Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.
(Poster’s note: in reading the comments, I realized I probably wasn’t clear with my criticisms here. I do certainly understand that ads are not to be taken literally, and advertising hasn’t been about the actual qualities of the product for decades. We talk about that in the book, even. I was more taken by this particular approach itself, and how I found the conceit itself inane. That said, most of the comments that advertising is not about the product is right on the money, and that right there is a good thing to keep in mind.) Since our book is about advertising, let’s talk about some ads. Some awful ads.
If you could find someone totally unaware of what a Twix bar was (friendly alien, unfrozen pilgrim, etc.) and showed them these current crop of Twix ads, and then asked them what Twix bars were, I bet you’d get an answer like “Twix bars? Aren’t they those crunch-activated time-stopping rods?”
And that assessment would be totally justified, based on these ads. They’re relying on the tenuous idea that we’re all not drooling idiots to take this literally, because the only qualities of a Twix bar demonstrated in these commercials are the ability of the Twix bar to stop time. There’s nothing mentioned of the taste, the crunch, the dubious energy benefit– all the usual candy bar selling points– just the bold suggestion that these crunchy little logs have colossal power over the time-space continuum. I know no one really thinks they can do that, and this is just an advertising conceit, but it’s strange when the big marketing appeal of your product is the freedom it gives you to be a jackass.
Before we get anything further, I should make it very clear that they can’t stop time. I’ve said some truly awful, offensive things to people, and when I’ve tried to use a Twix bar in the demonstrated manner, I’ve just come off looking even more like an idiot, but this time an idiot with a dripping mouthful of half-masticated candy and a panicked, confused look in his eye.