Saturday, April 3, 2010

Big Red, For Better or Worse

My House episodes on Hulu are periodically interrupted by a Verizon Wireless commercial that seems to have the theme of "better with Big Red" (you can view the commercial at AdFreak here). Initially, I placed the spot at approximately the level of Diesel's "Be Stupid" campaign and couldn't imagine who the commercial appealed to. Not only is the jingle a ferocious ear-worm, the commercial seemed to send a message that is, um, pathetic. The kids are stuck on the phone at the campsite rather than participating in what is going on around them, the porter makes his "boring job much better" and you can "download stupid stuff much better" with Big Red (and Verizon is now Big Red? Seriously?). I find advertising that implies--or asserts!--that its audience/consumers are idiots incomprehensible. I reason that if users of a certain product or service are idiots by the company's own admission, then it's better to self-select out of that group. The Verizon users in the spot do seem like people I'd rather avoid, on the level of people who text during dinner parties or who are on their phones in museums. I was ready to mute my computer during the commercial's Hulu interruptions and condemn Verizon to ad purgatory.

Luckily, I decided to do a bit of research to determine if the "Better with Big Red" spot was truly as bad as it appears. Imagine my surprise when I discovered what has probably been obvious to my older readers from the beginning: the commercial is a parody of a classic Big Red gum commercial! Further, "Big Red" is apparently a nickname given to Verizon by its customers, rather than manufactured by the company itself. Sigh of relief! Now I can finally bear to give Verizon credit for the single thing I liked in the commercial: the "YouTube on a horse" moment, which seems to be a reference to the famous Old Spice commercial which is rapidly gaining the status of classic in its own right. If this isn't a reference to Old Spice, ignorance is bliss.