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  #1  
Old 04-15-2017, 09:10 PM
igor frankensteen igor frankensteen is offline
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Commercials with unintended messages

Inspired by Boyo Jim's post about unintended symbology...

I have a personal game of watching for unintended but clear messages in TV commercials.

Favorite example: a whole series of commercials in support of Frosted Mini Wheats cereal. All of them feature an avid customer of Mini Wheats, who hallucinates that they have the assistance of a small animated, living piece of the cereal itself, standing on their shoulder, helping them to cheat on tests, or otherwise perform above the level they would have, had they failed to eat this apparently drug-laden product each morning.
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  #2  
Old 04-15-2017, 09:16 PM
burpo the wonder mutt burpo the wonder mutt is offline
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^ Yeah, but where's the one with the horns, barbed tail and pitchfork for his other shoulder?

I hope this was accidental, but years back, there was a tampon commercial with the slogan, "Look for the box with the dots."
  #3  
Old 04-15-2017, 09:29 PM
Superdude Superdude is offline
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There's a recent State Farm commercial where a guy tells his wife various things, only to later do those exact things (have kids, buying a minivan, moving to the suburbs). His last line, where his kids and wife are all asleep in his arms while he's sitting on the couch, is "I'm never letting go."

Since every other thing he says becomes untrue due to circumstance, his pattern seems to indicate that he will, in fact, let go.
  #4  
Old 04-15-2017, 09:35 PM
running coach running coach is offline
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It's for a psychiatric medication. Right when the voiceover is mentioning suicidal impulses as a side effect, the visual is two women standing on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:41 PM
HeXen HeXen is offline
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But the point is do you get the context of what they are trying to market? Communication of intent is all that matters, how you interpret is either your own fault or a misguided, poorly done commercial.
  #6  
Old 04-16-2017, 12:44 AM
susan susan is offline
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There are many contemporary ads where the protagonist does something at the end of the commercial in a style that seems to suggest they're affable yet inadequate schlubs. Their action or self-presentation, which is presented as a joke-at-their-expense punchline of a sort, usually undoes any confidence the ad has built about its product or service. It leaves me thinking, "You're a loser and the ad works against selling me That Thing."
  #7  
Old 04-16-2017, 12:53 AM
tripthicket tripthicket is offline
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Well, there is that famous Folgers Christmas commercial...

Last edited by tripthicket; 04-16-2017 at 12:54 AM.
  #8  
Old 04-16-2017, 02:42 AM
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From a LONG time ago:

A couple are in bed fighting over the remote. Male begrudgingly gives up the remote to the woman. After she turns the channel, you can here the theme to "Bewitched" playing in the background.

My friend used to tell me: "That's because they're trying to tell you she's a bitch man.."

I didn't agree, I just mentioned it because this thread reminded me of him. He was always looking for hidden meanings into things.
  #9  
Old 04-16-2017, 02:51 AM
JacobSwan JacobSwan is offline
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Most of the UK ads for laundry capsules include the line: 'always keep away from children'. But it's a bit ambiguous. Do they mean keep the capsules away from children? Or that I should keep myself away from children? I miss my family!

There's a few otc medications that have the line 'nothing works faster', so I always take nothing when I have the relevant ailment.
  #10  
Old 04-16-2017, 09:33 AM
hogarth hogarth is offline
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Before the most recent Canadian federal election, the Conservative party had a radio ad condemning the Liberals idea of making marijuana consumption legal for adults. The ad had a concerned mother arguing that if marijuana was legal for adults to consume, then children would be able to illegally purchase marijuana. I wasn't under the impression that children found it particularly difficult to purchase marijuana in the first place, so the ads seemed kind of pointless to me.
  #11  
Old 04-16-2017, 02:48 PM
Gatopescado Gatopescado is offline
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Originally Posted by susan View Post
There are many contemporary ads where the protagonist does something at the end of the commercial in a style that seems to suggest they're affable yet inadequate schlubs. Their action or self-presentation, which is presented as a joke-at-their-expense punchline of a sort, usually undoes any confidence the ad has built about its product or service. It leaves me thinking, "You're a loser and the ad works against selling me That Thing."
Exactly. I always come away with, "Well, your product/service is the choice of stupid people. I'll look elsewhere".
  #12  
Old 04-16-2017, 03:07 PM
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There's a car ad where the potential buyer and a salesman are out on a test drive. He tells her about the turbo engine, she floors it. He tells her about the lane assist and she lets go of the steering wheel making the car drift into another lane before the correct stops it. Finally he tells her about the braking assist and she goes "You mean this car can stop itself?" and heads off, presumably right at a tree.

