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Fred's Views

Pitchman II

This is the second column I've written about recent commercials. Unless you were very quick, you missed the first one. It will appear next week.

Yesterday was the big day. Tampa Bay made it clear that they weren't going to be pushed around any more. Although boring in spots, when Tampa Bay tried to just play out the clock, this year's game has to rank as one of the better contests. And, although Tampa Bay led the contest after an early turn over and field goal by Oakland, the game got interesting just when everyone thought it was all over. The final score, although indicative of the overall play of the game, belies how close the contest almost became.

But while we cheered, mildly, for the Bucs, it was the commercials we came to see. And in that, we were sadly disappointed. (I also came to see Shania, but the less said about her outfit, the better. At least she didn't go overboard on the makeup.) This year's crop of commercials offered slim pickings. The "technical achievement" award goes to the three Michael Jordans commercial. There was also a commercial that, for some reason I can't really remember, but I thought it was sort of a standout. Indicative of the commercials in general.

Those commercials that did make an impression fall into two categories: Bikinis and "potty humor". I personally find no humor in "potty humor", but some do. The most remarkable here was the gross Dodge Ram commercial where they perform the Heimlich maneuver by slamming on the brakes. The results are splattered across the windshield. Thankfully, the idiot was wearing seat belts.

So, sorry ladies, but the real winners (such as they are) were the "Bikini" commercials. Interestingly enough, it was not a paid sponsor who gets the nod, here, it's ABC itself. They promoted the upcoming NHL all-star game and ProBowl game by showing us two beautiful bikini-clad girls running on the beach. They are joined in their running by a hockey and football player. At least I think they were, I really wasn't paying much attention to that side of the screen. The other winner was a series of ads promoting Alias and showing us Jennifer Garner in a variety of skimpy, bikini-type outfits. She looked good.

The only other commercials worthy of note were previews for upcoming movies. There are a lot of sequels and sequels to sequels in the works. However, I question how much good these promos are going to be since the first movie to be released won't be until May. All the rest are even later in the year. For the "instant gratification" generation, this seems like a waste of revenue.

I'll admit I wasn't giving the game or the commercials my full attention all the time. I may have missed a memorable commercial or two. But I doubt it. Looks like the general malaise that permeates the U.S. economy has found its way into the creative processes of advertising as well. Not a banner year. Not even close.

Some of the people with whom I viewed the game were convinced that on "Up", at least, Shania was just lip-synching. There was certainly one moment when she was greeting the crowd where it appeared she forgot to move her lips. There might be a good reason for this, but, until we hear of it, shame on you, Shania. And get a new fashion consultant. And as to the other "singers" who followed Shania (Sting and some Madonna-impersonator), the less said the better. Sting's song was one of the most forgetful I've ever had to sit through.

But let's end this on a positive note. In the pre-game festivities, Celine Dion sang "God Bless America". We Cannucks, of course, interpret "America" in its broad sense (continental). She did a good job. And the Dixie Chicks sang the "Star Spangled Banner". When I heard they were going to do it, I had shutters. It actually called to mind Roseanne Bar (or whatever) for some reason. However, I was most pleasantly surprised. The Dixie Chicks were fantastic. It was by far the best rendition of their national anthem I have heard in years. The harmony worked, and they stuck to the original tune right up until the last note. Great work!

Copyright © 2003 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.

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