Tuesday, January 22, 2008

877-393-4448

I cannot emphasize enough that my following entry does not in any part endorses, promotes, or even condones Cablevision. I view the American cable industry as the most crooked, greedy, unscrupulous, and downright evil branch of business still allowed to function with relative freedom by the US government. The shameful reality that the government allows them to split up the country into their own personal cable fiefdoms and thus depriving us the consumer of any alternative or bargaining power is one of the biggest (among many) examples of the irrelevance of the FCC. Furthermore, among this terminally corrupt industry, Cablevision, the providers of the Optimum Triple Play package, as I've learned from years living in their service area, somehow manages to be the paradigm of corruption, greed, and customer indifference; not only with providing cable services, but with running Madison Square Garden and the once proud New York Rangers and New York Knicks completely into the ground. With all that being said however I can't deny, "The savings are for real, the Triple Play is the deal!"

For some of you living outside of the tri-state region and thus out of the reach of the dark tendrils of Cablevision's service area, this commercial won't be as affecting. For anyone living in Cablevision's sphere of influence and watching a moderate amount of TV, you most likely have seen this commercial during every commercial break for the past month or so. It's tasteless, annoying, extremely redundant, and advertising a product that I am openly hostile towards, but I somehow can't get enough of it!

The cheesy visuals, the forced reggaeton, the confusing demographic targetting, the vapid eye candy ladies, the nonsensical plot, all of this and more somehow combine to form a commercial that I can't look away from every time it comes on. So how can this annoying little advert which seems to fly in the face of the conventional view of creative, memorable, advertising somehow cut through the clutter of thousands of better produced ads and into my prized consciousness?

I think deep down it all just comes down to genuine fun. This commercial is just plain fun. It's outrageous, it's wacky, and I have a feeling everybody even had fun making it from the Daddy Yankee-esque protagonist to the 877 girls, to the pirates, to the guy in the monster suit that looks like Tony Reali. It's silly without the overwhelming stink of irony. The modern commercials created by their detached merchants of cool have mostly been about being painfully ironic, or postmodern, or just too plain clever. Antagonizing Burger King customers by giving them the wrong food and calling it a freakout, Old Spice commercials with Bruce Campbell just for the sake of Bruce Campbell, cavemen selling car insurance (or rather trying not to sell car insurance), ambiguously associating Cheetos with some sort of guerrilla movement, commercials not for Esurance but merely the character that used to promote Esurance. Somewhere along the attempt to provide "killer" copy, to enhance positioning, to try to be as distinctive as possible, to think outside the box, people may have strayed away from the primary goal of advertising which is to get awareness out so the product will sell.

Now I'm not calling for the overhaul of modern advertising back into some sort of utilitarian, no frills, Head-On Apply Directly to the Forehead, approach; but I think sometimes copywriters and art directors have to stop being so damn cool that they think they're not making a ad for a product. It's okay to make a goofy commercial that's not completely in an ironic manner. Sometimes you need pirates running around in fast motion, a lame rap, extra repetition of the phone number ( with sexy women doing pelvic thrusts on the last 8). Don't be afraid to, gasp, show the product in a straight forward manner. As chaotic as it seems, the three specific acts of the Io commercial each deal clearly with the three separate services. Show me a burger and I may want to buy it, don't show me a just guy in a creepy king suit and tell me there's a burger in the restaurant also. Creativity is great, but one has to walk a fine line between getting my attention and then transferring that intention to the product. If you can't reconcile the two, direct music videos or branch out into feature films.

I couldn't tell you what that latest viral, guerrilla marketing campaign is about but I will probably remember the phone number 877-393-4448 till my deathbed. And for that I hate them even more.

5 comments:

  1. At this point, whenever I hear any reggaeton song all I can hear is, "I-O DIGITAL CABLE. WATCH A LOT OF TV WHENEVER YOU'RE ABLE," in the lyrics. Maybe it's just a lack of cultural sensitivity or ignorance of the Spanish language, but I'll be damned if that shit isn't infectious.

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  2. Dude,

    Right on!

    I'm in the toll free biz, i can't imagine why they couldn't have gotten a better vanity number.

    One side effect, the number spells "UP-SEX-DIGIT"

    How sweet is that. Maybe that's why the dancing girls.

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  3. "UP-SEX-DIGIT"

    My mind has been officially blown.

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  4. I can't get that commercial out of my head, so I Googled the number (to make sure I had it right), and this post pops up. Figures.

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