Saturday, August 26, 2006

Adblogging: Dance! Dance! Dance!

I can think of few professions more useless then that of dancer. Dance, while pretty to look at, expresses little but the dancer's own athleticism. It has little or no content, and holds little or no intellectual interest. Yet young people in droves seek out this career, and when they need to eat, they can usually find employment in music videos and advertising, two genres where the superficiality of the dancer's art is not a vice but a virtue.

Below are some recent examples in commercials:

Starbucks Doubleshots
: Manic, caffeinated hordes are coming to pillage your offices and conference rooms. They stomp, shout, and chant their way through urban America, seeking virgin office managers they can sacrifice to their pagan gods.

There's several fatal errors in this ad, and it not only fails to make me feel enthused about trying the product, it actually makes me want to avoid the product entirely, even if it were offered to me for free.

The first is that the producers attempted to maximize how large the crowd of stompers appears to be. They used quick cuts from dance move to dance move, rearranging most of the dancers each time, to make that hundreds of people had taken the streets. The problem is, they didn't have enough dancers: too many faces repeat. In the final set of cuts, a man sees the crowd then rushes out to join them. However, the same man was in the shot just prior to this, and the fact it is the same man is obvious. An ad with a mistake this obvious does not bring credit to the product it advertises. It also doesn't help that the ad is all about getting ready for the day and in the last shots, some guy is ditching work to go stomp around the streets with a bunch of strangers.

A second flaw is the art design. The ad is all black, grey, and denim blue. It is supposed to have a cool, corporate feel to it, and I suppose it does, but all the ambition it is supposed to inspire crashes against its depressing backdrop. Why would I want to succeed in an environment so completely lacking in joy, around people so dour and intense, and why would I want a product that is intended to help me do so?

The final and most serious problem is simply this: these people are freakin' crazy, I mean totally, completely, balls-to-the-wall insane. I really don't want to drink something that will cause me to act like these people. I'd be more interested in the antidote.

Fanta: I thought the first bunch of Fanta ads featuring the Fantanas were absolutely brilliant. The scantily clad girls, each dressed in a different bright, solid color to represent the different flavors of the drink, would suddenly appear on some hot sweaty scene bringing joy and refreshment. It was all so cheesy and fun that I was tempted a number of times actually buy a Fanta, which is saying a lot for the ad because I never buy soft drinks. I especially loved that each of the Fantana's had a name, as though they were dolls you could collect.

The ads must have been popular, because they have been developed further in a batch of ads. Unfortunately, the producers took what was good, cheesy fun and created a successor that is less clear and much more overproduced. The music changed: it has become a complex and overproduced dance tune, and one that isn't half as fun to listen as before. Second, instead of primarily presenting obvious scenarios that show Fanta is a cool and refreshing drink, the new ads are mostly a jumble of people dancing. This lessens the clear message about the drink the prior version had. The only redeeming virtue of the new ad is that the girls still have names.

"Don't you wanna?" Not as much as before. They should have kept things simple.

Bacardi Mojiti: Apparently, if you are very hip, you are at the mercy of smug, pretentious bartenders. They can make you dance, they can make you stop dancing. Your whole world revolves around them, at least while they are crushing mint leaves for your Mojito. This ad features a muscular dance not unlike the Twist, only without any of the joy or variety of movement.

With all the sweaty bodies grinding about, the underlying message of the ad is subtle. The bartender is only just beginning the drink; he hasn't even added the alcohol. So it takes more thought then they expect the viewer to employ to realize that the entire commercial is saying Bacardi rules the night, and is the sole source of whatever fun one might have. When the drink mixing stops, so does all the dancing in the entire city.

The people most responsive to this ad are those who hope to submerge themselves into the overpriced, soulless world of clubs and parties. Watching it makes me grateful that I am not hip.

And by the way, I don't think a Mojito is a gay drink: Moe-hee-toe.

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