Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Naked Chicken

I saw this commercial for Naked Chicken. Go watch it and come back for discussion.

Okay. Naked chicken. I saw this ad and it didn't really register. My mind processed it and filed it the way it does for most commercials. It was stupid but it didn't seem too offensive. But the more time passed, the more I kept coming back to this ad in my mind. Naked chicken.... The more I thought about it the angrier I got. Why was I getting so steamed about this commercial? Finally I could no longer contain my rage and just shouted angry insults at the Naked Chicken, cursing the chicken, cursing Buffalo Wild Wings, damning everyone who had ever eaten a naked chicken and all their family members too.

I still can't get a full grip on why this commercial angers me so much, but I'll try to talk it out.

First of all, we have a guy holding a blurry piece of chicken, and he asks the waitress why it is blurry. Now, I have to point out, just for my own sanity, that things in real life can't be blurry and pixellated. So this is the first point where the commercial is asking for my suspension of disbelief. No problem. You got it. People talk to cartoon characters in commercials, they wink at a Mr. Clean who's come alive on the bottle, same with the Brawny Guy, okay fine.

But now, the guy asks why his chicken is blurry. This is a red flag. I, the viewer, have suspended *my* disbelief. "Chicken can be blurry." I've told myself. I've accepted that. It's weird and uncomfortable, but I've made peace with it. But now the guy in the ad doesn't quite understand it either. My suspended disbelief is collapsing like a house of cards if the guy in the ad is questioning blurry chicken. He's supposed to be on board with it. Now I'm back to square one: why does the chicken have some sort of computer effect on it that people can see?

The waitress comes over, all smiles, and helpfully clears up the confusion. But this is another request for suspension of disbelief. If I'm meant to question the nature of blurry chicken, as the guy in the ad did, shouldn't I be considerably more freaked out than he is? Wouldn't I be shook to my very core that the chicken was blurry? Wouldn't I be freaking out? That his blurry-chicken-crisis is so easily resolved doesn't ring true. This is a much more difficult request for suspension of disbelief. Buffalo Wild Wings is asking me to accept that chicken can be pixellated, but not immediately - only after some casual questioning. This challenges the very limits of my suspension of disbelief abilities. It's as if you saw a Mr. Clean commercial where Mr. Clean comes out of the bottle and congratulates mom on a clean kitchen, and you find it amusing, but then mom freaks out that Mr. Clean has come to life, and now you're confused and frightened, but then Mr. Clean says "Don't worry, I do this every Wednesday" and mom calms down immediately. Huh?

So as I struggle with this, the commercial doesn't get any easier to understand. The waitress explains that the chicken is censored because its naked. Now, further SoD is required because guess what? That doesn't make any sense. Even if I could pixellate things in real life and cause only mild, temporary confusion in others, chicken is naked to start with and doesn't need to be blurred. Shouldn't the guy in the ad say "Isn't 'naked', in this sense, only referring to the absence of breading? And since when have we been modest about chicken nudity?"

But, well, this is all a joke. Ha ha. Naked Chicken. Get it? Not really, no. It's not funny. No. Just not funny. Nobody in the ad is behaving like an actual human being. And note the fleeting look of distaste of the waitress's face as the ad ends. Is she annoyed because the whole "blurry chicken question" is something she has to explain 20 times a day and she's sick of it? Or because the one guy is waving his blurry chicken around like an idiot? An open question, I guess. There's so much groundwork that has to be laid for this lame punchline that the whole thing is just a confusing waste of time.

Again, I ask: remember when commercials were just "The Lincoln Towncar. Magnificently designed and appointed. Luxury you can afford." and that was it? There was no triple-layered irony and forced humor?

1 comment:

Jonnie "Goodboy" Tyler said...

I think a good test for a bad ad, is what you would do if you saw someone actually acting it out in front of you.

If you saw two dorky guys acting out the "Naked Chicken" ad - pretending to be amazed by the pixilation over the naughty bits of the chicken - you'd shrug it off. Not too funny, but at least they're trying.

I opened a magazine yesterday, and a full-oage ad blared, "If your heartburn medication is working, how come you still have heartburn?"

Now this fails the test spectacularly. Why would someone (1) Assume you have heartburn. (2) Assume you're mis-medicating yourself for heartburn and (3) boldly lie to yourself and others about how well you're treating your condition?

Anyone who'd make these assumptions about a total stranger would be considered mentally ill.

Also, since this was one of only a few major heartburn medicines, the chances are pretty good that (if you have heartburn) you're already using it.

So this hypothetical stranger is attacking your disasterous choice of heartburn medication, knowing full well you probably don't even have the problem, but if you do, there's probably a 30% chance that the medicine you take is his.

I feel like getting heartburn and taking a different medication just to teach these Madison Avenue types who's boss.