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Archive for March 4th, 2013|Daily archive page

EXIT THE GECKO, ENTER THE PIG AND BULLY

In Bureaucracy, Business, Social commentary on March 4, 2013 at 11:53 pm

There’s been a changing-of-the-guard at GEICO insurance.

Exit the understated, British-accented gecko.

Enter the pig–and the grunting black bully.

For years GEICO has taken a light-hearted, humorous approach to its advertising.

The company that designed these ads accomplished the seemingly impossible:  It recruited a friendly reptile as its spokesman and, in doing so, turned a dull subject like insurance into something fun.

Remember the ad about the towering GEICO executive who tells the gecko: “GEICO is about trust.  So let’s demonstrate how that trust works.  I’ll fall backward–and you catch me.”

And as the man starts to fall back, the gecko mutters, “Oh, dear.”

But apparently GEICO wanted something more than humor in its advertising–something that would shake up those who watched it.

And the ads the company is now running will definitely do that.  But GEICO may wind up regretting it.

Enter the new GEICO spokesman: a pig–porcine, hairless, goofy-voiced.  And he’s sitting in the driver’s seat of a stalled car next to a beautiful brunette.

And it’s clear the woman is clearly feeling aroused and wants to do something romantic.  Or, maybe the word for it is perverted.

But the pig is–fortunately–nervous, and just wants to talk about how wonderful GEICO is.

Now, think about this for a moment.

If you’re Jewish, Hindu or Muslim, eating pork is strictly forbidden.  The meat is considered “unclean” because pigs don’t sweat–thus trapping all the impurities within.

So if you’re an adman who wants to design commercials that will appeal to the widest number of viewers, you’ve already flunked out.

And if eating pork is verboten to millions of Jews, Muslims and Hindus, having a romantic tryst with a pig is off-limits to anyone outside the confines of a porno theater.

After all, how twisted do you have to be to date out of your own species?

So what is the message GEICO is trying to send here?  That if you buy GEICO insurance, you can make it with a beautiful chick even if you’re a pig?

Then there’s the bullying black basketball player as GEICO sales rep–played by real-life former basketball star Dikembe Mutombo.

Mutombo is a Congolese American retired professional basketball player who once played for the Houston Rockets.  He was an eight-time All-Star and a record-tying four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

Outside of basketball, he has become known for his humanitarian work.

But you’d never know it by the GEICO ad.

First, clad in basketball attire, he darts into an office and throws something at a startled executive and his secretary.

Then, grunting, he appears in a laundromat and prevents a woman from tossing clothing from a dryer to her cart by knocking it out of the air as she throws it in.  Then he wiggles his finger at her.  Thus the woman ends up with a clean garment made dirty.

Finally, he charges into a supermarket and knocks a cereal box out of the hands of a little boy as he’s about to toss it into a shopping cart.  The box explodes, spilling cereal onto the floor and the little boy as the grunting black man races off.

GEICO Dikembe Mutombo Commercial – Happier Than Dikembe Mutombo Blocking a Shot

What is the message GEICO is trying to send here?  That violence and intimidation are fun?  That you’d better buy GEICO insurance–or else?

Even more ominous: This ad premiered during the week that another bullying black man was making headlines across the nation.

From February 3 to 12, Christopher Dorner, a former member of the Los Angeles Police Department, waged war on the LAPD.

Dorner blamed the agency for his firing in 2008.  First he published a “manifesto” on his Facebook page and then set about a killing spree that killed four people.  Two police officers died, and three others were wounded.

The rampage ended on February 12, in an isolated cabin near Big Bear Lake, California.  Surrounded by lawmen from several police agencies, the cabin set ablaze by pyrotechnic tear gas, Dorner shot himself in the head rather than surrender.

It’s likely that these ads will join a parade of others that produced results other than those intended:

  • Pepsi’s slogan, “Come alive with Pepsi” bombed in China, where it was translated into: “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”
  • The Dairy Association’s slogan, “Got milk?” became–when translated into Spanish–“Are you lactating?”
  • Purdue Chicken thought it had a winner with: “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.”  But the Spanish mistranslation came out: “It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate.”

Clearly the executives at GEOCO need to ask themselves two questions:

  1. What are we trying to achieve with these commercials?
  2. What messages are these ads sending to our targeted audiences?

More often than not, there is a disconnect between the two.

As in the case of the latest GEICO commercials.

