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. So it is written …
Okay, real talk: we were shooting an ad for a “male enhancement drug”, the project fell through, so we overdubbed some lines, added a few new shots, and boom: it’s a credit score commercial.
In what’s becoming a trend here on Ad Space, we look at a commercial trying to associate itself with stereotypical Manliness!, but in a half-satirical way, where you’re not sure if they want you to actually buy that line, or to laugh at them taking the piss out of masculinity (the answer is: both. It’s always both).
But this one gets rather more … direct than the others. Which is saying something, as we looked at a Dr. Pepper commercial that literally shouted, “It’s not for women!“
In case anyone didn’t get the innuendo at play (likely the same people who thought the Folgers’ siblings were just brother and sister), they’re trying to equate having a high credit score with having a large penis.
They push that angle hard. They don’t try to hide it, just put it all up in your face. Early on you think maybe they’ve finished with it, but no, that was just the tip. It keeps going bigger, going longer, really pounding that point in. And it ends with the guy leaving a wet mess on the ground for someone else to clean up.
Okay, I’ll stop now.
With ads like this, I find there’s a sort of Obnoxiousness Valley you either have to avoid going into, or go so far into you come out the other side. You could make a short version of this commercial that just has the sitting-at-the-bar scene: do the “I used to have a small one, now I have a really big one” bit, then switch to talking about the actual product, and bang, you’re done. That’d be a short little fakeout joke, good for a quick laugh, nothing to get annoyed or offended about.
But then they just kept going with it. Sometime between the inflatable-flailing-arm-tube-man and the urinal chat, they began to lose me. Not only did the joke wear thin, but they can only harp on male size insecurity so much before it begins to feel like they’re the ones way too obsessed with it.
I’m sure for some people, that’s where their final opinion of the ad ended up. But for me, around the point when they changed the teeny golf club for the massive golf club, it started being funny again. It’s that weird facet of comedy where if a joke’s played out, but you keep doing it anyway, eventually your sheer commitment to the joke becomes the joke. I felt this ad achieved that.
Plus, closing with the pitchman being an asshole to waiters and Canadians for no reason, makes me feel like they knew how much tongue their cheek needed.