Monday, March 24

Who are the ad wizards who came up with . . .

Two national ad campaigns have made a big impression on me over the past couple weeks -- one of them a really, really bad impression, the other an awesome one.

Let's do the lousy one first. It's from an employment-leads Web site calling itself The Ladders.

Some bad ads inspire hatred toward the advertising firm but merely pity toward the hapless company that got suckered into buying them. This commercial, however, inspires burning hate-daggers toward both the agency and the company, whose corporate philosophy, if this spot is any indication, can be summed up thusly:

1. If you're making $100,000 a year or more, you are AWESOME.
2. You are BETTER than people who don't make that much.
3. Because those people are bumbling, incompetent half-wits.

I mean, come on: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this ad's message is basically "Life as a six-figure senior executive would be so much grander if we didn't have to deal with these five-figure bozos." I mean, I'm just a schmuck five-figure earner with a stupid old baccalaureate degree and I'm smart enough to figure that out.

And while I may not be a "$100K person," I can tell a snotty, elitist ad when I see it. I mean, if you're aiming for a six-figure position and you're browsing around one one of those "regular" job sites, are we five-figure people getting in your way? Are we stopping you from achieving the paragraph-long job title that's rightfully yours? No; we're simply going about our business the same way you're going about yours. Save for a few ambitious masochists, we're not even applying for the same jobs you are. If our presence frustrates you so much, it's not because we're impeding your job search in any practical way, it's because you just don't want to be breathing the same air as us. So with that in mind, I have an upper-level position here at Hey Jenny Slater you might be interested in: Senior Vice President of Kissing My Ass. The pay not be exactly what you're looking for, but I can assure you you're qualified.

In summation, The Ladders, feel free to suck it. And while I may not be qualified enough for you to care what I think at the moment, I'm pretty sure I'm at least as smart as the titans of industry who were "earning" six figures running Bear Stearns the past few years.

Now for an ad campaign I fricking love: Holiday Inn Express's ads touting their new "hot breakfast bar."

I couldn't find a way to embed the "Let's send her a plate of bacon" ad, but you can watch it (if you haven't already seen it) here.

On a superficial level, this campaign's conceit is easy to get, and it's a cute joke: Ha ha, they're treating their breakfast bar like a bar bar! But the singles' meat-market aspect of a "bar bar" that is featured so prominently in these ads is the key to a deeper subtext that I find both a) very true and b) very awesome.

Let's be honest, people -- specifically, my fellow single members of the workforce: We all love out-of-town work trips. No matter how much of a faceless middle-managing drone we are, no matter how boring the destination, no matter how stingy our bosses are being with the expense account, we love those out-of-town trips. Why? Because it's a change of scenery? On a basic level, yes, but why else? You don't want to admit why out loud, but I'll tell you why: One-night stands. Once we get thrown into this unfamiliar city with a bunch of people we don't know, it is the perfect opportunity to meet a random person from another branch office, or another company, or another university, or whatever, and get invited up to his/her room and fuck like coked-up rabbits. After which point -- and this is kind of important -- we never have to see him/her again.

That's what this ad is really about -- the crazy mating rituals of the sex-starved conventioneer. We've all dreamed of strolling into the hotel bar after a long boring day of seminars, getting a wild hair and sending a Cosmopolitan to the brunette from the Fort Worth office, going up to her room and not parting ways until she calls you daddy; Holiday Inn Express may be trading the Cosmo for a plate of bacon, but the unspoken goal is still there. And they're making this the centerpiece of their national ad campaign. There is something achingly beautiful about the honesty in that.

So, gold star for you and your horny travelin' office drones, Holiday Inn Express; no soup for you, The Ladders. You've got a long, loooong way to go before you achieve "Ranch Tooth" status, that's for damn sure.


Will said...

Personally, I'd avoid hooking up with any girl that turns down a plate of bacon.

Anonymous said...

I had an opposite reaction to yours on both these commercials for not entirely opposite reasons.

