Before I begin my rant, I would like to address the hiatus I have been on. I have needed some time to myself in true introverted INFP fashion. I am sorry to have disappeared and am anticipating that there will not be another hiatus for a while. Seriously. I am sorry. That being said, on to the topic at hand:
While spending some quality alone time, I have been watching television commercials. Actually, I have been watching reruns of Star Trek TNG that I have DVR’ed to watch when I am in the mood for something I can pay attention to if I want but can be distracted from by doing laundry or cleaning or whatever if the need arises. And like many people living in this day and age, I can fast forward through commercials if I choose just get to the show I am watching. I decided a couple of days ago to act like life was in the old days, when you couldn’t fast forward and just sit through the commercials, which I tend to not do anymore because of the technology I have access to (which is killing humanity but that is a post for another day).
I found myself thinking, “What were these people thinking when they came up with that?” I wonder because some of the ads are just plain stupid. Yet they work to do what the advertiser wants. Most people I am acquainted with who live in the Chicagoland area know Eagleman. Who doesn’t remember Victory Auto Wreckers? All horrible commercials but we know them, and that is what the advertiser wanted. They had to know their commercials were just plain dumb. It was the strategy they wanted to use.
But there are commercials and marketing that is meant to be funny or empowering or just “fun” but really ends up backfiring. I got to thinking about marketing that has really irked me in recent months. The most recent offender is Snapple Diet Half & Half.
The commercial may be viewed on Youtube by clicking here.
Why is this commercial so bothersome to me? It’s because from the first second I saw this commercial, I was overwhelmed by the racist imagery in it. Snapple may be made from the “best stuff on Earth” but the people who came up with this commercial certainly are not. At first it may seem innocuous enough. A bunch of co-workers are sitting around discussing a new beverage. Half lemonade, half iced tea, but soon an argument erupts with one man claiming the lemonade is better and another claiming the iced tea is the better half of the drink. Interestingly, the commercial has a person of Asian descent playing the man who prefers the lemonade and a man of African descent playing the iced tea fan.
What were they thinking? Hey let’s cast an actor from an ethnic group that has historically been referred to as “yellow” as the lemonade fan, which also is yellow. Let’s cast someone who is of African heritage to be the iced tea lover. Black tea=black guy? Hey their skin tones will complement their beverage choices as well as the ludicrous costumes that we have selected for them to wear? The most bothersome part of the commercial for me is the very end, where the two foes are battling it out in a pit of sorts with crowds cheering on their respective contenders and the camera takes the view of two of the co-workers from the original group looking down on the ridiculously clad opponents, with one inquiring about which he prefers to which the other replies, “Who cares when it tastes so good?”. Did I mention that these two are Caucasian?
So to sum up what I saw in this commercial: Yellow guy likes yellow lemons, black guy likes black iced tea, they fight over something utterly ridiculous, while white guys look down on them and don’t even care what the rumble is about because let’s face it, those guys in the pit fighting are laughable and don’t matter anyway. Drink Snapple.
I mentioned this to a couple of people and they said I was reading too much into it. Maybe I am. But other people saw exactly what I saw and here is another article that commented on it.
People see what they want to and sometimes they choose not to see things that are right in front of their faces. As a person who has for several years looked at literature specifically to try and analyze underlying messages and contextual ideas in written works, I know that my perception of things is a little different from people who just watch a commercial because it is funny or because they may like the product being pitched. Sometimes a book is just a book and a picture is just a picture. Advertising is a calculated message to try and get more sales. I am not sure what the brains behind this ad were trying to do with such a terrible commercial. Which is why I ask, “What were they thinking?”