Flo’s gotta go.
So does the lizard.
So does the red-haired woman with the tool belt.
And so do the hoofers in the big production number.
And those people dressed up as vegetables, mustard bottles and cardboard boxes? Get rid of ‘em!
You’d have to be living under a rock not to know what I’m referring to – TV commercials. Endlessly repeated ads, a witless barrage that assaults our senses, insults our intelligence, batters and bruises our good moods.
TV commercials have long been my biggest pet peeve, far worse than my other top two peeves – wobbly tables and misplaced apostrophes. I don’t dislike ads in magazines or newspapers. Unlike TV ads, they don’t punch me in the face. Some TV ads (very few) I thought clever and comical – at first. But not after seeing or hearing them a dozen times. After the 10,000th time, after months and months – even years – of exposure to the same ads, I often feel like filing a lawsuit on the grounds of mental cruelty and visual/audio assault.
Here are the ones, among many others, that most drive me up a wall:
- Flo of Progressive Insurance ads. She is supposed to be so cute, so sassy, so clever – a mischief-making pixie chick in her insurance wonderland. Trouble is, she has long outworn her welcome. She is no longer cute or pixie-clever. She’s dull. Tiresome. Intolerable. A boring royal pain in the butt. Go Flo! Get lost! Leave us alone!
- The “cute” little Geiko gecko lizard with an Australian accent. This reptilian critter thunk up by some corporate ad wonk is meant to warm the cockles of our hearts. He’s been irritating me on a daily basis for years. We are supposed to smile (“Oh, for cute!”) and chuckle at the gecko’s dumb Down-Under remarks. All it does for me is make me scowl, wanting to step on and crush the stupid little cartoon creep. I’m holding my breath because I haven’t seen that scaly green irritant in awhile. Dare I hope they’ve taken it off the air? Let us pray . . .
- “Does anybody know how I can get a small-business loan fast?” Every time I hear that line, I lunge for my remote-control mute function or slam my hands over my ears. I’ve nearly injured myself, tripping over furniture, rugs and other household obstacles to get to that mute button, grabbing a barf bag on the way. This bloated production is for a loan company called “Rapid Advance.” I would bet it’s been aired 20,000 times or more. What it is – or is supposed to be – is a tuneful Broadway-type showstopper with wannabe singers and wannabe hoofers spinning, prancing, kicking, strutting, whirling, twirling, shimmering, leaping, stomping and all the while flailing their limbs in a frenzy of desperate, overly-rehearsed, clumsy, uninspired dancing. They resemble a corral full of confused Clydesdales that suddenly morph into hectic humans, making horses’ asses of themselves. The proud creators of this horseplay hoopla spent big bucks on their dud. What a crime they have to unleash it, infinite times, upon the TV public. The insipid lilting jingle song alone is enough to gag a person to vomitus extremis.
- “As the host of a popular home-improvement show . . .” That ad line, too, has me sprinting for the mute. This one is for “Home Improvement.” It didn’t bother me about a year ago when I first saw it. Since then, it’s been on more times even than the “Rapid Advance” one mentioned above. During the Morning Joe news show, it’s on at least six times. It is the never-ending ad, a true nightmare suitable for use during torture sessions. We (well, some of us) will surely see eternal re-runs of it in Hell. It starts with a flaming red-haired woman wearing a blue plaid shirt and a tool belt. She jerks and ambles toward the camera like a sand crab, her hands flip-flopping as she extols the glory of homeimprovement.com. Then we are “treated” to testimonials from a few “ordinary” homely people dressed in drab everyday clothes, a visual ruse to assure the rest of us slobs just how wonderful the service is. The only “good” thing about this sickeningly tiresome ad is it lasts only about 20 seconds. But multiply those 20 seconds by 30,000 airings. Lotta time. I was so sick to death of seeing it, I wrote the company a letter; I emailed; I called and begged them to take it off the air and put on a different ad. It’s still on, more than ever.
Kerry Nelson of Minneapolis, a loyal reader who is fed up with TV ads, emailed me last week and suggested I write a column about the commercials I find most obnoxious. Thus, this column. Kerry wants to know what ads other readers hate. Please share your seething ad dislikes with me. Maybe, together, we can make a difference and stop the witless barrage.