These are safety features, not see how your car can save you features.
  #13  
Old 04-16-2017, 03:25 PM
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Burger King debuted a new ad with some text which causes a Google powered device to start reading aloud a thing from the BK Wikipedia page.

Argh, right? But what's the "unintended" part? Wikipedia is editable! People started editing the page so that "other text" not friendly to BK started being recited.

Google, of course, realized that BK was evil. (Takes one to know one.) So it blocked the audio from activating devices. Which BK, in order to out-evil Google, tweaked so it would go thru still.
  #14  
Old 04-16-2017, 03:45 PM
Son of a Rich Son of a Rich is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superdude View Post
There's a recent State Farm commercial where a guy tells his wife various things, only to later do those exact things (have kids, buying a minivan, moving to the suburbs). His last line, where his kids and wife are all asleep in his arms while he's sitting on the couch, is "I'm never letting go."

Since every other thing he says becomes untrue due to circumstance, his pattern seems to indicate that he will, in fact, let go.
I always hated the offhanded way she informed him she was pregnant again. What a bitch.
  #15  
Old 04-16-2017, 04:06 PM
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The "can you hear me now?" guy switching from Verizon to Sprint just makes me think he's a sellout, it doesn't make me think Sprint is better.

Last edited by DigitalC; 04-16-2017 at 04:07 PM.
  #16  
Old 04-16-2017, 04:19 PM
Donegal Dragon Donegal Dragon is offline
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My problem with ads is using our poor understanding of the English language to mislead us as to what the company is presenting as true. Such as, McDonalds burgers made "with 100% beef", this only means that one of the ingredients used in their manufacture is 100% beef. So if I took a sawdust pattie and dipped it into weak beef stock brewed with an ounce of 100% beef, then their ad would be true.
  #17  
Old 04-16-2017, 05:04 PM
Wolf333 Wolf333 is offline
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Originally Posted by Donegal Dragon View Post
My problem with ads is using our poor understanding of the English language to mislead us as to what the company is presenting as true. Such as, McDonalds burgers made "with 100% beef", this only means that one of the ingredients used in their manufacture is 100% beef. So if I took a sawdust pattie and dipped it into weak beef stock brewed with an ounce of 100% beef, then their ad would be true.

I believe the claim is that the burgers ARE 100% beef. From their site, the Quarter Pounder pattie is:

Quote:
Ingredients: 100% Pure USDA Inspected Beef; No Fillers, No Extenders.Prepared with Grill Seasoning (Salt, Black Pepper). *Based On The Weight Before Cooking 4.25 oz.
  #18  
Old 04-16-2017, 05:25 PM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is offline
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The "can you hear me now?" guy switching from Verizon to Sprint just makes me think he's a sellout, it doesn't make me think Sprint is better.
The thing about that ad that hits me - he says Sprint's reliability is practically the same as Verizon, which is fine if you live somewhere that has Sprint coverage. But he doesn't say anything about coverage - just reliability. What good is reliability if you can't get a signal at your house?
  #19  
Old 04-16-2017, 05:54 PM
Superdude Superdude is offline
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There's also a Milky Way commercial where a girl is eating a candy bar while tattooing someone, and misspells the word "regrets" so that it reads "regerts." When the customer points that out, she responds with "sorry...I was eating a Milky Way."

So...Milky Way candy bars cause you to not pay attention to your job, and to suck horribly at the things you attempt to perform? Sounds like a stupid ad campaign: "Milky Way candy bars. They cause you to be inattentive, and your ability to spell correctly to vanish."

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  #20  
Old 04-16-2017, 05:55 PM
Grither Grither is offline
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Well, there is that famous Folgers Christmas commercial...
...?
  #21  
Old 04-16-2017, 07:11 PM
RobDog RobDog is offline
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I believe the claim is that the burgers ARE 100% beef. From their site, the Quarter Pounder pattie is:
Oh, sure. The burger's 100% beef. It's just everything else on top and underneath it that's made from sugar, salt, fat, ground kittens and orphans' tears.
  #22  
Old 04-16-2017, 07:43 PM
Jeep's Phoenix Jeep's Phoenix is offline
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...?
The linked commercial is a remake of an 80s-era Folgers ad that depicted the older brother coming home and being greeted by a really little sister. Cute. The new commercial made the brother a touch younger and the sister a lot older; that, combined with the delivery of the lines, gives the whole thing a bit of an incest vibe to some people.
  #23  
Old 04-16-2017, 10:25 PM
guestchaz guestchaz is offline
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I hope this was accidental, but years back, there was a tampon commercial with the slogan, "Look for the box with the dots."
it took me all day to figure this out




Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever
Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever
Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever
Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever
Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever
Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever
Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever
Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever
Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever
Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever
Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever
Head on! got a head ache? Use our ineffective pain reliever

If I have to use it this many times for one headache, then it's not working good enough for me to waste time with.

as an aside, am I the only one that wants to punch Jimmy in the throat instead of buying a syphilis or whatever it is he's shilling?

