A lot of people have complained to me recently about their day jobs as desk slaves. I feel you, as the kids say. I put in my time as an administrative assistant at everything from fish markets to law firms, from photographers’ studios to software start-up companies. I’m glad to have freed myself from the nine-to-five, and that when I set my alarm in the morning I can either choose to get out of my pajamas, or wear a beret all day, or work at my computer in nothing more than my birthday suit.
I kid. I would never actually wear a beret.
There are plenty of reasons why going freelance, while perhaps not the most financially stable, was the right thing to do. For one, I was fired from my last job (Exhibit A) so it wasn’t exactly a choice. Also, if you contacted anyone who worked in the same office with me back in New York they could vouch for the fact that I broke the massive, office-wide, “indestructible” copy machine on average once a week. And we’re not talking about simple paper jams. These were the remove-the-metal-heart, holy-shit-that’s-hot-don’t-touch-it, fuck-there-goes-another-skirt episodes of industrial-level obliteration. I should stay away from any machines meant to improve business practices. Excluding Macs.
I also do not play well with others outside of an office setting. That is to say that my cover letter definitely includes the term “a team player,” but I am not the girl who goes out to lunch with coworkers referred to as “the girls,” and I am not the employee who attends company happy hours. I’ve more than once been put in the awkward position of having to explain that I was dating a woman or that I only wanted a Diet Coke because I’m an alcoholic. Buzz kill. Yep, I’m that girl.
But freelancing is more than wearing pajamas till noon and writing in the park on your laptop when the sun‘s out. Other than the occupational hazard of starving and needing to sell family heirlooms to make rent, work never ends — even if there are no clients. When you love what you do you’ll always be doing it, and if what you do includes advertising in any way, shape, or form, then watching the commercials during the NBA Finals is enough to make you want to hog-tie certain executives and tickle them with a chainsaw.
We learned that commercials featuring Skype-savvy, Blackberry-wielding babies are funny if they call out what we’re thinking (regarding a clown in the background the baby says, “I underestimated the creepiness factor”) but are completely not funny when they actually do things that adults do (regarding a phone call from a female of unspecified age the baby says, “Girl, let me hit you back later?”) There’s a fine line between trying and trying too hard. Much like me and the infamous snowboarders, bro.
Also, I believe it was Verizon who decided to have an independent hand, a la Thing from The Addams Family, futz with its sleeping owner’s Glyde and send a text message. Allow me to tell this marketing team that no one, and I do mean no one, uses “what’s crackin’?” anymore. I get the knuckle reference. Cute. But it really just made you seem like you were trying to shred the gnar. Know what that means? Me neither. Ask a snowboarder.
Each commercial break left us groaning. By the end of it I wanted to drown Will Smith in a kiddie pool filled with Coors Light, then drive from the body in a VW.
“Do not show me a banana smoothie after alluding to ball-sweat,” my business partner mumbled at a Jack In The Box ad that seemed to indicate that their drive-through allows you to avoid the ever-present problem of overweight men in perspiration-drenched workout clothes stretching in front of you if you frequent sit-down smoothie selling spots.
Simon has often been called “too cerebral,” which we’ve decided is a fancy way of saying “too smart for you.” I’ve been called a whole slew of expletives so I wouldn’t complain if the derogatory term of the day was somehow or another connected to a part of the body that didn’t include an orifice. His writing has that punch that has always reminded me of the best campaigns, ones that don’t assume their audience is stupid, sexist, or worse, boring. Which is why, months upon months ago, when I was still a dog on the corporate leash, I told him to go to a corner mart and read the labels on every bottle of Vitamin Water. Their copy reminded me of his Portland 88 project. You can see for yourself.
So when, between the complete decimation of Lakers defense, we witnessed Glaceau’s latest ad hatchling “vitamin water. try it!” we were perplexed.
Okay, Simon was perplexed and reserved. I was just plain old jealous. This blog’s daily operations are based on a very similar campaign. Jerk Ethic: Ainsley Drew’s writing. Try it! Or, you know, let her starve and move in with her mom. No, it’s cool. I’m sure karma isn’t real.
