May 11

Those Damn Ads

I’ve been on the Internet in some form for nearly 20 years. Back then the World Wide Web looked like this:

800px-Lynx_(web_browser)

“Graphics? Are you mad? You’ll crash the entire campus with those!”
Image credit: Russell Boltz

I often miss those days. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) was in ASCII text. Social networking? That’s what a Telnet-based BBS was for. I still have an account at one. You should go visit them. They’re lonely.

Before 1996 or so there was a definite Wild West feel to being online, especially if you didn’t tie yourself down to some heinous monstrosity like AOL. If you knew what you were doing there were plenty of ways to interact with interesting people worldwide on a completely noncommercial basis.

aolcds

And you were never, ever short on coasters.
Image credit: techfun

Sadly, those days are long gone. While I’m all for making a buck online, I find it amazing that corporate America is still so bloody clueless about it all these years later. Banner ads? No one looks at those anymore. Pop-ups? Just about any decent web browser can block those. Video spots? Better keep those under 15 seconds, or we’re outta there.

Take YouTube as an example. Given that approximately 99.97 percent of the population clicks that “Skip Ad” button as soon as they see it, I wonder why people bother paying to put up ads upwards of two minutes long, knowing damn well virtually no one will watch more than the first five seconds.

youtubeskipad

“What were they selling? Who knows? Who cares? Play ‘Gangnam Style’ dammit!”

Some advertisers have grown wise to this and (I assume) plunk down more cash so YouTube will run their entire 15-second ad without a skip option. To YouTube’s credit I haven’t seen them force anything longer, at least not yet. Fifteen seconds is at the upper end of my tolerance, I’ll say that.

If you want something really irritating, check out those sites linked at Cracked and elsewhere which feature articles such as “15 Celebrities Who Are Living with Serious Medical Conditions.” You know, those sites so chock full of ads they take forever to load only to provide you with an absolute bare minimum of content? I had to sit through an entire Wendy’s commercial today, just to find out Kim Kardashian has psoriasis.

Kim_Kardashian_portrait_2009

Sneferu has more fulfilling moments when he’s licking my hair out of the bathtub.
Image credit: David Shankbone

I keep hoping technology will eventually allow us live in more enlightened times and that we’re just in a state of transition now. But damn, it’s a painful transition.

Apr 04

More Cheesy Ads

I spent a good part of the afternoon cruising YouTube in pursuit of various yuks and giggles. Apart from my usual diet of Monty Python, Epic Rap Battles of History, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Rush videos, I also perused some of the truly bad advertisements of the 80s and 90s. So I figured, “Hey, this sort of thing makes for a quick and dirty article, so why not go with that angle today?”

“Cygnus X-1” on a ukelele, man. Awesome.

Why not, indeed.

Leevers!

Circa 1982 the absolute coolest thing to have was the Atari 2600. This was the one and only thing I wanted on my Christmas list, man. Problem was those things were expensive back then, and my parents weren’t exactly technophiles to begin with.

VCR-03

They bought their first VCR … in 1989.
Imaged credit: Priwo

As fate would have it I got an Intellivision for Christmas instead. Was that because my parents appreciated the fact Intellivision’s graphics blew the doors off the Atari 2600? Oh, hell no! It was on sale, y’all. At any rate, I played the ever loving crap out of that thing. I might still have it if the guys at Mattel didn’t design it with dedicated controllers. Thanks a lot.

Anyway, I’m digressing a bit. Home video games nearly died off in the mid-80s, with consoles such as the Atari 2600 and Intellivision (what gamer geeks call “second-generation consoles”) taking a massive dump in sales and essentially disappearing from the market. The industry was brought back from the brink a couple years later by the Nintendo Entertainment System. This ad is for an NES game which became quite popular:

Possibly an acting school project. “Be the psychopath. Feel the psychopath inside you.”

I didn’t have an NES, only returning to the ranks of home gamers with a Super Nintendo a few years later. The Legend of Zelda was a pretty cool game for its time. Apart from its batshit insane commercial, it was noteworthy for a few other things. One, whereas most NES games came in gray cartridges, Zelda came in a gold cartridge. Two, the protagonist was not named Zelda. In fact, the Zelda character doesn’t appear until the very end, after you defeat the game. I’m not even sure about that.

I beat Zelda (to this day one of the very few games I ever beat) on a friend’s NES about 10 years after it came out. As for technology, I bought a DVD player on my own for the first time … four months ago.

The Legendary Eagle of Crap

This ad ran in the Chicago market in the 90s. When I was still in college at Idaho State, I heard whispers about it. A local ad so incredibly awful that its notoriety transcended its media market. There was still doubt, though. I’d never actually seen the ad, and I couldn’t believe someone would unintentionally make something that stupid.

Then in the summer of 1996, I moved to Chicagoland and finally beheld it myself. It is very horrifyingly real:

Wow. Just, wow.

Never mind the hysterically bad acting for a moment. If you hear a thump on the roof of your car, chances are you don’t think it’s a guy in an eagle suit. If it is, you may be able to file a claim for any damage he caused. Well, assuming you had insurance.

LAPD_Police_Car

And if it were that easy to figure out, no police force would have a problem with ticket quotas ever again.
Image credit: Cliff

No, no. The best thing about this ad is that the character – specifically called “Eagleman” – lays an egg. And he does so after assuming a position like he forgot his birdie Ex-Lax that day, of course.

It’s sure a good thing society has since evolved to the point where we’re not constantly annoyed by auto insurance commercials, isn’t it?