Last edited by guestchaz; 04-16-2017 at 10:29 PM.
  #24  
Old 04-16-2017, 11:06 PM
Lorne Armstrong Lorne Armstrong is offline
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A few years back the was a commercial for pop tarts that used CGI to create a boy so happy that his mother was making him pop tarts that he begins to dance around the kitchen. One of his dance moves was the moonwalk.

So Kellogg's just linked a product aimed a kids with Michael Jackson.
  #25  
Old 04-16-2017, 11:20 PM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is online now
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Originally Posted by Superdude View Post
There's a recent State Farm commercial where a guy tells his wife various things, only to later do those exact things (have kids, buying a minivan, moving to the suburbs). His last line, where his kids and wife are all asleep in his arms while he's sitting on the couch, is "I'm never letting go."

Since every other thing he says becomes untrue due to circumstance, his pattern seems to indicate that he will, in fact, let go.
+1 Hate that commercial.
  #26  
Old 04-16-2017, 11:22 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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Originally Posted by Superdude View Post
There's a recent State Farm commercial where a guy tells his wife various things, only to later do those exact things (have kids, buying a minivan, moving to the suburbs). His last line, where his kids and wife are all asleep in his arms while he's sitting on the couch, is "I'm never letting go."

Since every other thing he says becomes untrue due to circumstance, his pattern seems to indicate that he will, in fact, let go.
There's a thread about this topic somewhere.
  #27  
Old 04-17-2017, 12:01 AM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is online now
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As near as I can tell, Liberty Mutual insurance is looking for customers with no understanding of how insurance works, and Jack Link's beef jerky is for people who are complete and total assholes.
  #28  
Old 04-17-2017, 11:46 AM
Azeotrope Azeotrope is offline
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Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
There's a car ad where the potential buyer and a salesman are out on a test drive. He tells her about the turbo engine, she floors it. He tells her about the lane assist and she lets go of the steering wheel making the car drift into another lane before the correct stops it. Finally he tells her about the braking assist and she goes "You mean this car can stop itself?" and heads off, presumably right at a tree.

These are safety features, not see how your car can save you features.
And she'll probably end up on one of the Liberty Mutual commercials whining about how her mean ol' insurance company won't give her a brand new car, a million dollars, and a puppy, because apparently the point of auto insurance is to reward you for driving like a lunatic.
  #29  
Old 04-17-2017, 12:29 PM
madmonk28 madmonk28 is offline
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The "can you hear me now?" guy switching from Verizon to Sprint just makes me think he's a sellout, it doesn't make me think Sprint is better.
I think that actor just comes across as pathetic, the pinnacle of his career was being the "can you hear me now guy" and he's still clinging to it.
  #30  
Old 04-17-2017, 12:30 PM
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Before the most recent Canadian federal election, the Conservative party had a radio ad condemning the Liberals idea of making marijuana consumption legal for adults. The ad had a concerned mother arguing that if marijuana was legal for adults to consume, then children would be able to illegally purchase marijuana. I wasn't under the impression that children found it particularly difficult to purchase marijuana in the first place, so the ads seemed kind of pointless to me.
I was always under the impression one could go to any school yard and purchase as much marijuana as he wanted from any school kid. (The hardest part would be going to the school yard - maybe as school lets out?) We supposedly have medical m.j. here, and it's supposedly very expensive and very hard to get a prescription for. Whereas, a young person of my acquaintance assures me if I ever need some for cancer or whatever, they can get me as much as I want - 'it's everywhere!'.
  #31  
Old 04-17-2017, 12:47 PM
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The latest Sonic commercial where the guy complains that "owning a smart phone hasn't made him any smarter". Then he tries to drink his milkshake through the cherry stem.

Oh yeah, I want to eat where this guy eats
  #32  
Old 04-17-2017, 12:51 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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I hated this commercial with the fire of a thousand suns. it basically says "you may suck at being a dad, so at least you can hand him down a VW later."

you know how many kids would love to have a dad who pays attention enough to do things like play catch with them, even if badly? Nope, VW thinks it's better to give him a car which will be a used up, money pit piece of junk by the time he's old enough to drive it.
  #33  
Old 04-17-2017, 07:09 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is online now
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I had a friend who, in the 1980's, became obsessed with cigarette ads, which he claimed were full of death symbology. He had a collection of print ads that he had saved. (This friend, BTW, never smoked tobacco, but he had several other much worse bad-health habits.)