Fortunately I actually like Vitamin Water so I didn’t go the route of The Heathers’ variety of jealous. After all, my business partner exists on any pink variety of Vitamin Water and parmesan flavored Goldfish crackers.
I must add the disclaimer that we’ve been without television for so long our little brains are about to explode into puffs of smoke from the past two weeks. I moved from an apartment without locks into an apartment with a flat-screen HD TV. Simon practically licks the screen every time a commercial comes on with bacon and, believe me, there are a lot of commercials with bacon. This “try it!” campaign could be old news, I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that it’s an interesting marketing angle for a company that’s was bought by Coca-Cola for 4.1 billion dollars back in May. It could be one of several attempts to sell the sluice, one is that they’re pandering as though we don’t recognize that one of the largest corporate monoliths in the world isn’t hurting for cash.
“Try it! ‘Cause our CEOs need to each have a basketball franchise.”
Or it’s hubris.
“Try it! ‘Cause one day’s worth of our company’s income would set you and your unborn children for life. And, really, you’re inadvertently going to try something of ours anyway, since we own PowerAde, Schweppes, and Canada Dry. Why not try this? I mean, it’s water. Pretty soon we’ll probably own water itself, too. Other than Dannon and Dasani. We mean the actual element.”
Or it’s just lazy marketing.
Lazy marketing, however, it’s not. If you go to the Vitamin Water site they allow you, the humble burrito eater, to indulge in a little interactive advertising that reminds me very much of Twitter. You select your variety of Vitamin Water, the “voice” you want to call out your text, and then you type your layman’s attempt ad copy — 120 characters max.
For the first step I chose “rescue” flavor, because that’s my favorite and because it looks like pee.
The next move is to choose your voice. The scroll-bar offers, all in lower-case, mind you: “chipper english chap,” “two-packs-a-day kate,” “freckle-faced kid,” “seductive susan,” “snooty british butler,” “proper tea-sipping granny,” or “late night infomercial guy.” I noticed British, English, and tea. All of these things are associated with the United Kingdom. My Robert Smith garbled inner-voice moaned, “Google it.” Turns out that in May Glaceau launched Vitamin Water in the UK. Just a note.
I chose the voice that sounded the most similar to Robert Smith, which was “proper tea-sipping granny.” (They didn’t have a “dying feline suffocating in Jell-O” option. I’m sorry.)
The third step, “speak your mind,” was perplexing. They give you “try” as the first word, then you get your 120 characters, then it says “try rescue.” Well, okay. I typed:
sleeping with a snowboarder in a sauna filled with spiders
I clicked on “preview it.” I had to agree to some legal terms, the details of which I didn’t read. (Sorry.)
And then for the money shot…a British woman who sounded like she was speaking way too close to the mouthpiece of a cellphone said my sentence. She cut off the word snowboarder. It sounded like “try slippin’ with a snow bun inlet sauna fill twith spy duhs.”
So, in my relentless pursuit of revision and sudden recognition that my little text box should be dedicated to how Coca-Cola/Glaceau Vitamin Water of the “rescue” flavor is going to save my ass, I typed something else.
You can see the amazing here.
The reason why you can see, and hear, my unsuccessful and wholly un-British attempt at humor in advertising? Because they allow you to send, link, or display your “try it” sound byte. You can even put it on your MySpace, or on your….blog.
We’re of Team Facebook, so I won’t even address the MySpace option.
Even though I found Glaceau’s advertising to be sort of amusing (I could imagine a bunch of American men in suits discussing it during the marketing meeting, using words like “fresh,” “hip,” and “edgy.” One of them I’m sure even wore a loud-colored tie for the occasion.) It’s a novel approach to an old trick, for sure. They apparently also tried to branch out into the mobile marketing sector, by allowing people to text for coupons.
I’m still trying to get a handle on why the NBA on NBC wants you to text your vote for player of the game.
Simon texted his vote. It was for Jack Nicholson.
Noteworthy article by Seth Stevenson on the “Try It” campaign in Slate.
Try it for yourself.
Try writing me. Try it. AinsleyDrew at gmail