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Magic Biscuit Feet part 1

November 26, 2008 - Wes Burns
Advertising pre-2000: Show the product/service you are selling, explain/show why the product is going to make the consumer's life better, inject some memorable and identifiable imagery and repeat the name of the product/service ad nauseam.

Advertising post-2000: Show an image unrelated to the product/service. Have image make an ironic statement, do not mention product/service. Increase the absurdity of the image by having the image address the audience. Confound the audience with a total lack of relevance to the product/service, then show the corporate logo.

Commercials once served a purpose. They were there to support our beloved TV programs so that we did not have to pay to watch the stars of prime time. Then we all decided to get cable. Since we were paying for the new channels the commercials seemed a bit tired and needed to become more dramatic to catch our attention.

There has been a mutation in the evolution of the commercial. There was a time when the most famous commercials starred big name celebrities or had a unique narrative structure (remember those coffee commercials in the 80s that had a "will they or wont they" story about to coffee loving patrons?) or at least a jingle.

Nowadays we are greeted with commercials that go to extraordinary lengths to deter my interest in the product. Those creepy Burger King commercials where the eponymous king seems to threaten the lives of normal citizens, only to make amends via a BK Smokehouse Cheddar Griller do not make me want to eat at Burger King. They make me want to avoid Burger King and all monarchs in general.

The Skittles people and their never ending quest to get America to stop eating Skittles? The commercial where a normal looking man just starts dumping shampoo on his head as if reveling in the hedonistic pleasures granted to him in exchange for a positive response on a message board? And now this nation's lead manufacturer of bleached, caustic and delicious baked-goods-tubes is now the latest victim.

Here's the scenario: Its very late at night and I am once again falling asleep to the dulcet tones of Billy Mays screaming about cleaning products/financial advice and Joe Francis' repeated attempts to get me to believe that this time the girls have gone REALLY wild. All in all just another Monday night.

I woke up to a sharp noise. I'm not sure what it was exactly but I roused from my slumber to investigate. My first suspect: the TV. Attempting to focus after a brief 2 hour, 4am power nap is challenging but after scant few seconds I was able to see clearly. This is what I saw.

A child's feet, wearing sneakers and seen only from below the knee, clicks their heels together. Then a tray of Grands(tm) Biscuits(tm?) quickly rises in the oven. Then another person sits down at a table full of people for Thanksgiving.

Magic Biscuit Feet.

What kind of world is it when the Pillsbury Doughboy is the normalizing factor in your ad? That tubby little white dude was the only thing I recognized in what has to be the worst re-imagining of the Wizard of Oz I've ever seen. Magic biscuit feet?

The horror only continued as my sleep addled brain tried vainly to comprehend the images. In my haze I decided to look up the commercial. First stop was youtube; this proved unsuccessful after I found a rudimentary search for "pillsbury commercial" lead to a series of user created videos featuring the doughboy soiling himself in a manner most foul.

Next was Google video; of course these were just the same videos I saw on youtube only disorganized. I knew then that I must delve into the belly of the beast and visit the Pillsbury website itself.

Words fail me.

There are recipes. Fine, that's to be expected. There are coupons. Good, who wants to pay full price for Pillsbury. There was a contest. That makes sense and there is a pretty long tradition of baking contests. Then the cart came off the rails.

They have the commercial in question posted. The long version. I can only assume that this is the director's cut of the commercial I saw and includes all of the deleted scenes of slow motion sunrises and squadron combat in Vietnam. Then the site proceeds to tell me that if I recommend the commercial to someone else they will make a donation in my name, or something to this effect. I had stopped reading as I was distracted by the discussion tab.

Part 2 continues this week with my adventures in the jungle primeval that is the Pillsbury Message Board.


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