June 28, 2004

That "girthy" frank.

I zap commercials, so how are you going to get me to watch a commercial? You can make it something that looks cool when fastforwarding, or you can start a controversy that will actually make me go to a website and download and watch the commercial. That Bush website commercial that includes the MoveOn.org ad is a good example of something that lured me to download (my comments here), and today, there's that Ball Park Franks "Girthy" commercial that's getting written up in Slate and talked about on Metafilter. Congratulations to Ball Park's ad agency for doing something simple and straightforward that got me to watch their commercial and made me laugh. People, it's just funny. "Girthy" is a brilliant comic word choice and the actor is hilarious.

Slate's reviewer, who gives the commercial an "F," is absurdly upset about it. He wonders how such a thing could have happened:
In the end, we're left with two possibilities. The first is that Ball Park, and their ad agency, were unaware of the connotation. I can imagine how this might happen. Were I at the planning meeting where this ad was first pitched, as, like, a junior executive or something, I would not want to be the guy who brought up penises. So, maybe no one brought it up.

The other possibility is that Ball Park knows exactly what it's doing. That somehow consumer research has proven that folks like the hot dog/penis connection. It must have been a doozy of a focus group.

First, I object to the "dog penis" juxtaposition that Slate just made, but Ball Park Franks are always called "franks," so there's no untoward bestiality reference. And it's just silly to think the ad people might not have known what they were doing. We all saw the episode of "The Apprentice" where the women's team won by making their ad campaign as phallic as humanly possible. I'm sure they tested the ad on the sort of people who are likely to eat frankfurters and those people laughed heartily.

TV commercials have shown actors responding sexually to food for as long as I can remember. The actors have been groaning and saying "mmm-mmm ... good" and the like forever. Is there to be some special prohibition simply because the food is phallic in shape? Is there a problem because the food appears to be male and the actor is also male? Is that why Chiquita had to make its animated banana a woman? I think the best way to look at the "girthy" ad is as a spoof of all the many ads that take the sexuality of food seriously.

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