(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘commercials

“Commercials are about products… in the same sense that the story of Jonah is about the anatomy of whales”*…

 

760px-Television_commercial_1948

 

In a civilization organized primarily around the funneling of capital to corporations, commercials offer a space of transcendent communion with the objects of our dependence and desire. They take place in a realm understood to be ideational without quite being imaginary—existing not in any one person’s mind, but ambiently, on a level of reality we rarely think to question, encoded in the daily order of things as neatly as the peanut butter aisle of a suburban grocery store. (This bare proximity to capitalism’s exposed nerves, combined with a habitual callousness to human dignity, is I believe why, in the recent words of A.S. Hamrah, “TV commercials are the worst thing to see on hallucinogenic drugs.”) These commercials embody and transmit all kinds of cultural norms, declaiming on the career-destroying horror of “even one flake” of dandruff, the correct way to manage a labor force, how women should interpret cough syrup viscosity, and so on.

Commercials also encode and preserve basic aesthetic and narrative conventions. Musically, they’re a trove of low-rent original product psalms, in styles ranging from quietly sophisticated poultry rock to funky rugged simplicity jams that sound like a person in a boardroom frantically describing the inner life of a coalminer. They introduce stock characters from discomfiting gym teacher to comic book nerd. They offer an education in America’s throbbing corporate epiculture, whose dark world they echo in a thousand ways—through who gets represented and who not, portrayals of nations and cultures, depictions of idealized daily life, enshrinement of a particular commercial landscapestyle parodiesintimations of eternitymessages of warningmessages of beneficence, and more—all calligraphed into air and sent streaming through the walls of our homes by giant corporate antennas…

From Ian Dreiblatt, “Toward a Theory of the American TV Commercial of, Oh, Say, About 1990.”

[image above: source]

* Neil Postman

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As we take it all in, we might celebrate National Tooth Fairy Day.

In the mid-1920s fairies were used for all sorts of health education from bath fairies to fresh air fairies as a way to get kids to remember to eat their vegetables, wash behind their ears and get a good night’s rest. Unlike toothpaste today, that advertises fruity flavors and sparkles to get kids excited to brush their teeth, in 1925 it was probably quite a bit more difficult considering the pastes were mostly peroxide and baking soda. One advertisement was for a Fairy Wand Tooth Whitener. This product promised to brush away cigarette and coffee stains.  The ad was aimed at both children and adults, we hope!

Then in 1927, Esther Watkins Arnold printed an eight-page playlet for children called The Tooth Fairy. It was the same year Sir Arthur Conan Doyle “proved” his claim that fairies and gnomes are real and “verified” with pictures of two little girls surrounded by fairies. The world was ripe with imagination and primed to have a tooth fairy about to come collect the lost teeth of little boys and girls and leave a coin or two behind.

Arnold’s play began to be performed in schools the following year, and the tooth fairy has been slipping into homes ever since.  She (or he) started leaving nickels and dimes under the pillows of sleeping children. Over the years there have been variations on the theme.  In 1942, in an article written by columnist Bob Balfe in the Palm Beach Post, his children received War Stamps to put in their books when they lost a tooth…

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Written by LW

February 28, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”*…

 

 

Food

Food regularly plays a role in religious life, in forms that range from communion wine to Kahlua cheesecake…

A sampling of 34 cloistered comestibles: “A Guide of Heavenly Cuisine.”

* Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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As we devour with devotion, we might recall that it was on this date in 1993 that the first “Got Milk?” ad premiered.  Created by the advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Processor Board, it  was later licensed for use by milk processors and dairy farmers nationwide.  The campaign launched with the now-famous “Aaron Burr” television commercial, directed by Michael Bay.

 

Written by LW

October 29, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Slow but steady wins the race”*…

 

Slow TV comes to the U.S…

TV viewers in Duluth, Minnesota had the opportunity to witness a record-setting premiere last Staurday:  the world’s first thirteen-hour-long commercial– an ad for the the chain that Jon Stewart loves to hate, Arby’s.

The door of a smoker will open, the brisket will be placed inside, smoke will flow in, and for just short of 13 hours, the viewer will watch it smoke through a window. A small logo in the corner of the screen identifies Arby’s…

At 13 hours, the commercial will be longer than pre-game coverage of the Super Bowl (6½ hours), and not much shorter than Richard Wagner’s operatic “Ring” cycle (14½ hours)… Indeed, when the commercial passes the one-hour mark, it will have exceeded the Guinness World Record for longest TV commercial, currently held by Nivea…

The manager of My9, the Duluth station that aired the spot, reported that he got “a ‘ton’ of media calls about the stunt—that is, six or seven.”

Read more here.

* Aesop

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As we proclaim “Out damned spot! Out, I say!“, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957 that Chuck Berry opened “Berry Land” (AKA “Berry Park”), an amusement park and resort built on his estate outside of St. Louis.  The 30-acre complex had hotel rooms, a miniature golf course, a Ferris wheel, a nightclub, children’s barbecue pits, and a guitar-shaped swimming pool.  The attraction closed in 1961, when Berry was convicted of a Mann Act violation.

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Written by LW

May 31, 2014 at 1:01 am

In a flash (mob)…

Over 27 million YouTube viewers have watched Saatchi & Saatchi’s “T-Mobile Dance,” a (supposed) flash mob that comes together at London’s Liverpool Station in terpsichorean tribute to the wireless carrier– and winner of “Commercial of the Year” at 2010’s  British Television Advertising Awards.

Rival agency M&C Saatchi took the same concept and used it in Beirut…

It’s no more a genuinely-spontaneous gathering than the British “mob” on which it riffs.  But this testament to social media, shot (earlier this month,on March 5th) in a Middle Eastern airport in promotional service of international travel and commerce (Duty Free), coexists with the regional reality of spontaneous social and political unrest– unrest that actually has been abetted by social media, unrest that actually has the emergent character of flash mobs…

The ironies abound.

[via VSL]

As we monitor our Twitter feeds more closely, we might celebrate another example of “art-in-the-service-of-commerce imitating life– only more so”:  on this date (April Fool’s Day) in 1963 that the ABC television network aired the premiere episode of General Hospital, the daytime drama that became the network’s (and television’s) most enduring soap opera– and the longest-running serial program produced in Hollywood.  (The world’s longest-running soap opera currently airing on television is the British series Coronation Street, on air since December 9, 1960.)

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Concurrencer le Jones…

TotH, Presurfer.

As we rein in our competitive impulses, we might recall that it was on this date in 1882 that nearly 10,000 workers gathered for a parade in New York to celebrate the first Labor Day in the U.S.

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