Holiday Inn – You Trippin’ !

Holiday Inn is currently running an ad.  It’s innocuous enough, and pretty much what you’d expect of a commercial from them.  One line of the narration caught my ear though, and it’s making me look at advertising media with even more scrutiny then usual.

Did you catch it?  At about 17 seconds in the narrator says “..we ended up bringing the world together”

I’m okay with the promise of clean comfortable rooms and a pool or fitness center.  I’ll accept an ad agency making a typically sad breakfast buffet look like an elimination challenge on Top Chef Masters.

But bringing the world together?  Seriously?

The most powerful, enigmatic people of modern history would have a tough time saying that they brought the world together.

Holiday Inn has a history of building hotels.  They’ve long employed people to change sheets and hand out keys.  For a fee, they supplied travellers with a place to stay when they were tired and still 150 miles outside of Cleveland.  To take those accomplishments and say they brought the world together has to fall on the exaggeration/fabrication end of the spectrum.

The commercial itself doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that I probably saw that it a dozen times before noticing that outrageous boast.  I’m a fairly discriminating viewer of mediocre TV.  Most people don’t watch it with my near-anal preoccupation to detail.  That’s what scares me.

Holiday Inn is far from the only company making outlandish, yet impossible to disprove claims in their ads.

Subaru tells viewers that love is what makes a Subaru a Subaru.  Love – the single most mercurial and precious of all human conditions; that which has inspired the greatest works of art and literature over the history of mankind.  People have killed themselves and one another over love.  Can anyone truly believe that love actually has anything to do with making a Subaru a Subaru?

I don’t have a Subaru.  I do like my car very much, and the day it stops working well, I’ll hate it.  I’m not without faults, but tossing my love around all willy nilly is not one of them.  I reserve my that sweet gift for other human beings and McKenzie Brewing’s delicious Twisted Meniscus India Pale Ale.

People are being fed wildly presumptuous lies and they don’t even realize it.  They pass the Holiday Inn on Route 206 and a warm feeling passes through them, because on a subconscious level, they believe they’re in the presence of a Nobel prize worthy entity.  They’re not.  They’re driving past a hotel.  If by chance they’re in a Subaru the warm feeling they’re mistaking for love is likely just the heated driver’s seat.

Tyler/Brittany/Grayson Scored The Winning Goal/Basket/Run!!

As an avid TV watcher and student of popular culture, I’ve noticed a few things about advertising over the years.  It really doesn’t matter what the product is, advertisers have any number of wily ways to coddle and woo the customer.

One proven method involves subliminally suggesting that if you buy a given product, you will magically inherit the traits of the people in the commercial.  Using the right shampoo will make your hair look luxurious and full of body, and if you read the subliminal messages, it will also take care of that crooked nose, unsightly warts and as an added bonus, you’ll shed those 35 extra pounds you’ve been carting around since the late 90’s.  For obvious legal reasons, no shampoo manufacturer is going to actually promise you much of anything beyond clean hair.  Still, the models in their ads never have crooked noses, warts or thunder thighs.  A coincidence? I think not.

For many advertisers, there is an implied promise which is even more alluring than that of physical beauty, and that is making your child into a sports superstar.  Take for example, the notion that if you buy a certain brand of minivan, your child will score the winning goal in the soccer game, and will be carried off the field on the shoulders of his or her comrades, to the waiting luxurious comfort of your shiny, stain-free mini-van.  It might be the winning run of the baseball game or the winning shot of the basketball game instead of soccer, but make no mistake about it, if you plunk down 30 large for this incredible mini-van, your son or daughter will win the game (As a point of clarification, scoring the winning touchdown in football games is usually reserved for laundry detergent ads).

