Tonight I watched the Team Coco Presents The Conan Writers Live on TBS. – yes, this was live Monday night; if you hadn’t noticed I’m a few days behind in the television-viewing universe. I think this special was a genius move by TBS, who is bringing Conan O’Brien’s show to their station in November. As I understand it, Conan is not allowed to make a TV appearance until his new show starts. By having the writers do the show it not only allowed for O’Brien to promote his new show, but gave his viewership a sneak peek under the hood of how the whole thing works. The timing is well positioned to help keep him relevant to his television fan base during his hiatus from onscreen, it comes after his The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour, and promotes the teamcoco.com website.
As for the show itself, Coco’s mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of his onstage persona were evident in the stand-up of his senior writers. It makes one wonder if Conan took on some of the writer’s personalities over the years, or if the writers acquired some of Conan’s quarks – maybe these oddities were born through the camaraderie of the writing room, who knows. It was a little weird, but kind of nice to see a part of the old show on TV, if only for a fleeting minute here and there. Most of the show was a run of the mill stand-up act – a masturbation story, a few porn references, some vaudeville style sketches sprinkled in, etc.
Though Conan’s style made a few appearances through that hour it was no substitute for his comedic delivery and onstage energy. I look forward to his return, which as of right now is 131 days: 23 hours: 37 min: 20 seconds away.
I don’t really enjoy most reality tv/contest driven cross over shows, but HGTVs Design Star is one of the few, which keeps me engaged. I think it’s partially because my real-world design driven job is like being on that show everyday with limited budgets and even more limited time. This new season, however, has taken a little getting used to.
First of all, where is Clive?! The past several seasons we have watched a host lead us through the designs and tell contests “your show has been canceled.” In our house we have affectionately called the act of redubing an onscreen conversation “Cliving” – especially to interject the sponsor’s name. This season it seems as though Vern has taken over this role (Cliving included) – I do have to admit it does give a fresh, more organic flow to series, Vern always has the best one liners.
While we’re talking about judges, this year’s line-up makes more sense than previous seasons. I was always confused about why Cynthia Rowley, predominately a fashion designer, and Martha McCully, executive editor of InStyle Magazine, were there – I get that it falls under their respective umbrellas, but it was a bit of a stretch. Candice and Genevieve make perfect sense. Candice is one of the most talented (and few) Interior Designers on the network, and Genevieve is a talented decorator.
So after 3 episodes here’s my rundown: Nina and Courtland will be in the final 3 unless they really screw up; the third slot is still up for grabs. Courtland has a good design sense and almost seems like he’s the big brother of the show. Nina is over-confident and too cocky. She thinks she is more talented than she is, but her confidence gets her farther than most and if she learns that design is as much about restraint and knowing your weaknesses (sorry you’re NO David Bromstad, leave the painting to someone else) then she can harness her strengths even better.
The overall talent base isn’t as strong as some past seasons, but it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. There are some talented designers on the show, and some who seem to have been carried too much by the teams they’ve worked with in the past. It will be fun to see what is revealed in this season.
I think this new spot from American Express is both clever and fun – I mean, who doesn’t like anthropomorphosised products? I know when I look around I see faces on many different products, and it looks like I’m not the only one. American Express took this idea and added a story around it. I like the frowning shower curtain and how the hanger is swinging in the “…they can be stolen” shot, as if the item was just taken. Toward the end of the commercial there are two shots are nearly perfect – one is a smiling chair (0:33), the other is filmed on a boat (0:45). Not all the images are clearly faces, at about 48 seconds in to the commercial there is an image of a baggage claim, which is a little too obscure, it took a few viewings to determine where the face was hiding. The music, an excerpt from Suite for Cello No.1 in G Major by Johann Sebastian Bach, was perfect as it can conveys both a somber tone and happy tone equally.
This ad has stirred a little controversy since it came out last month. Many praise it for the simplicity of the imagery, beautiful tonalities of the music (excerpt from Suite for Cello No.1 in G Major by Johann Sebastian Bach?), and simple message, but some are crying foul. The photographic duo of brothers Francois and Jean Robert have produced 3 books – Face to Face (1996), Faces (2000), and Find a Face (2004) – which show everyday objects appearing as faces. There are individuals who are claiming that this ad is a blatant plagiarism of the Robert’s photographic genius; the brothers are not a part of these accusations at this time. Below are images from both the commercial and the works of the Robert brothers – remarkably similar I must admit.
