Ad Space: Verizon vs. Ponies

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so.

The Product:
Verizon Wireless and its then hot-new cell phones, the Venus and Chocolate.

The Promotion:

The Pitch:
Cellphones make better Christmas gifts than ponies … because ponies are terrible.

It’s a common technique in commercials: offer someone a wonderful, expensive, even miraculous gift, and have them hate it because what they really want is whatever product you’re selling. It suggests your product is just that good, but in a funny, lightly ironic way.

What makes this ad stand out is that it goes a step beyond that and deconstructs the whole idea of “girls want ponies as a present”. That’s an old, old trope; a stock example of a child asking for an unrealistically expensive and impractical present. But really, how many girls would actually want a pony? Especially if the alternative is getting a new cellphone?

It’s a fun, subversive twist to the ad, and the actors and director play it beautifully. I don’t know if they sold me on buying a Verizon phone, but they definitely sold me on being scared of ponies.

Bonus: if you look closely, the girl who got the pony has bandages on her fingers, because, “Does he … bite?” “Yeah.”