~ Thursday, April 13, 2006 ~
Missing the Mark
They Might Be Giants, my most favorite Band-Next-Door, is doing music for Dunkin' Donuts commercials. There's something very does-not-compute about this. I mean, yeah, okay, I'm sure the pay is excellent and I'm happy for them that they landed the position, but the TMBG aesthetic and the Dunkin' Donuts image...they're like oil and a square peg. TMBG is for people who think they're clever, who are interested in information, who have a taste for the offbeat and who like to differentiate themselves from their surroundings. Dunkin' Donuts? In my head, Dunkin' Donuts is blue jeans and coca cola, only in pink and orange. There is nowhere I go on a regular basis that doesn't lead me to pass a Dunkin' Donuts. There is one on 5th and 9th, between my house and the train station; there's another near the 96th street station, near where I have some of my classes; there's another near Dance Shoe Store; and within a 2-block radius of my school, where I have the rest of my classes, there are three. Some people I know who can't stand Starbuck's find DD coffee addictively delicious. I don't drink coffee so I wouldn't know, but I can tell you not to bother with the baked goods. The bagels are rubbery, the donuts are unexciting (maybe they're better with coffee?), and the muffins smell funny. Kind of like fish. Who does that to a muffin? The first time I thought it was a fluke, but when the second one came out fishy also, I decided I didn't need to do any more investigation. My point is that there is nothing interesting about DD, not even if you try. When I read on the wiki that TMBG would be doing music for their new ad campaign, I wondered what kernel of interestingness they could possibly find and praise about this ubiquitous merchant of barely-passables.
Two of the commercials are on tmbw.net, and some more are viewable at the Hill/Holliday blog:
Doing Things (short version)
Doing Things (long version)
Visually, they're engaging ads, and I do think Flansburgh came up with some interesting stuff to sing about (or was that him following the company's orders? I'm curious to know whether the topic was given to him or whether he came up with a whole bunch of songlets, some of which they then chose to develop into spots), but I don't find the songs very catchy (and isn't that of paramount importance in an ad?) and some I find jarringly irrelevant to the product they're trying to sell. I can maybe accept the tree-climbing one, but the SUV-packing one just seems like it barely has any relation to the drink, and the pleather one is the worst. What is it about watching shorts-clad people shifting uncomfortably in their seats that's supposed to make me want iced coffee? I don't have pleather car seats. I'm not wearing shorts. And even if I did/were, I'd look for a towel to drape over the seat, not a cold beverage.
I'm glad TMBG has this opportunity for more exposure, or at least more revenue, through these ads, because then they can keep on making and giving away their excellent excellent podcasts, which I have been fully savoring to the last drop. I know ads don't have to be logical, but I really see no connection between the story presented in the ad and the necessity for refreshment from DD. I mean, I'm the most susceptible to TMBG music of anyone I know, and even I don't find myself wanting coffee and baked goods after seeing the ads, so I can't imagine this would be a very effective way to make other people buy their stuff. Maybe if Flansburgh wrote a song called "Our Muffins Don't Smell Like Fish Anymore".
~ prattled by Miriam at 12:34 a.m. [+]
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