The first one I liked, while admitting it was a bit insulting. I think it was more targeted to people doing the hiring, than people looking for jobs. As anyone knows who's ever tried to hire someone from any of the job websites, 98% of the resumes you get are from people who are not even remotely qualified, even though you clearly state what the qualifications are. So you feel like your looking for that pro tennis player hidden behind all the goofballs. You place an ad looking for a person with an MBA or better, 20+ years experience managing a group of 200-300 professionals in the financial services industry and you'll get 500 resumes from people with Jr College degrees whose most responsible job was a night supervisor at a Taco Bell. And to be snobby, but honest, that keeps people with higher qualifications and salary expectations from even bothering to use Hotjobs or any of the others, because they know the employers have stopped using them because the hassle factor is too great. If that company could somehow cull all that out for the hiring person, it would be worth placing your job posting there.

The second one I hate just because I can't stand watching people make complete asses out of themselves, in bars or not. That's why I can't watch another movie with Will Farrell in it. Although I do have sympathy for your road trip hookup argument.

Holly said...

The Ranch Tooth ads scare the bejesus out of me. I would find them uproariously funny, but something about the tooth reminds me of the Sesame Street cartoon typewriter that somehow gave me night terrors as a shorty.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Don't feel bad about that -- remember, you're talking to the guy who was deathly afraid of Mr. Clean when he was four years old.

Anonymous said...

Doug, you are right about The Ladders being totally elitist, but how is it any different from a Lexus ad, a Mercedes ad, even a L'Oreal ad (after all, you're worth it and the rest of the schmucks out there aren't). Most of Madison has been very successful appealing to our inner elitist. This ad may be rubbing it in your personal face a little more than others, but all say: "better people buy our product/use our service". It only works because we don't know how to value ourselves and we let them do it for us.

And Steve, I think you will be sadly disappointed if you use The Ladders to hire from. This sort of place charges people for their 'service'. I suspect what makes you a $100k person is whether you are willing/able to pay their fee, not whether you are actually qualified.

Anonymous said...

You are probably right about the Ladders concept failing. The value they would add is if they took the money they charged and hired people to screen the candidates before passing them on the the hiring companies. It's kind of perverse in that people pay a fee so that they get screened out of jobs opportunity.

The Ladders has a long way to go to prove this concept before anyone with $100k jobs to be had will use them, so it's probably a suckers bet at this point.

And BTW, my guess is the guys who fucked up Bear Stearns were making 7 or 8 figures.

Anonymous said...

Bam! The F-bomb.

Lent has officially ended for Doug.

/tivo-holic who watches damned few commercials, but hates both the ones in question

Will said...

I think a possible explanation for many ads is that the chief ad folks were teenagers in the 60s/70s and did tons of psychedelics. It explains many an odd ad--from the guy peeling off his fucking skin in the AXE ad, to people being followed by a giant tooth with the voice of Adam Corrolla.

beast in 'bama said...

Hate them both.

The one I was hoping you were going to love? Jackie Moon shilling for Old Spice:

It's the finest, street legal anti-perspirant you can get outside of Mexico that isn't toxic.

Jason said...

My favorite ad right now?

That Pontiac G8 ad where they morph from "Spy Hunter" to the car.

That ad is the shit.

Not that I'm ever going to buy a Pontiac.

But still.

Anonymous said...

well, im happy/sad to announce that both of these spots come from the same agency, one that i work for, fallon in minneapolis.

i can see how people are put off by the ladders concept. i have friends who dont like it. but its designed to appeal to the people who dont mind the idea of making 100k. believe me, there are plenty of 'em. tens of thousands sign up every week. (the number more than doubled after the spot ran)

as for the holiday inn spot, i'd like to apologize in advance for any vegans who take offense. is eating bacon human-over-pig elitism?

Anonymous said...

As a bona fide 60s guy with a friend who was an account exec at Leo Burnett, I can assure you that most of the 60s guys who were any good retired by now, and psychedelics only enhanced their product :-)