One ad he showed me portrayed a cigarette carton which, he claimed, was drawn to look something like a coffin. (I couldn't see the coffin in it.)

Another ad showed the Marlboro Man, standing on the prairie, staring vacantly off into the distance. Even I could see the problem with that.

My friend's premise was that there was nothing unintentional about it.
  #34  
Old 04-17-2017, 07:35 PM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
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Originally Posted by tripthicket View Post
Well, there is that famous Folgers Christmas commercial...
Best thing is the first YouTube comment:
Quote:
His eyes moved to the red ribbon she had planted on his right pectoral muscle. He saw something in her eyes when she touched him. A recognition of firmness. After all, he was toned to perfection from weeks of rebuilding a church in Rokoray, along the northern banks of the Great Scarcies River. He had met a woman there who reminded him of his sister. He cared for her, taught her a fledgling example of English, had even found himself feeling love for her. That was not a sisterly love however. Then again… was this?
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It's for a psychiatric medication. Right when the voiceover is mentioning suicidal impulses as a side effect, the visual is two women standing on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
lol

Honestly, I find commercials with meaning, however unintended their messages, somewhat refreshing. I don't see many ads these days, but when I do, my general response is ''WTF was that?" Because they really don't even seem to make sense these days.
  #35  
Old 04-17-2017, 08:07 PM
tenacious j tenacious j is offline
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Originally Posted by Donegal Dragon View Post
My problem with ads is using our poor understanding of the English language to mislead us as to what the company is presenting as true. Such as, McDonalds burgers made "with 100% beef", this only means that one of the ingredients used in their manufacture is 100% beef. So if I took a sawdust pattie and dipped it into weak beef stock brewed with an ounce of 100% beef, then their ad would be true.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolf333 View Post
I believe the claim is that the burgers ARE 100% beef. From their site, the Quarter Pounder pattie is:
It's the "made with" that gets me, and probably Donegal Dragon. Burger King chicken fries advertise "made with white meat chicken" but leave out of the ad the starch, water, and whatever else, they toss in there. Not 100% white meat chicken at all.

Along the same lines, one of the buttery spreads- maybe Country Crock?- uses "real ingredients." No shit, everything in there is real? Doesn't say anything about real what...
  #36  
Old 04-17-2017, 09:18 PM
igor frankensteen igor frankensteen is offline
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Another one that still makes me wonder what the hell they were thinking:

Cialis decided to make, as their PRIMARY ICONIC IMAGE, a scene of two older adults, out in the country side somewhere, naked (we assume), sitting in side by side bathtubs.

What is it about taking Cialis, that makes it necessary to remain forever in a bathtub, outside where the wind can keep the air fresh, carefully separated from your spouse? Is this some rather gross disagreeable side effect they don't want us to know ahead of time?
  #37  
Old 04-17-2017, 09:22 PM
igor frankensteen igor frankensteen is offline
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This new AP called "Letgo" has rather nasty ads, too.

They have yet to have had one where the person who actually OWNED the whatever, WANTED TO SELL IT. Someone else always sold it out from under them, without their permission.
  #38  
Old 04-18-2017, 06:10 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Another one that still makes me wonder what the hell they were thinking:

Cialis decided to make, as their PRIMARY ICONIC IMAGE, a scene of two older adults, out in the country side somewhere, naked (we assume), sitting in side by side bathtubs.

What is it about taking Cialis, that makes it necessary to remain forever in a bathtub, outside where the wind can keep the air fresh, carefully separated from your spouse? Is this some rather gross disagreeable side effect they don't want us to know ahead of time?
Another ad agency noticed this. At least it placed the couple in the same hot tub.
  #39  
Old 04-18-2017, 08:10 AM
RikWriter RikWriter is offline
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The thing about that ad that hits me - he says Sprint's reliability is practically the same as Verizon, which is fine if you live somewhere that has Sprint coverage. But he doesn't say anything about coverage - just reliability. What good is reliability if you can't get a signal at your house?
With modern phones, you should be able to use your home wifi for cell calls at home.
  #40  
Old 04-18-2017, 09:04 AM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is offline
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I could never buy a Chevy Cruz after one of the 'real people' in their ad refers to the car as, essentially, a mulletmobile.
  #41  
Old 04-18-2017, 10:33 AM
Horatius Horatius is offline
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There's also a Milky Way commercial where a girl is eating a candy bar while tattooing someone, and misspells the word "regrets" so that it reads "regerts." When the customer points that out, she responds with "sorry...I was eating a Milky Way."

