VULTURE DROPPINGS OF THE WEEK: Holiday TV Spots
It’s time once again for the weekly roundup of my favorite pop culture atrocities, misfires and entertaining trainwrecks. This week’s theme: Holiday TV Spots.
The holidays are usually a time to forget about all cares and worries and shop til you drop. Granted this season, with unemployment rates still reaching the stratosphere, it may be difficult to spend with the reckless abandon of years past. That’s exactly why companies spare no expense to roll out ad campaigns that try to replace fears of maxed out credit cards with fears that you won’t get your hands on the latest Ipod Nano. Yes, TV commercials around Christmas are little more than shrill, garish, desperate attempts to invoke the warm and cozy spirit of a season that, unfortunately for the companies doing the selling, only comes once a year. The following ads serve as a good reminder to add Tivo to your Christmas list. You’ll be glad you did.
1. “THE MAGIC OF MACY’S” (2007)
So what do Donald Trump, Puff Daddy, Jessica Simpson, Usher, Russel Simmons, Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole, Emeril Lagasse, Tim Gunn and Martha Stewart have in common? No, it’s not the cast of the next Dancing with the Stars. Each of the above mentioned “celebri-peneurs” were all brought together for Macy’s ad campaign “The Magic of Macy’s” in 2007. It’s an accurate title, if by magic, they mean the sinister, black, soul-crushing kind.
The setting is a Macy’s department store near you and the ad opens with domestic diva Stewart telling the assembled group that they only have, “one night to decorate the whole store.” Cut to Jessica Simpson, who’s just finished cutting out a Christmas banner that promptly falls to pieces as she unfolds it. Get it? She’s not that smart. Hilarity ensues, as the eclectic group is seen hanging ornaments, posing for family pictures and talking to Christmas elves about the philosophy of designing clothes.
All this leads up to the moment when Jessica accidentally trips on an electrical cord, leading to a total blackout of the store. Martha responds saying, “Jessica…Darling” like she’s auditioning for the remake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. After apologizing, Jessica promptly plugs the cord back in. This could have been an actual outtake from filming, although from the way its edited, it looks like Martha and Jessica filmed their parts separately, probably to avoid any such incidents from actually taking place. They should have just had Martha go ballistic towards Jessica and maybe scream “I SAID MERLOT!” in a fit of, Cybill Sheperd from Martha Inc., uncontained rage.
2. “GO HO HO”, GAP (2009)
Since Glee became the breakout (or only) hit of new TV season season, it has started to invade other areas of pop culture with a vengeance with network execs and ad men alike scrambling to create spin offs and marketing tie-ins. NBC even disinvited the cast of the hit show from this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade because now it’s competition for the ratings challenged network’s new reality show The Sing-Off, which I’m sure will be as highly rated as a rerun of The Jay Leno Show.
Glee-mania seems to have finally reached its peak with Gap’s “Go Ho Ho” ad campaign. Something tells me that once the eager hopefuls featured in the ad, get cast in a real Broadway show they’ll want this commercial and the line, “Happy do whatever you wan-a-ka,” erased from their memory.
3. “JOY TO THE SMALL WORLD”, DISNEY (2009)
Imagine a nightmare vision where your children are shipped off for the holidays, never to be seen again. That seems to be what Disney is going for with their “Joy to the Small World Ad”, which plays like a creepy take off on Chris Van Allsburg‘s Polar Express and the “island of lost boys” sequence from Pinnochio.