Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ramblings About TV Commercials

So many targets, so little bandwidth!

Fortunately, these are RANDOM ramblings, so without stopping to justify my choices, I tuck right in.

Today's Topic: ExtenZe Male Enhancement!

No, I'm not offended by the topic. I'm offended by the dorky dishonesty of the ad. Oh, I don't mean I believe the product doesn't do what it claims to do. And speaking of disclaimers, there is one, in teeny tiny print, for a teeny tiny period of time, reminding those of us who couldn't figure it out that the enhancement is only effective as long as the enhancee continues to consume the product. You'd almost think they didn't want you to read that. (On the website is a much cleverer little ad, presumably containing the same disclaimer, but in print so small it could, for all the reader knows, be saying "Nyah nyah nyah NYAH nyah, you are insecure about your weewee!" At least the website uses the word "penis" [in print]; like the TV ad, the voiceover is still stuck with "that certain part of a man's body.")

The TV ad features two female spokespersons, neither claiming any expertise in male enhancement beyond whatever goes along with their (grasping here for an accurate description without emotional weight) slutty (okay, I failed) appearance; Doctor Daniel S. Stein, who says he has PERSONALLY "researched" this product; a pair of actors portraying a couple shyly eager to check out the product's benefits; and an interviewer presumably stopping couples on the street to ask them how they liked the product.

Let's start with the commercial's irritating coyness. First we get direct appeals from the spokeswomen and the doctor. The dark-haired spokeswoman (the other is blonde)
is going to lose an eyelash if she keeps batting hers that way whenever she says "certain part." Even the doctor uses the phrase, although I don't recall his level of eyelash battage. Then we get the indirect appeal of the little drama. The young wife hears "male enhancement" and naively says, "Oh, you mean like for muscles?" (I may be paraphrasing; I am not by the TV.) "No," corrects the husband, adding meaningfuly, "Male ENHANCEMENT."

There's nothing wrong with the little drama but it's baffling after the direct appeal, and then the commercial switches gears again and takes us to the street. This part is more than baffling; it's ludicrous! If someone were giving away a product that could be consumed or otherwise used on the spot, such as chocolate, popcorn or hand lotion, a man-on-the-street interview would make sense. Likewise it makes sense if you're asking people's opinions of subjects that should be common knowledge, such as election affairs, TV shows or celebrities. But a male enhancement product? Are we to assume every man uses one, and a random sampling of pedestrians on an urban street will produce even a handful of men who not only use such a thing but wish to speak spontaneously to millions of viewers about it?

The product itself targets the sexually insecure; the advertisers seem insecure themselves, not willing to commit to one style of communication, and not willing, either, to commit to a straightforward (or humorous, if they chose -- there are some cute moments in the website video) presentation. This insecurity does not increase the viewers' confidence in the ad or, by (guffaw) extension, the product.

Well, it's not my concern, I suppose. I just hate to see less keenly observant folks have their legs (or whatever) pulled.

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