Expect the Unexpected

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TV ads go for the creepy


Toaster Strudel Boy has a strange, "You WILL eat that strudel," look in his eyes.

Toaster Strudel Boy has a strange, “You WILL eat that strudel,” look in his eyes.

Creepy sells. At least that seems to be one of the main trends in TV ad campaigns. Purveyors of everything from breakfast pastries to deodorant are doing the creepy dance in an effort to get consumers to part with their money.

Mr. Six of Six Flags fame. The Godfather of Creepiness.

Mr. Six of Six Flags fame. The Godfather of Creepiness.

In advertising you want your product to stand out and introducing a creepy factor certainly does that. But does it work?

Many people find Hans, Pillsbury’s Toaster Strudel Boy creepy to the nth degree. But he has certainly raised awareness of Pillsbury’s prefab faux strudel, which not surprisingly contains creepy ingredients: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Mono and Diglycerides, Preservatives (potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, TBHQ, citric acid), Polysorbate 60, Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Sorbitan Monostearate, Colored with (red 40, artificial color, blue 1). Mmm, them’s eats.

Another recurring creepy character is Trivago Guy. Looking like he woke up in a gutter after a three-day binge and forgot where he put his belt, Trivago Guy (Tim Williams) wants us to know that Trivago.com can help travelers get good deals on hotel rooms. Now if only he would sleep inside the room on his next trip.

You can practically smell stale tobacco wafting from Trivago Guy's clothes.

You can practically smell stale tobacco wafting from Trivago Guy’s clothes.

Trivago’s competitor Kayak.com does creepy in a fun way with its “sneaky professor” commercial as seen in the video below.

As a “4* star hotel at 2* prices gal,” I can attest that Kayak is superior to Trivago as a hotel-vetting tool.

(Travel Tip: Check out hotels and prices on kayak.com. That gives you a basepoint. Compare these to prices on hotwire.com and the Priceline Express section of priceline.com. Then go to the internet’s Rosetta Stone of decoding opaque travel deals — BetterBidding.com, post a question about your trip on the appropriate board and the folks there will help you figure out the names of the hotels you’re looking at on hotwire/priceline. You’ll get a great deal. You’re welcome.)

As Jerry Seinfeld might say, “What’s the deal with these marionettes?

Creepy on a number of levels, DirectTV makes the point that their product doesn’t have wires, via a mixed marriage (including prejudice) between a human male and a hapless marionette, and their even more hapless marionette son.

Will DirectTV's creepy marionette family convince viewers to switch from cable?

Will DirectTV’s creepy marionette family convince viewers to switch from cable?

Crazy generous Vonage man, or just crazy creepy? And what the heck is Vonage? Do we know? Do we care?

Crazy generous Vonage man, or just crazy creepy? And what the heck is Vonage? Do we know? Do we care?

Old Spice has a series of  “Real Human Man” commercials which feature a creepy accident-prone robot who strangely finds favor with women. Not unlike actor Matthew Broderick.

Separated at birth? Old Spice's Real Human Man and Matthew Broderick.

Separated at birth? Old Spice’s Real Human Man and Matthew Broderick.

But the creepiest Old Spice commercial has to be the one featuring moms stalking their adult sons. As a mom myself, I’d complain about it if I just couldn’t stop laughing. Kudos to you Old Spice:

For the record, I love the smell of Old Spice and have been buying it for the men in my life since I was a kid and will continue to do so. If I’m Old Spice’s targeted demo, bullseye.

I like the creepy Mayhem (Dean Winters) from the hard sell Allstate insurance commercials. Behind his deliberately creepy facade there’s a spark of “C’mon, I’m just kidding.” I think. But will I change my insurance to Allstate? No.

I’ve never seen this Mayhem commercial air on TV, but I gotta hand it to Allstate, this is one of my actual nightmares — being forced to stay in a no-star motel:

Then there’s creepshow Vinny of ShamWow and Slap Chop infomercial fame. As lowbrow creepy as you can get. Not buying anything Vinny peddles, ever.

Vinny the pitchman's Jack Nicholson-Joker smile and menacing eye makes any product he pushes that much more creepy.

Vinny the pitchman’s Jack Nicholson-Joker smile and menacing eye makes any product he pushes that much more creepy.

Real life creepiness followed suit when Vince Offer, aka Offer Shlomi, aka Vince Shlomi, or whatever he's calling himself these days, was arrested in 2009 for fighting with a prostitute whom he claimed bit his tongue too hard.

Real life creepiness followed suit when Vince Offer, aka Offer Shlomi, aka Vince Shlomi, or whatever he’s calling himself these days, was arrested in 2009 for fighting with a prostitute whom he claimed bit his tongue too hard.

And finally, a tribute to creepy royalty. Burger King dethroned the Creepy King from its ads in 2011. But his grotesque image will sadly reign in our minds forever. Long live the next Creepy King.

The Creepy King, a royal nightmare.

The Creepy King, a royal nightmare.

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One thought on “TV ads go for the creepy

  1. What is that “Toaster Strudel” boy REALLY looking at?
    Is there a Priest in the room?

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