Bad commercials can be a source of chronic pain.
They might be innocuous at first but their constant repetition can make them akin to a drop of water in a chinese interrogation chamber.
And it seems the worse the campaign is, the longer the ad will run for.
Thankfully, nowadays, any idiot in marketing understands the value of renewing campaigns sparing us from endless, decade-long runs of commercial.
This, at first glance, innocuous offering from Canada popped up on the air in the late 70s. Hawking batchroom caulking, the ad kept springing up incessantly. It featured a nebbish character trying to make up is mind which brand of caulking to choose.
The ad was still running a full decade after it first aired.
The staging, the music…the first few notes on a piano was enough to inspire rage among viewers. Enough was enough! TV writers wrote editorials about it. People wrote letters to the editor about it. Still, the ad played on…
That is until 1988, when a comedy troupe from Quebec called “Rock et Belles Oreilles” (RBO for short) tackled the ad by restaging it beat by beat, with only the tiniest tweak in the script. (Don’t let the fact the ad is in french discourage you- the gag is visual).
The parody aired once, at the tail end of an episode. It never reran.
Needless to say, the real commercial was yanked in the days that followed. People were now referring to the parody at points of sale- not good.
Two weeks later a new ad, featuring a catchy new jingle, began airing -effectively ending that cocking….er, I mean caulking-obsessed nebbish’s reign of terror.
How did this mediocrity mashing miracle manage to get on the air?
An inside source told me the term “dildo” was “under the radar” of the network’s legal department. The proper french word is “godemichet”. “Dildo”, the proper japanese word for it, is considered an “anglicism” in Quebec and , therefore, not in everyone’s vocabulary. The skit was approved, shot, edited and aired. By the time the lawyers had realized their mistake, it was too late. As far as I know, there were no complaints from viewers – just from lawyers from the caulking company.