Commercial Breakdown

Commercial Breakdown #6: Doritos 3D’s (featuring Sean Hayes and Ali Landry)

The late ‘90s were a weird time: The world was over run with terrible boy bands, yo-yos made a random comeback and Doritos were three-dimensional for whatever reason. To usher in a brave new world of three-dimensional chips, Doritos enlisted Sean Hayes and former Miss USA Ali Landry to star in their over-the-top new Super Bowl ad. It was one of the first in the brand’s now long-standing tradition of advertising during the Big Game.

When you watch the ad, you’ll find that it makes little to no sense. Landry catches the attention of Hayes and the random guy beside him. They then try to get her attention by doing tricks with a bag of Doritos. Landry takes a bag of Doritos 3D’s from Hayes (and whoever is next to Hayes), pours the bag into a dryer and the door swings wide open flinging Doritos aggressively across the laundromat, while Landry catches them in her mouth. Hayes has only one line… “Aye, chihuahua.”

The ad is probably more memorable than the chips itself. I vaguely remember having Doritos 3D’s as a kid, and perhaps the only reason why I remember them at all is because of this ad. Well, I was really young when they came out, too, so that probably didn’t help. Continue reading

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Commercial Breakdown #5: Concerned Children’s Advertisers (‘Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth’)

Concerned Children's Advertisers (screenshot via YouTube)

Concerned Children’s Advertisers (screenshot via YouTube)

Of all the weird things from the 90s tattooed into my memory, the “Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth” Concerned Children’s Advertisers PSA has to be one of the strangest. That’s quite a feat considering the tail end of the 90s also saw the launch of YTV’s “Keep It Weird” era among other trippy things.

In retrospect, the PSA was unsettling for a number of reasons. The puppets and their voices were so lame and creepy that I bet you’ll have a hard time ever forgetting them. The most troubling aspect, however, is that once you get to a certain age “Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth” seems like a horrible double entendre. While the PSA’s purpose on the surface may seem as if it’s to sway youngsters from accidentally ingesting something harmful, it doesn’t take much to interpret it as an anthem against oral sex.

Stuff of nightmares (screenshot via YouTube)

Stuff of nightmares (screenshot via YouTube)

As the song featured in the PSA was written in a way that makes what exactly you shouldn’t put in your mouth a bit ambiguous, it just made matters worse. To be fair, the two-minute long version gave the song some context, but this was all missing in the minute-long version. The longer version mentioned if you eat bad food, someone else’s medicine or something poisonous, you could get sick; however, that was cut out in the shorter version and left the somewhat suggestive “always ask someone you love before you put anything in your mouth” at the end. Honestly, I thought the only way it could’ve gotten worse is if the lion added “especially if someone offers you birthday cake when it’s not your birthday.”

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Screenshot of one of the latest “Just for the taste of it” ads

Commercial Breakdown #4: Diet Coke (‘Just for the taste of it’ featuring Batman, Demi Moore, Paula Abdul and friends)

If you know me, you know Diet Coke is like a running gag in my life. So, naturally, I felt I had to write a blog post about it. Since Diet Coke revived their old slogan, “Just for the taste of it,” now seems to be as good of a time as any to write one.

The slogan, “Just for the taste of it,” (initially “You’re going to drink it just for the taste of it”) has been used in Diet Coke ads since its launch, virtually worldwide. (If you don’t believe me, check out this early Australian Diet Coke commercial.)

Screenshot of “You're On” Diet Coke ad

Diet Coke quickly dropped the “You’re on” campaign as people thought it was referencing being on cocaine (screenshot via YouTube/Diet Coke)

The revival of “Just for the taste of it” might have something to do with Diet Coke’s “You’re on” campaign being reportedly mocked on social media and eventually scrapped because, well, people took it to mean you’re on cocaine.

Screenshot of Paula Abdul “Just for the taste of it” ad

Paula Abdul had some epic Diet Coke ads in the early 90s (screenshot via YouTube)

However, the slogan, “Just for the taste of it,” as far as I’m concerned, is based on a lie. When have you ever heard anyone say, “You know what I’d really like, Coca-Cola, but not just any Coca-Cola, but Coke with the taste of artificial sugar. I could use one right now…just for the taste of it.” Never ever. Well, that’s unless you remember the old Diet Coke campaign, which featured the likes of Paula Abdul dancing in something resembling a crystal palace or on a giant piano while singing “just for the taste of it.”
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Commercial Breakdown #3: Chrysler (Drive & Love featuring Céline Dion vs. Imported from Detroit featuring Eminem and Clint Eastwood)

Huh, what? Céline Dion was a Chrysler spokesperson? Yep, believe it or not she appeared in a full-blown ad campaign for the automaker. For the few who remember, her tenure was short-lived, but there were still a handful of ads produced for the likes of the PacificaTown & CountryCrossfire and Sebring, along with the one above for the brand on a whole. The campaign was supposed to go for three years but only lasted a year and cost Chrysler $14 million. Dealers argued the ads seemed to be selling her, instead of Chrysler’s cars and even Chrysler’s own ad agency was against it. When you watch the ads, you might get an understanding of what the dealers meant and why their advertising agency was not a fan. There’s no mention of fuel efficiency, safety or legroom. The ads were artsy, black and white, featured Céline and a Chrysler and that was pretty much it.

So, what did Céline Dion have to do with a Chrysler? Continue reading

Commercial Breakdown #2: Apple Macintosh (“Power Is…” campaign featuring Spike Lee)

In the 90s, Apple was in the doldrums, and by 1997, people were ready to declare it dead, but as we all probably know by now Steve Jobs stepped in and turned it around. Now it’s one of the most valuable companies on the planet.

The ad above reportedly aired in 1995, that’s a few years before Steve Jobs returned to Apple, and it’s interesting for a number of reasons.

First, it’s notable because it features Spike Lee. Many of Apple’s ads today don’t feature celebrities. There have been a handful of ads (perhaps most notably a few for the iPhone 4S), but mostly they’re solely focused on the product, how pretty and shiny they are and what their features are. (That’s especially true for the early iPhone and iPad ads when the general public may have not been aware of their full potential.)

Second, the ad made repeated references to slavery (which is an odd move for any company), and it played off black identity in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen Apple do since.

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Commercial Breakdown: McDonald’s McDLT (featuring Jason Alexander)

For the first ever Commercial Breakdown, I thought we should head back to the wacky decade that was the ’80s. A lot of crazy things happened in the ’80s, like millions of people tuned in to see a puppet alien named Alf try to eat some poor family’s cat, Coca-Cola had the genius idea to replace the formula of Coke with a new one only to bring back the old formula weeks later and then there was this: The McDonald’s McDLT. 

What was the McDLT? It was essentially a Quarter-Pounder with Cheese where McDonald’s separated the cold veggies from the hot patty for some reason. If that doesn’t sound astoundingly stupid by itself wait till you see the ad.

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