” across the room if you turn double-gumdrop and land on Licorice Lane or whatever (I do request a juried vote on almost every submission from my opponents in “Scattergories,” though). It’s hard to explain unless you are similarly afflicted; the real-recognize-real type.
How much does Elizabeth II loathe Prince Albert or whatever her husband’s name is for living so long? I would’ve been like “damn why couldn’t you have just died in the Civil War or whatever and I could’ve just done this totally YAAS QUEEN SHYAT solo for the past 70 years?” That’s the kind of competitiveness I have, minus the princess drama.
I remember being incensed and humiliated having to get in the high-five line with your opponents after a tough loss and half of them make some kind of gloating, smart-aleck remark. It’s frustrating getting dunked on in high school when you’re the starting center (I’m only 6’1″) and trying to drag seven freshmen through a JV season.
Being nice to everyone all the time is exhausting, and competition is the one outlet there is to blow off some steam, shit talk people and pass it off as just getting iN tHeIr hEaD. I’m probably going to be suspended from “Rocket League” again for discovering a spelling of a cuss word that hadn’t been censored yet. Also I (gently) tossed my first controller of “NBA2K THE CURRENT YEAR” after missing a last-second shot to literally beat the game. I then did half the stuff as the kid from the “Greatest Freak Out Ever” video — Sean’s not the only one with outdated millenial references — but you’ll have to guess which half.
Thinking ’bout switching to something light like “Luigi’s Mansion 3” but I’m kind of worried about having nightmares again so we’ll see.
Anyway, this is my TV commercial for my anti-sportsmanship, pro-emotions “Play 2 Win: There Can Be Only 1” initiative. It’s like if Got Milk? didn’t turn a whole generation lactose intolerant.
*Dramatic scene of exhausted runner nearing a marathon finish line.
Sprinter gets the wobbles and tips over a few meters away.
Sympathetic fellow competitor lifts them up and they hobble to the marker together.
“WOO!” Ben yells, sensing their weakness and sprinting past both at the last second. (I decided to star in this one BTW)
Medics tend to the fallen racer, who is moaning and drinking Pedialyte on the sidewalk.
Ben looks at his watch and the scoreboard. “Seventy-eighth place! A personal best.”*
SB: One of the main reasons I pitched this column idea to Ben was because it’s an incredibly “Mad Men” thing to write. If Ben watched “Mad Men” we could even do a “Which character are you?” segment where Ben insists he’s Roger Sterling but is really Bert Cooper.
The issue, however, is nothing really aged well from that show, which was kind of its intentional. That said, one thing that’s still in style from that show — at least in Aspen — is furs. (That’s not true. Aspenites prefer Patagonia puffys refurbished from plastic bottles and stuffed with feathers from birds accidentally killed by wind turbines.)
So my slightly misogynist “Mad Men” pitch would be something like:
A couple happily finishes a lavish, five-star dinner, maybe some quick B-roll of them polishing off a glass of bubbly. As they walk to the coat check, a draft sends a shiver through the woman. The man exchanges the tickets for the coats and then gently and sensuously assists her arms through the sleeves of the dead animal carcass before draping the rest of the former woodland creature over her shoulders.
Voiceover: “The only feeling better than a mink from Kemosabe is when he slips it on you.”
That said, something tells me convincing people to come to Aspen and spend money on anything — be it a fur coat, half the dispensary, a $10,000 bottle of wine — is going to be easier than writing ad copy after a few drinks and half a pack of Lucky Strike sativa.
Old Habits Die Hard
BW: Whenever I plan my professional headshots, I envision what kind of hipster backdrop I want, how much scruff I should have and how cool would it look to be smoking a cigarette? Leaning against a fire hydrant with stone-washed jeans, a mullet and a Camel Crush, posing like the child of James Dean and Danny McBride.
How old do I have to be to start smoking? Like, when would the negative effects of a pack per week be negated by all the other health problems that will undoubtedly ravage future me? Hell, maybe they’ll even let me crawl out of the hospital for some fresh air if I tell ’em I need a smoke break.
According to the CDC, about 99% of smokers start before age 29, which means almost no data exist on those who start when they’re older, like I would be. And being that my lungs feel wracked with long-haul COVID-OG, I bet I would be the only new smoker with that condition. I should sell my body to science or Big Tobacco, whomever offers more. If anyone wants my specimen, please get in contact ASAP.
I was thinking the best form for this advertisement would be a web comic or a viral video series (I could also star in this one).
*”Dude, have you ever even tried a cigarette?” “Uh, no. It’s gross, why would I?” “You never were like ‘huh, maybe my mom was lying, I want to try one’?” “No, they’ll make you sick and you’ll die.” “That’s what I’m saying. One won’t hurt you.” Ben takes a long drag and coughs, but from the lingering symptoms, not because the soothing menthol is too harsh.
“True, I always thought it would be cool to smoke a cigarette.” “I’ve noticed that I’ve been a lot cooler with an (ad placement here) dangling out of my mouth. Watch this cool trick I learned.”
He flicks cigarette butt on the ground and looks cool doing it.
Camera pans out and they’re actually pumping gas while having this conversation and everything explodes.*
You may have noticed there were a few twists and turns that can be tailored to fit your agency’s specific needs. But I’m pay-by-the-minute like a Tesla charger; this template is all the effort you get for free.