Dude, I’m ready for my close up.

Not to sound like a second-rate comedian but what’s the deal with so many actors in commercials bearded and scruffy? Whether it’s the line of hipsters waiting for iPhones in those much-discussed Samsung commercials or teens around the dinner table or even men at work, everyone looks like an extra from Portlandia. It’s like Night of the Living Baristas.

I realize the real world is being reflected here but perhaps too much? When two out of three guys in any given ad have beards and the other one is a minority then I’m thinking hip has jumped the shark. Don’t get me wrong. Dazed and confused dudes exist. Hell, a bunch of ‘em work at my shop but when they’re selling me shit I get the willies. I notice. And then I can’t stop noticing. If counting beards in TV commercials were a drinking game no one watching for over an hour would be sober. Even historically conservative advertisers have tossed hair clippers out of the wardrobe trailer. From Light beer to Mac & Cheese, every guy looks sort of like every guy I knew in high school, just older. I think.

As for women in ads the adorkable “New Girl” look is getting played more than Adele. And often to extremes. Wendy’s new red head is a cross between Zooey Deshanel and Carrot Top. And she may be successful for her bosses, but Progressive “Flo” makes me shudder in all the wrong ways.

Deschanel, Zooeyimages
Zooey. Wendy. Adorkable!

While I love that minorities are now commonplace in mainstream advertising I wince every time I see that cute African American woman with an Afro like Nefertiti. I never see these women on the street. Only in ads. I tell you it’s bizarre. Do these girls go to casting calls like that or is it done to them by the agency?

Everything has gotten so fucking artsy. Conversely, if we are all so damn hip than why are we watching so much unhip content. Reality TV gets dumber and dumber. You Tube is an avalanche of crud. Sure there are veins of excellence. There always will be. But that’s beside my point, albeit a meager point. I’m poking fun at advertising, specifically casting. I know it’s basically a no-point argument. If casting ignored our changing world it would come off as the Republican Party.

Here’s an idea. What if every actor in Adland wore the same garb with letters on their shirts indicating which character they were playing: Perky Mom, Dumbshit Dad, Bearded Dude #1, Etc… Problem is that would be postmodern, which would quickly become annoying as well.


I was here first y’all!

Progressive or just plain annoying?

My friends at Ad Pulp wrote a post the other day on the ubiquitous “Progressive Insurance Lady.” (She’s doing her thing in the above clip.) Adpulp wondered if folks were grooving on the quirky, in your face character or hating on her. In either case, they correctly noted that she has already left a mark on pop culture.

Or is it a stain? While I must concede her notoriety, I don’t like the character. I don’t like her flirty, in your face attitude. Nor do I like her pseudo hip, cleaned up bohemian shtick. (Ooh, maybe she’s got a tattoo under that nurse outfit!) Can you say Janeane Garofalo? I could go on (and I will) but the bottom line is she drives me crazy in a bad way, not unlike the Verizon “Can you hear me now?” guy.

Fittingly, her name is “Flo,” which, as you know, is also the nickname many women attach to their periods. How apropos!

That said, according to a linked article on Adpulp, a growing number of people are enamored of the Progressive Girl; as a matter of fact, she seems to be attracting a cult following. By the way, the actress’s name is Stephanie Courtney and she claims to be “floored” by all the attention she’s getting.

Enjoy it while you can, Steph, it may become your legacy. Like Madge “You’re soaking in it” or the above-mentioned Verizon geek, you are rapidly becoming a human stain on our culture. You are conspicuous and hard to forget. As I implied in the opening, this may or may not be a bad thing for the advertiser. That all depends on what you think advertising is supposed to do. If sales and awareness are up it’s hard to argue with her. We still can, by the way. And sometimes should. If an ad campaign achieves its primary goals that does not absolve it of any wrong doing. Remember the yipping Chihuahua for Taco Bell?

But is Progressive building its client base? Just because a group of viewers developed a stalker-like fetish over this whitewashed hipster doesn’t mean the brand is deriving any benefit. If the Progressive Insurance Chick has a fan club, are any of its members switching to Progressive? I doubt it.

Characters we love to hate fascinate me. Maybe she’s one of those? I don’t know. Right now I just hate her. A lot. In fairness, and in conclusion, I should point out that it could be the scripts I dislike more so than the actor. So far the spots I’ve seen are cloying and pushy. And what’s with all that white space? Kind of reminds me of a 70’s version of heaven…for reasons unknown.

The Adpulp story

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