Tuesday, July 11, 2006


report from an alert citizen

Famous old people lobbying organization the AARP has an ad in which a cop pulls a driver over and asks why the driver doesn't have the AARP's own car insurance for senior citizens. It's entirely obvious that she's not a cop, she works for AARP, because cops don't pull you over to sell you insurance. What kind of idiots do these silver haired scammers think we are?


And impersonating one is a crime.

Monday, July 10, 2006



Okay, this may be fudging with the mandate of this site, not about ads per se, but this is about corporate branding. I don't see my silent co-bloggers raising any objections...

I'm seriously bothered when the familiar things in my life are taken away from me. It causes nothing but woe and disconcertment. When corporations acquire things they change them, not in any rational manner to benefit the consumer but to benefit their collective egos. Much has been made of Macy's acquiring Marshall Fields in downtown Chicago and foolishly changing its name, an act of cultural imperialism that has greatly angered the populace. But less noticably, these things happen on a smaller level as well. I've grown up with two chain drugstores, Walgreens and Osco, both are very nice and familiar to me. Of late a new chain, CVS has moved in from the East, like the Dark Shadow of Mordor. We fear change.

I have continued to patronise Chicago's original, traditional stores as much as possible, but recently CVS assimilated Osco into its collective. CVS has draped their name to cover up the defunct Osco name. To me these draped banners resemble nothing so much as the flags of an occupying foreign army. I will not salute.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006



Sorry the momentum on this baby got dropped a bit, ya'll know how it is right?

So a quick observation, a McDonalds Internet ad just caught my eye. McDonalds is obviously a bit of a troubled brand, has been for years. It's products are responsible for lots of death and disease, but also popular and delicious.

Actually I think that's a pretty good ad right there.

Anyway, the McDonald's ad asks the question "Are you Mac enough?"

There's got to be a name for the type of marketing that doesn't merely suggest buying it's product will make you cool but directly confronts you and challenges you by telling you you're not cool.

It's a form of bullying really...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


One small step?

There are a lot of reasons to hate the "Girls Gone Wild" phenomenon, which does for young women what Birth of a Nation did for black people. My personal reason to hate it is that the ads always air during the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. It's depressing to think that the smartest, most progressive programming block on cable television has to be brought to us by porn. Moreover, there's the irritating assumption that the TDS/Colbert demographic, us college age 18 to 34 year old types with disposable income (the "us" doesn't really apply to me on that last part) has a significant crossover with the GGW demographic, which plays into the media's idiotic "stoners who don't really know anything about current events" meme for Daily Show fans.

But I digress...My point is actually that I noticed a new Girls Gone Wild spot last night. I wasn't really paying attention to it, but I did notice that the GGW are trying to do other things than take off their shirts and soap each other. They're skydiving. And apparently flying around in rocket ships...?

See, if there was an entire installment of "Girls Gone Wild in Outer Space" I might buy that. Or pretty much anything about outer space because outer space rules.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


All Your Revolutions Are Belong To Us

For at least a decade or so, I've been fairly freaked out by Sprite commercials. And arguably, by lemon lime soft drink commercials in general. More than any other product, it seems lemon lime soft drinks want you to believe that using their product will transform you into a bold, radical individual who will overthrow the shackles of our Machine Overlords and bring liberty to the grubby masses. The appropriation of counterculture by corporations is nothing new of course, and there are excellent book length examinations of the phenomenon such as Thomas Frank's One Market Under God but it's still a fascinating topic.

But Sprite's the true master of this sort of thing, all of Mountain Dew's "extreme" stuff has always been at best a flattering imitation. Really, has there ever been a scarier slogan than "Obey your thirst"? (Subtext: Obey US)

It's a slogan that asks us to embrace our rapacious primal appetites, and to cast reason and civilized behavior aside. It encourages us to become unthinking animals and mockingly flatters our cerebra into believing that this constitutes being an "individual". It is the celebration of the mindless, the repudiation of refinement. It is the first step to totalitarianism.

