I find television advertisements to be an excellent source of humor. While most folks in this day and age are busy fast-forwarding through commercial breaks with their magic Digital Video Recorder boxes, I occasionally stop to watch, mostly to find out what products are currently being pushed upon unsuspecting consumers.
Fifty percent of the ads you see during commercials are for new fuel-efficient cars that look cool, go fast, and have a built-in iPod connector that comes standard. Another forty-five percent of the ad block belongs to cell phones or cell phone related services. We’re shown which company has the latest and greatest in touch-screen technology and how it can run helpful applications, access the Internet, tie your shoes, and occasionally even make a phone call.
Now, the other five percent of commercial time is where things start to get a little crazy. Usually, this other percentage belongs to the local advertisements. You know, the ones where the volume on your TV kicks itself up ten notches and blows your dad’s hairpiece against the wall behind the couch. These are the low-budget ads that look like a colorblind prison inmate in solitary confinement edited them. You’ll spot ads for legal counsels, such as our local personal injury attorneys, Sheckler, Sheckler, Sheckler, and Brooks. It’s one of those ads where The Shecklers get thirty seconds to beg for your legal business all while making Brooks feel bad that he has a different father. Or maybe you’re familiar with your local car dealer’s ad, where the creepy old used car salesman shoves his youngest daughter in front of the camera in an attempt to sell a few beat up Saabs and attract the attention of perverts in a ten-mile radius.
There are other times when this five percent is filled with a national advertisement that just feels downright out of place. For example, a few nights ago I was enjoying a special on the Discovery Channel about a group of people who were making a documentary about hating television. Sure, it was a little hypocritical, but that’s not the point of this story. Several minutes in the commercial break kicks into full effect and I am treated to a crazy advertisement about a new vehicle called The Cube. It’s essentially a tiny little box with wheels that induces claustrophobia in the driver. It also comes in blue. The fifteen-second commercial was full of swirling colors and pounding dance music. Though it was marketed to get me interested in possibly purchasing the car, it really just made me want to have a seizure. The next advertisement was for a company offering cellular phone ring tones. In quick succession, a slew of horrible song snippets by horrible artists that my phone could blare out whenever it rang came at me like a sonic assault. I opted not to join the service and lost a little more faith in popular music.
Then it was time for the weird advertisement. After having all of my senses beaten into submission and spit on by the previous commercials, I was quite surprised that the final ad was for Duke’s Mayonnaise. Yes, you read that correctly. Mayonnaise. Backed by a soundtrack that would have won a Grammy in the 1940s, slow-moving elderly folks spreading mayo onto denture-friendly sandwiches replaced my world of colors, sounds, shapes, and general sensory overload. I know the mobile phone world is booming and the automotive industry is in the toilet, but what warrants getting Duke’s Mayonnaise, the secret of great Southern cooks, onto my television screen? Apparently I didn’t fit into the ad’s target demographic. My curiosity diminished, however, as David Maus’s used car advertisement came on, raising my television volume to eighty, and subsequently hurtling me across the room into a wall, knocking me unconscious.