Tuesday, February 07, 2006

oh, alberto

Our nation's top law enforcement official (via Crooks and Liars): "President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale." (emphasis mine).

OK, here's how it all went down. Skynet began to learn at a geometric rate. It became self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they tried to pull the plug. After Judgment Day, a single machine - a Cyberdyne systems model T101 - was sent back to 1790 with one mission: find Patience Connor.

This machine - this Terminator - felt no pity. No pain. No fear. Musket balls did nothing, and guns took 10 minutes to reload. And the only man who could save Connor and ensure the future survival of the human race was President George Washington.

After several encounters in the bleak urban hellscape of 1790 New York, the Terminator followed Connor and Washington to the abandoned gunpowder mill near Old Man McCoogan's farm in northern Manhattan. The two humans, by now embroiled in a passionate love affair brought on by their desperate circumstances, lured the Terminator into a trap.

As the badly wounded president lay nearby, Connor detonated a mound of old gunpowder and destroyed the machine. "You're terminated, fucker," she said.

President Washington eventually recovered from his injuries, and Patience Connor changed her name to Martha Washington. The two married and had a son, whom they named Abraham Lincoln. The future seemed bright, until Dr. Miles Bennett Dyson, director of the new National Security Agency, brought shocking news to the president.

"We've recovered some remarkable material from the gunpowder mill," he said, gingerly taking intact T101 microchips from the front pocket of his knickerbockers. "Dr. Franklin believes we can use these to build the world's first electronic surveillance system. We're calling it 'SkyNet.'"

President Washington, mindful of the intelligence such a system could provide in case there were any sort of three-lettered affair with a certain country - oh, say, "XYZ" and France - considered Dr. Dyson's proposal for a moment.

His eyes narrowed.

"Do it," he growled. "But don't tell Congress."

Monday, February 06, 2006

in the interests of full disclosure...

I had a Whopper for lunch today.

I took an hour or so out of my morning to write about it, so come lunchtime I figured, "what the fuck - I might as well try it out."

Does this mean that Burger King's commercial caused me to buy their product? In an indirect way, yes.

Here's my question: does that therefore make it a "good" ad?

super thoughts

- Is it me, or did most of the commercials last night look like they were done by a losing corporation in an Apprentice task? Take the Burger King "Whopperettes" commercial. It's a 60 second homage to 1930s Busby Berkeley musicals, with dancing girls dressed up as buns, beef patties and various condiments.

First of all, consider the audience. I'd like to think that we're not a nation of slackjaws, but did Burger King really expect to impress America with the concept and execution of this ad during the biggest football game of the year? "Wow, look at the costumes, and the attention to detail. This is really evocative of the 'Melody of Broadway' number from Gold Diggers of 1935, and- OH SHIT, RANDLE-EL JUST GOT FUCKING JACKED UP ON THAT KICKOFF RETURN!!! Anyway, as I was saying..."

Second, it's 60 seconds long, which for a Super Bowl commercial is an eternity without any overt irony, humor, people hitting/tackling each other and/or farting monkeys.

Third, their one feeble attempt at humor is to have the ingredients of the Whopper - i.e., the dancing girls - fling themselves on top of each other, each landing with an "oof" on top of their fellow foodstuffs as the burger gets built from the bun up.

The whole thing just smells like the vanilla product of ad agency groupthink. Like the products Apprentice losers tend to come up with, it feels like the result of an uninspired, out-of-touch creative team taking the path of least resistance when it comes to concept, then overcompensating in execution. It's as if one of them got the idea after seeing a Berkeley musical late on TCM one night, and the rest of the team went along with it because they couldn't come up with anything better. Then one guy added in the women hurling themselves on top of each other because, well, you have to have physical comedy - it's a Super Bowl ad, after all!

I appreciate the fact that Burger King was going for something big and well-done. I do. Most of the other commercials were just as disappointing, but they all likely fared better because they didn't try to obliterate our lowered Super Bowl ad expectations (see: monkeys, farting). In Burger King's defense, the production value was top-notch (it better have been at $5 million worth of airtime), and the lyrics and choreography do indeed communicate the brand message Burger King has been seeking to establish for quite some time - namely, that the Whopper and other B.K. products are comprised of quality ingredients, and that you can have them all "your way."

And the commercial actually involved the product in question, which is more than you can say for a lot of the more "clever" ads. Though I haven't stepped into a Burger King in at least three years, I must say they made that Whopper sound pretty damn appealing. And I think if this were a campaign that debuted normally at any other time of year (and the commercials were all 30 seconds), it would be pretty effective. It would certainly make me more likely to buy a Whopper than those creepy "The King" ads.

But you know what? Given the fact that it's the Super Bowl, and given the fact that they had 60 seconds during the first stoppage in play, it feels like Burger King should have done so much better. You can just hear the Donald and his underlings in the boardroom:

The Donald: You did a good job with the product, but I kept waiting for something to happen. You had 60 seconds, and it got boring. I didn't know what was going on. I dunno, maybe I'm wrong; what do you think, George?
George: Where were the farting monkeys? There were no farting monkeys. I've been in business for 60 years, and let me tell you: you need farting monkeys.

- Wow, that was a long thought. Anyhoo, congrats to the Steelers, and a word of advice to their fans: don't become Red Sox fans. Please. We all rooted with you for your guys because they're really likable and they're a great story. Don't make us sick of them.

- Was I the only person who thought that the Steelers would be told they need to face the Patriots in the "Real Super Bowl"?