But in the murky world of the corporation co-opted counterculture (You know what I'm saying is true because of my expert use of alliteration) there are no meaningful distinctions between anything. Rebellion is tyranny. Freedom is slavery and all the rest of Big Brother's Greatest Hits...

But the ads have gotten crazy scarier over the years, and what's more, they make no attempt to hide it, they revel in their crazy-scariness and they laugh at you for being scared...I just watched one of their new "Sublymonal" spots.


They're not even bothering to romanticize the struggle against tyranny anymore, they are openly romanticising tyranny! They openly tell you about the subliminal content and ask you to look for it and they flash the word "Obey" at the end of the ad! I am increasingly terrified of my television...

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Woe unto to the Malefactors!

In her introduction for me, my co-blogger Reina referred to me as a "madman". This was obviously in jest, as sanity is something I'm rather well known for actually. My reputation, on the Internet, and elsewhere, is that of a sober and rational commentator, a reputation I hope to live up to on this site, as I endeavor to uncover the truths about advertising without passion or prejudice, but rather through reason, objectivity and intellect.

For some time, an ad campaign by Citibank has been airing on television. The subject of this campaign is the dangers of identity theft. The ads feature people of all demographic types speaking to the viewer, but their voices are obviously not their own, for example a young woman's voice will be a young man, an old man's voice will be a young woman. The people speaking, or rather lip syncing, are those whose identities have been stolen while the overdubbed voices are those of the thieves.

So, in the spirit of robust, but reasoned commentary I mentioned earlier, please allow me to extend a calm, collected, accusatory finger in the direction of these wrongdoers:


Now that I have concluded my opening remarks, please allow me to elaborate:


People speaking in voices that are not their own is not natural, and it can only lead a believing Christian to conclude that the identity thieves currently roaming about our nation are witches.


These identity thieves have consorted with the Devil under the pale light of a heathen moon. They have bathed in the blood of murdered Christian babes and they have sacrificed their eternal souls in exchange for demonic power.

Long have we known that the Evil One has sought to work his Mischief upon our crops, our livestock and the virtue of our young maidens, but now we have uncovered the terrifying truth that he has sought to bring ruin to our credit cards and our bank accounts as well.

When we are unable to tell matron from farmer, young good wife from reverend, confusion shall reign, faith shall waver and Satan's unholy terror shall spread throughout this sin drenched world.

Kudos to the good merchants of Citibank for exposing this treason against Heaven.

Evil is among us and must be brought into the light. This community of Christian believers must do as the Good Book has commanded us and not suffer these foul creatures to live. We must cleanse ourselves of their wickedness through righteous fire! Woe unto the Malefactors!

Satan's work shall be turned back by the power of an angry God! Ye goode people must band together and purge the evil that is among us, as we struggle to build our Lord's Kingdom anew in this accursed pagan land.


Thursday, June 22, 2006


And now for a word from our sponsors...

Welcome to our blog. It's about commercials. Why? Well...

Short, punchy and infinitely duplicitous, a really well-made tv spot will have far more layers of meaning than the program it interrupts. We here at See Spots Run admire the craft that goes in these dense packets of message, but we also like unpacking the packets. What are they trying to do to us? Who do they think we are? We also like judging the skill and effectiveness of the ad. Did they catch our attention? Did they entertain us while still promoting their project? Every year it gets harder to attract and sway the American consumer, so dance, monkeys dance.

Your hosts are: Me. Reina. A theatre critic (see Way Off Loop), I pushed for this blog because Slate's excellent Ad Report Card doesn't come out often enough, and all other ad reviews publish in subscription-only industry rags.

Mark Twain. A pseudonymous industry professional, he'll be offering insight from behind a convenient mask.

Rory Leahy. A genial, amusing madman. My favorite person with whom to discuss ads and the weirdness of pop culture. Soon, yours too. He blogs about not-ads here: American Demigods.

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