Character Study

The first (and largest) necessity for any commercial is to grab the viewer's attention. To marketing people, being boring is a far graver sin than being bad, and there's often no such thing as bad publicity, as long as people know your commercial exists. Once your commercial is noticed, however, its secondary necessity is to portray the product being sold in a positive light, often by asking the viewer to identify with the ad's protagonist. Look at this person using the product. Aren't they intelligent? Or clever? Or charming? Or sexy? You, being the shrewd consumer that you are, want to be as wonderful as this protagonist is, so you'd better get your hands on this product.

But what happens when the Wonderful Protagonist isn't so wonderful? What if they're laughably annoying, or annoyingly laughable? Like, oh say...a grandpa being unable to control his enthusiasm for Disney, thus ruining his grandson's school play?

Not cute. Not charming. I like to imagine what would happen if a person did this in real life. Rather than a fun-filled trip to the amusement park, I envision years of tense Thanksgivings and this kid being mercilessly ridiculed in the lunchroom. But at least I understand what this ad is aiming for. And none of the actors is to blame. It's just an unfunny joke. What's more mystifying than an unfunny joke? How about a serial killer masquerading as a dreamboat?

I hope those poor women were adequately compensated for mooning over a guy who is clearly about to turn their ribcages into a coat rack. I work in the sciences, so I like to do the proper experimental research. I have asked straight women, gay men, and bisexuals if the man featured in this line of ads is sexy to them. Shivers of terror is the only response he evokes. Seriously, pluck that actor out of these coffee commercials, plop him down in the middle of an episode of Hannibal, and tell me he wouldn't fit right in.

Neither of these ads offends me on any deep level. I don't feel the need to punish Disney or some random coffee company for insulting my intelligence. They're more confusing than irritating. My scientific curiosity is piqued once more! Someone please introduce me to the advertising executives who thought these were appealing characters. I want to do an intense study of their concept of human nature.


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