The main reason I can’t stand this stream of unadulterated turdage is that it so bone-headedly demonstrates an ad construction that I thought had died at the turn of the Millennium, namely: ‘But Not Like You Thought’.
It goes like this: you mention something crap, then counterpoint it by showing a visual of something ‘good/cool’ that can be referred to in the same way as the crap thing, thereby confounding our expectations. The main point of these ads is to make you think differently about something you supposedly thought was shit.
Although the classic is the Bacardi cinema ad from the 80s (VO: ‘The Dog and Duck, dahn the ‘igh street.’ Visual: four white-suited blokes running off down a jetty to a Caribbean bar) I recall a particularly bad BNLYT ad for Rover cars at the end of the nineties that was supposed to reposition the car. I can’t remember all the examples but one that stuck in the mind was the voiceover of ‘Pearly Queens’ (they were examples of old-fashioned GB) that was illustrated by two hot chicks with pearls in their pierced navels. See? It’s Pearly Queens, But Not Like You Thought.
Back to California: so the conceit is shit, but what about the examples? This is where it really falls down, because no one thinks California is a state of dull workaholics. The ‘board meetings’ are on skateboards and surfboards and the ‘pencil pusher’ is filling in his golf scorecard, but that doesn’t confound our expectations; it just makes us wonder why California feels the need to tell us their version of ‘playing catch up’ is on a bike ride. It’s California – of course it’s all sports and spas. Who thinks anything else? If I was being charitable, I could say that they’re trying to compare a holiday in California to the viewer’s dull work life, but that still doesn’t work, because any holiday, even one in Skegness, ought to be better than your average day.
Then (keep in mind it’s California, the land of the eye-wateringly famous), here are the people involved:
Actress Vanessa Marcil (who?)
Professional skateboarder Paul Rodriguez Jr. (who?)
Professional cyclist Levi Leipheimer (who?)
Golfer Phil Mickelson (just about heard of him)
Actress Vanessa Williams (from Ugly Betty; used to be Miss America)
Musician Chris Isaak (but I didn’t recognise him)
Unknown spa lady
Actor Andrew Firestone (WHO!??!!)
Actor Rob Lowe (a Proper Star! Although not really at his peak)
CA first lady Maria Shriver
CA governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (another star)
This is what the home of movie-making came up with for their bestest, show-offest, this-is-how-great-we-really-are movie.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
PS: apologies for three posts in a row slating ads that I can’t quite bring myself to like very much. I’m in a perfectly jovial mood, but sometimes a bunch of stinkers turn up at once, kind of like like crappy Michael Caine movies in the late eighties. I’ve got another lined up for tomorrow, by the way. xxx