So...Milky Way candy bars cause you to not pay attention to your job, and to suck horribly at the things you attempt to perform? Sounds like a stupid ad campaign: "Milky Way candy bars. They cause you to be inattentive, and your ability to spell correctly to vanish."

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This is reminiscent of a series of KitKat commercials from back in the 80s. The tag line was, "Give yourself a KitKat, give yourself a break". There was one in which a photographer was waiting patiently to take a photo at a zoo enclosure. He eventually decides to take a break to eat his KitKat bar, and while so distracted, fails to notice the pandas suddenly coming out of their cave to prance about, and thus he utterly fails to get the exact photo he'd been waiting to take.

My take away from it was, "Use our product, screw up your job!"
  #42  
Old 04-18-2017, 12:45 PM
Morbo Morbo is offline
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AT&T must have scrubbed it from existence, because I can't find a link to it, but a few years ago they had an ad where a woman was working in her fancy greenhouse, and the husband said something or other about getting a new family plan, and the bitchy wife said something like "I should have married John Clark!"

The punchline (such as it was) was that this service was free, but she didn't know that and was so fed up with his spending habits that she wanted him to know she regrets their life.
  #43  
Old 04-18-2017, 01:04 PM
Miller Miller is offline
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AT&T must have scrubbed it from existence, because I can't find a link to it, but a few years ago they had an ad where a woman was working in her fancy greenhouse, and the husband said something or other about getting a new family plan, and the bitchy wife said something like "I should have married John Clark!"

The punchline (such as it was) was that this service was free, but she didn't know that and was so fed up with his spending habits that she wanted him to know she regrets their life.
I remember that commercial:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Me
"The searing hatred this commercial clearly feels for the wife is a cover for a searing hatred of the very people the commercial is counting on to buy their product. It's a bold and unmistakable indictment of the entire capitalist system, disguised as an advertisement from a major multinational corporation. This is a commercial that says, "If you buy our product, you are what is wrong with the world."

Last edited by Miller; 04-18-2017 at 01:05 PM.
  #44  
Old 04-18-2017, 02:10 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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I vaguely remember an abortion PSA that had a message so ambiguous, I didn't know until the final seconds if it was pro-life or pro-choice.

It wasn't around very long.
  #45  
Old 04-18-2017, 02:14 PM
Morbo Morbo is offline
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That was great. I really wish I were able to find a video of it now.
  #46  
Old 04-18-2017, 03:01 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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It's the "made with" that gets me, and probably Donegal Dragon. Burger King chicken fries advertise "made with white meat chicken" but leave out of the ad the starch, water, and whatever else, they toss in there. Not 100% white meat chicken at all.

Along the same lines, one of the buttery spreads- maybe Country Crock?- uses "real ingredients." No shit, everything in there is real? Doesn't say anything about real what...
How about all the references to "farm grown potatoes"? Where are commercial potatoes USUALLY grown, anyway?
  #47  
Old 04-18-2017, 03:22 PM
arseNal arseNal is offline
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That was great. I really wish I were able to find a video of it now.
Here ya go, tho it seems to have been doctored a little bit making it mildly NSFW:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTat_MA1X3U

ETA: the edit is actually hilarious.

Last edited by arseNal; 04-18-2017 at 03:27 PM.
  #48  
Old 04-18-2017, 03:27 PM
Morbo Morbo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arseNal View Post
Here ya go, tho it seems to have been doctored a little bit making it mildly NSFW:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTat_MA1X3U

ETA: the edit is actually hilarious.
Wow, more bitchy than I remembered. (And the edit was great )
  #49  
Old 04-18-2017, 05:00 PM
Don Draper Don Draper is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 4,757
A classic example of a commercial with an unintended subtext would be Geritol's old "My wife, I think I'll keep her!" campaign, which aroused the anger of feminists.

I think even the makers of Geritol are embarrassed by it now. I tried searching for an example to link to, but I couldn't find one. But given the amount of old 70s/80s-era ads that are on youtube, I thought it was strange that not a single one was available, as if they'd been scrubbed off the net.
  #50  
Old 04-18-2017, 05:27 PM
burpo the wonder mutt burpo the wonder mutt is offline
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Location: NE Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nearwildheaven View Post
How about all the references to "farm grown potatoes"? Where are commercial potatoes USUALLY grown, anyway?
According to my mother, in my ears.
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