So I'm sitting here watching tv as usual (VH-1 Classic -- Eddie and the Cruisers just ended, and now Mark Goodman is about to play the "Do They Know It's Christmas?" video, which as we all know was the better and cooler predecessor to the crap that was USA for Africa's "We Are the World") and this ad for something called the Package Shark came on, and I think I've realized that there is a genre of ad that I do actually love: the Low Budget Extremely Useful Gadget Ad.
The Package Shark, despite its questionable name, is something everyone really needs. It's a little cutting tool that will easily open all those dreadful plastic packages things are sold in -- the worst offenders are found in the children's toy department, but in the ad, they showed real razor packaging, a curling iron package, and packages for larger sized batteries. It's got a concealed blade that you'll push a button to release as you run it around the edge of the package (similar to a couple of tools invented by a client of mine to open DVD and cd packaging), and voila! The damn thing is open. I was so excited by this tool that I didn't even check to see how much it costs, but the great thing about ads like this one is that the items featured are always the same price -- $19.95! And they always throw in a couple of extras -- in this case, special wrapping paper scissors and an extra Package Shark. I would totally pay $19.95 for two Package Sharks and a pair of special wrapping paper scissors.
The great thing about these ads is how low key they always are. I mean, they always start with some poor over-acting by some actor pretending to be a frustrated housewife who's trying to stuff extra sweaters into a closet or a drawer (in the case of the vacuum pack bags whose name I can't recall right now), or the one who can't find any lids for her Tupperware in the kitchen (in the case of the plastic storage container organizer... again, the name escapes me), or my new favorite, the woman trying to open a plastic package containing a curling iron, who tries everything -- scissors, knife, and then a chainsaw! So the Package Shark ad is even poking fun at itself, in a way. And then following this funny little household drama, they show you the product, and demonstrate it like 40 times in 2 minutes so you can have little doubt that this thing will work. No one shouts. There are no flashy graphics. These ads actually kind of require a longer attention span than most ads. And at first, you're kind of irritated because they're interrupting your show or whatever, and they're so low budget that just looking at them is annoying. And then you're sucked in by wanting to make fun of the ad. But then you can't, because the product being advertised is something you really need in order to effectively operate your life.
Can you imagine how much time everyone could save fighting with plastic packaging on Christmas morning if everyone got a Package Shark in their stocking?
The really funny thing about the Package Shark is that it totally looks like the sort of product that would come in the offensive plastic packaging it's designed to break through.
I love how VH-1 Classic has a little logo that reads "Classic Current" so they can get away with playing new videos by older artists. Sly.
The guitar player for Steely Dan is probably the creepiest looking man in rock and roll. This is why I shouldn't ever watch VH-1 Classic.
But later they're going to show the documentary called The U.S. Versus John Lennon!