BOOBS AND BUREAUCRATS

In Bureaucracy, Social commentary on March 4, 2013 at 12:19 am

Those who watched the 85th Academy Awards on February 24 witnessed some truly moving episodes:

  • Dame Shirley Bassey, at 76, still able to belt out the title song to the classic James Bond film, “Goldfinger.”  True, she could no longer hit some of the high notes she reached almost 50 yearss ago.  But she made up for that with the final line–“He loves gold!”–where the word “gold” seemed to last forever.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis receiving a standing invitation when he won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of America’s 16th President in “Lincoln”.  The audience seemed to be paying tribute not only to his brilliant performance but to the greatness of Abraham Lincoln himself.
  • Adele’s turning the latest James Bond song, “Skyfall,” into a beautiful anthem of love and defiance in the face of oblivion.

But these wonderful episodes were proceeded by one that wasn’t so wonderful:

We saw your boobs
We saw your boobs
In the movie that we saw, we saw your boobs.
Meryl Streep, we saw your boobs in “Silkwood”
Naomi Watts’ in “Mulholland Drive”
Angelina Jolie, we saw your boobs in “Gia”
They made us feel excited and alive.

Yes, that was Seth MacFarlane’s opening number as host of the show.

As he danced and “sang” across the stage,, no doubt many viewers were stunned by the sheer juvenile antics of the segment.  It was is if a classroom of junior high-school boys had been turned loose to “honor” the actresses they most wanted to boff.

Anne Hathaway, we saw your boobs in “Brokeback Mountain”
Halle Berry, we saw them in “Monster’s Ball”
Nicole Kidman in “Eyes Wide Shut”
Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler,” but
We haven’t seen Jennifer Lawrence’s boobs at all.

Making it all the more bizarre: MacFarlane was accompanied by the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus.  For this group, the lyrics “We Saw Your Butt” would have been far more appropriate.

Here was a group of tuxedo-wearing men, supposedly paying tribute show to the greatest actresses in today’s Hollywood.  So what did they “pay tribute” to?

The actresses’ singing talent?

Their acting talent?

Their greatest roles?

Don’t be stupid.

What the song failed to mention, however, was that several of the actress’ topless moments occurred during rape scenes.

Actress Jane Fonda–no stranger to sexually-alluring films–offered a scathing commentary on her website:

“I agree with someone who said, ‘If they want to stoop to that, why not list all the penises we’ve seen?’

“Better yet, remember that this is a telecast seen around the world watched by families with their children and to many this is neither appropriate or funny.”

So the question naturally arises: Why didn’t this occur to the men–and Hollywood is still almost entirely a man’s world–planning the 2013 Oscars?

This is, after all, Hollywood’s most important show.  Those who oversee this event must decide:

  • Who will be chosen as host.
  • Who will be invited as guests.
  • The songs that will be showcased.
  • The number of rehearsals.
  • The best wasy to provide security for the attendees.

Given the time and effort devoted to making this “Hollywood’s finest hour,” someone should have said: “This is a disgusting skit that will offend every actress at the ceremony–and God knows how many viewers!”

Many reviewers of the Oscars ceremony have put the blame entirely on MacFarlane.  After all, the “humor” of the song was very much in keeping with the offensive material found in his comedy series, Family Guy.

One Family Guy show featured a musican number called “Down’s Syndrone Girl.”  Among its lyrics:

You wanna take that little whore
And spin her on the dancing floor,
But boy, before you do a single twirl,
You must impress that effervescing,
Self-possessing, no BS-ing
Down’s Syndrome girl.

Click here: Family guy – that down syndrome girl – YouTube

But the Oscars isn’t a one-man show.  It’s a huge assembly of talent–singers, dancers, choreographers, lighting technicians, makeup artists, special effects masters.

Not to mention a parade of distinguished actors, singers and directors chosen to present awards to those who are to be honored.

Any number of these people could have spoken up and said: “I refuse to be a part of a show that disgraces itself in this way.”

But if any one person must assume final blame for this number, it’s Howard Winchel “Hawk” Koch, Jr., the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Koch is a movie producer and assistant director, and the former road manager for the musical groups The Dave Clark Five and The Supremes.

Among the film successes with which he’s been involved: The Way We Were (1973); Chinatown (1974); Marathon Man (1976); Heaven Can Wait (1978).

Clearly the instincts that brought him so far through the entertainment business utterly failed him at the 2013 Oscars.

So, ultimately, the buck has to stop with Koch.  But everyone else who held a supervisory position with the event stands equally guilty.

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