Listen Brittany! We didn't buy that new mini-van so you could sit on the damn bench! Now smear a little dirt on your cheek and go win the game, and for God's sake, try to look enthused about it! (Image from pranamama.com)

Parents have no bounds when it comes to doing anything and everything they can to ensure the success and popularity of their children.  Trust me on this one, I have kids.  OK, you got me, I had kids.  They’re all young adults now, but I have my memories.  If some slick huckster on Madison Avenue implanted the germ of an idea in my head that buying the right mini-van would improve one of my kids chances of scoring a winning goal, you know damn well I would have bought it.  Crash rating?  We don’t need no stinking crash rating!

Now that my kids are older, I can look back with some degree of objectivity on all of this subliminal advertising insanity.  While I wrote that any number of sports could suffice, I’ll stick with soccer for this hypothetical discussion.

On any given weekend day, there are easily a hundred thousand little league soccer games being played all across America.  A standard soccer game will have 11 players on each team.  Only one team can win – there are no ties in mini-van commercials, so we’ll eliminate the 11 players on the losing team.  One of the players on the winning team is the goalie, and unless they make an incredible kick, the goalie is highly unlikely to score the winning goal.  The goalie, especially in little league soccer, would be much more likely to score the winning goal for the other team, however this would probably not result in his or her being carried off the field a hero.

Another factor is that, despite the best efforts of league organizers at spreading the talent evenly among the teams, there are often powerhouses and cellar dwellers in many soccer leagues.  The disparity of talent will result in lop-sided wins or losses.  It’s a simple fact that no one will carry you off the field for scoring the winning goal if it happens 3 minutes into the game in an eventual 10-2 blow out.  Therefore we can safely eliminate half the games being played because they’re blow outs.

Yet another issue is the incidence of overly involved parents.  In a few of these games, despite the outcome, some Dad will go berserk and charge onto the field to assault the referee.  This will result in the game being called on account of boorish behavior, and no one will be carried off the field with the possible exceptions of  Dad being carried off in hand-cuffs and/or the referee on a stretcher.  This may present an opportunity for police car or ambulance advertisers, but admittedly these are niche markets at best.

Of the remaining eligible kids who could possibly score the winning goal, still more must be ruled out.  In commercials, it will be the smallest, scrappiest, cutest little goomer.  He or she will have a small scuff of dirt on their little determined cheek, and they’ll make a face of utter surprise and delight after scoring.  Therefore, none of the bigger kids on the team can score the goal, because they would appear to be a bully or a ringer.  None of the clean faced kids can score it, that just wouldn’t look right.  Finally, none of the really incredibly talented kids can score it because they would never be able to fake the look of surprise and delight, because as an elite 3rd grader, they knew that shot was going in.

I know I’ve lost some of you by now, so allow me to lose the rest of you by introducing a summary in mathematical terms:

100,000 soccer games X 2 Teams of 11 players                                  =  2,200,000

2,200,000 players minus 1,100,000 losing players                                 = 1,100,000

1,100,000 players minus 100,000 goalies                                              = 1,000,000

1,000,000 players minus 500,000 players in blow outs                           = 500,000

500,000 players minus 50,000 players in games called due to Dads       = 450,000

450,000 players minus 400,000 players who are

too big, too talented, and/or too clean                                                        = 50,000

50,000 players minus 40,000 players who’s parents

missed the game due to work or other obligations                                     = 10,000

10,000 players minus 6000 players who were distracted by

planes overhead                                                                                           = 4000

4000 players minus 2000 players who fell down or burst into tears

for no apparent reason                                                                                 = 2000

2000 players minus 925 players who were called offside

by that idiot ref                                                                                              = 1075

1075 players minus 274 who stopped to tie their cleats                                   = 801

801 players minus 211 who missed the game due to dance recitals               = 590

590 players minus 562 who are in sportsmanship leagues which forbid

gloating or being carried off the field by teamates                                            = 28

So there you have it.  By my highly scientific calculations, 28 players out of 2.2 million will score the winning heroic goal as portrayed in mini-van commercials.  Not exactly Mega-Millions long shots, but far from a slam dunk.

Maybe those crash ratings are worth a second look after all.