Monthly Archives: January 2013

Word of Todd: In Which I Rant About a Talking Pig

By now, you’ve probably seen this:

Which is, of course, a derivative of this:

The latter video is based on a series of admittedly clever Geico commercials. It is amusing to see idioms come to life. It has very little to do with insurance, but hey, that’s advertising. The commerical, while annoying, is nonetheless effective. Most importantly, it makes sense. The pig is integral to the joke the commercial is trying to make.

That was what makes the first commerical up there such a nonsensical train wreck. Here we have the pig, Maxwell, on a plane discussing the merits of the Geico mobile app. Why? Hell if I know. Apparently he has aged quite a bit from his previous appearance, in which he was being driven home by his 12 year old friend’s mom. Also, now he’s an asshole. Since the flight attendant has to remind him to “power down” his phone, they’ve already probably made the announcement. This hints at another commercial trope, the spokesperson that is a douche and why-is-he-representing-your-company-trope. Other things I hate about this:

-Like the Aflac commercials, there’s some random ethnic guy placed at the end just to provide a reaction shot. Is this a winking nod to the audience? Like, “Hey we know this is stupid, this guy can’t believe it either!!”

-Nobody, anywhere, describes in detail an app for insurance to strangers. Also the pig has hooves and can’t operate a smartphone.

-Why would the flight attendant assume he was playing Words with Friends? Is this some thinly veiled swipe at Alec Baldwin from that thing that happened years ago?

Above all, there is no reason for a talking pig to be in this commercial. The only reason he is is because people liked the first commercial. And that is why we get this saturation. The mind of an ad executive works like this. Make something memorable. It doesn’t have to be good or important, but if it is, great. Do people remember it now? Awesome, now make more! And more, more more! This happens all the time, it even happens with Geico, like with the Cavemen getting their own damn TV series. Look at the State Farm commercials, people “doing the jingle” causes State Farm agents to appear and solve all of their problems. But now it’s been stretched so thin as to be annoying and nonsensical.

There’s another Maxwell commercial where he’s riding a zipline, and another where he’s showering. That one tells you at the end that you can download a Maxwell app. Who are these people that do this? Who wants an app from a commercial? Stop feeding the machine! Advertising can be transformative, and make us laugh. The best advertising stands out from the pack and makes you think about something in a different way. Most of even the most successful commercials are momentary, they don’t stick with you for a long time, and that’s fine. But what is worse than a bad commercial? One of the momentary successful ones that won’t leave you alone. SOMEBODY LIKES MAXWELL! WE NEED MORE! MAXWELL THE FREQUENT FLIER! MAXWELL THE ACCOUNTANT! MAXWELL THE DRAG QUEEN!

Let things be good for however long they’re good, especially when it is something so fleeting as a television commercial. Songs get overplayed, TV shows go on too long (The Office, cough cough), and advertisements are already everywhere. Let’s just cool it. Also, let’s try as a society to move on from talking animals. I know we can do better.

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