Whether you look at this spot as a beautifully simple expression of everyday objects set to a story, or as an offensive piece of derivative commercialization, you have to admit that the use of such pedestrian objects in a creative way is well done. I enjoyed the commercial; it has entertained me, and even if it is not an intentional piracy of Francois and Jean Robert’s work it has at least introduced me to it, and for that I am grateful.
Amidst the debate of national healthcare reform, one television commercial really stands out. Regardless of your opinions on this controversial topic, this commercial has the perfect metaphor for AARP’s message; an ambulance running lights and sirens, getting cut-off at every turn – brilliant. I didn’t even listen to the words the first few times I saw the commercial, I watched the imagery and instantly got it. Maybe I connect with the spot because of my brief stint as a state certified Emergency Medical Technician and 8 years as a part-time health and safety educator, or maybe the symbolism is just that strong. Either way I though it was well done.
In the past few days this commercial has stirred more controversy than most advertisements ever will, here’s some comments:
From AARP.org on August 17th & 18th:
“My first impression was laughter. I thought all of those cars were rich ambulance-chasing trial lawyers fighting to get a new client.”
“The AARP commercial looks pretty good – it takes on the myths and facts. Take a look.
I love the comments about the use of American cars in the commercial (some people reallllllly have too much time on their hands to look for conspiracy theories. They’re probably disappointed that black helicopters aren’t featured as well.)”
“WE WERE MASSIVELY OFFENDED by the commercial we saw tonight showing an ambulance being cut off by expensive cars at every turn. SHAME ON AARP for thinking that we are so gullible as to be influenced by such obvious tripe.”
I didn’t know the Dodge Caliber, the car most visible throughout the commercial, was considered an “expensive car”, but okay.
From YouTube on August 17th:
“This video is awsome it really shows how good the government has got at sponsoring propaganda!! 2 thumbs up!!”
“I hope AARP paid enough to make this commercial because I definitely think less of them after having seen it.”
Pretty strong opinions for a commercial sponsored by a non-governmental organization (and interest group). Whatever your feelings about the healthcare reform bill are, you have to admit that this is a strong commercial with unmistakable symbolism – people getting in the way of healthcare.
I doubt that when Leo Goodwin founded Government Employees Insurance Company, GEICO, in 1936 the thought crossed his mind that the company would produce such a hailstorm of odd characters as to make the Brothers Grimm jealous. No doubt it’s great to have an effective and well developed ad campaign for your company. Advertisements have life spans and like anything else once they have surpassed their usefulness it’s time to let them go. With this in mind, I ask myself “why is it possible that during a one our television show I can see three completely different and distinct advertisements for one company?” Why is GEICO going through such a spastic identity crisis?
To begin the journey through GEICO’s multiple personalities we have to go back to the last millennium to the Screen Actor’s Guild strikes of 1999. The Martin Agency came up with the idea of using an anthropomorphic Gecko in attempts to work around the strike. Originally voiced by Kelsey Grammer, the GEICO Gecko now has an English accent. After 10 years we’re getting a little tired of him, but Day Geckos can live for up to 15 year so I guess they’ll keep animating him at for least 5 more.
Since 2004 GEICO has been running the Caveman commercials. These commercials originally aired with the tagline “so easy, a caveman could do it.” The caveman ads proved to be so successful that ABC decided to make a sitcom based on the idea – it was the shortest-lived ABC sitcom of 2007, quietly sinking away into obscurity. Over the years the company has dedicated several websites in the caveman’s honor, all of them have been shut down. Even in their death throws the caveman GEICO commercials live on. The ad has been around so long that the tagline doesn’t even need to be present anymore – in the most recent ad we witness the caveman just running down a street to the song “Let me be myself” by 3 Doors Down. What does it mean? I still don’t know.
For a little while GEICO aired commercials featuring “real GEICO customers” telling their stories while celebrities embellished and narrated the tale. These featured celebrities like Charo, Little Richard, and Don LaFontaine to name a few. I actually liked these; they came, made their mark, and then left with dignity.
In 2008 we were subjected to a stack of money with eyes named Kash. The “googly-eyed” character reminds me of the old Florida Orange Juice commercial with a talking sandwich, just not nearly as cool (if that was even cool). The character for me is creepy and, frankly annoying. I get it, it’s a stack of money, his name is Kash, he follows people around to remind them they can save money – I just can’t get behind a creepy sales persona who stalks people.
So in 10 years we have had nearly 20 years worth of advertising space dedicated to GEICO – I think I saw that in The Butterfly Effect. It’s time that GEICO saw a therapist and worked through it’s multiple personality disorders. Let the Gecko live out his golden years in retirement, the cavemen should be allowed to party all night hassle free, and, please, put a restraining order out on Kash!