New Lows in Advertising

10 Aug

We all accept that advertising is rampant, annoying, and to an increasing extent, subliminal. Commercials on the TV and radio are still around and as irritating as ever, but the hard-core bids are buried in the show. (Like colorful Easter eggs!) I try to be zen about it generally: being sucked in by a well-done campaign on occasion is OK as long as I recognize it as such. (Advertising to kids, on the other hand, who patently can’t recognize it as such? That just ain’t right. Especially with these devious methods). It’s actually kind fun to play Spot the Product Placement.

Friday night drinking game, anyone?

I’ve even grudgingly accepted the 15 extra minutes of radio ads I endure on my morning commute now that The Bert Show is syndicated. But the one thing I really can’t abide is a straight-up commercial INSIDE the show.

Enter MasterChef.  MC is one summer program I like to catch when I don’t have anything better to do of a Monday evening. (And let’s face it—that’s most of them). I have no knowledge of or relish for cooking, which means I’m free to lean back and enjoy without critiquing (something I can’t do for my other favorite summer show—So You Think You Can Dance). That’s why I almost fell off the couch when the judges laid out a challenge involving these “Beautiful. Amazing. Walmart steaks!”

Coming out of the mouth of Gordon Ramsay, who as a Michelin-starred chef and a Brit besides has probably never purchased so much as a banana from Walmart, it was jarring.  But it didn’t end there—as the amateur chefs were frantically preparing the meal (made entirely of ingredients available at Walmart for $15), the chef-judges could be “overheard” discussing the fine qualities of Walmart beef. One of the contestants even spouted some line about how her entire view of Walmart was changed by this single challenge. It was ridiculous.

And that’s not all folks. Not even three episodes later, I nearly threw my cat at the TV when the featured food was, AGAIN, Walmart steaks! They could have at least picked a different foodstuff for variety.  Perchance the mega-retailer carries Cornish game hen? And of course, they had to have another discussion amongst themselves about the exquisite delectability of Wally T-bones.

These stunts make me less likely to shop there, not more. I realize the overlap between people who shop at Walmart and people who watch prime time reality shows is substantial. But please don’t insult our intelligence. We may not be that smart, but we know that rich celebrity chefs do not buy their food at large discount chains. We know you get a kickback every time you say the word Walmart (kinda wishing the same was true for me right now). Sheesh.  Now we’re not even allowed to wash our trashy TV shows in peace.  Is nothing sacred anymore?!

If Walmart wants to pay for everything in the kitchen (and they probably did), I have no problem with that—I just don’t want to hear about it. Or should I say, I’m already hearing about it. You really don’t need to pound me over the head with it.

I’ll take my indirect marketing a little more indirectly, MKTHANKS.

Evidently not everyone agrees with me. Rene Lynch at the LA Times:

Random query: Does it bother you that Walmart’s name was all over the mystery box challenge? I thought it was cleverly done. I’m sure viewers had the same thought I did: “You can buy a big, fat T-bone and all that other stuff at Walmart for only $15?!?!” I understand I’m being advertised to, and I like it better than sitting through a commercial.

Sure, Rene. But you can mute a commercial. Or better yet, go to the kitchen to get some delicious Publix frozen yogurt.

8/15 UPDATE: Were you guys watching last night? Did you see the pressure test? Did you see them have to cook Walmart steaks for the 3rd time in a season???? Did you picture me hopping off my balance ball and heaving it at the wall? Cuz that’s what happened.
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One Response to “New Lows in Advertising”

  1. vividwhite August 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    I think I have a love-hate relationship with advertisements. On one hand, I want a career in advertising or marketing or even public relations. But then on the other, I just really hate how every which way I turn theres always something eye catching that is not letting me think for myself…like dang it McDonalds! That’s a really nice looking fruit smoothie but I just ate a four-course meal and I am NOT going to buy this. Well,…a small wont hurt.

    There is a saturated amount of advertisements and since WE are so use to the ads, we choose to ignore them which advertising firms have to think of new places to advertise. Unfortunately now we can’t even escape commercials during TV programming. I’m glad I wasn’t the only person to notice it on Masterchef! Great read by the way!

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