Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Walk away Carl

OK, I know I shouldn't be doing this, ragging on other people's ad work, but I'm in Facebook jail so the traffic is going to be so low no one will even read this post. 

Plus, it's prime sports season with baseball playoffs, college football in the heat of mid-season, and the pros just getting into rhythm, so I see this stuff all the time.

Plus plus, I'm old and I just don't care anymore.

I hate these Carl the Broker spots for Schwab. Keep in mind Carl, doesn't work for Schwab, he works at an unnamed competitor. And bears the brunt of criticism from random everyday people shilling for Schwab. Already there's too much math going on. And having sat in thousands of focus groups I can tell you 95% of the viewers will not "get it." 

The other 5% won't care.

The storytelling is beyond contrived. In this screen grab, Carl shows up on Career Day at a grammar school to talk about the exciting world of Wall Street. Yeah, we've never seen the Career Day conceit before. Conveniently, the classroom is filled with kids who are all armed with plodding data-driven RTB's, because...frankly, I don't know why.

I guess someone thought it would be funny. Not funny, with actuals laughs or anything. Clients don't like funny. They like soft funny. I believe Planners and wily Creative Directors call it "charming."  

I call it neither. 

Sadly there is a whole treasure chest of this running gag for Schwab. Even sadder the airwaves are awash in this type of insulting, film-the-brief type of advertising, including women going to a Tupperware party and commenting on how fresh the air in Madge's living room smells, or everyday people singing the Ozampic song, or other people who can't tell a Buick from a non-Buick. 

And then when the difference is pointed is pointed, exclaim some gibberish like, "Oh that is so you."


It rattles my cage. Particularly in light of my past connection to Schwab. And an ill-fated pitch that I wrote about in R17, ten years ago. You can read that here.

It also brings to mind an interview that Gerry Graf gave to Adweek some time ago. An intrepid reporter asked him why so much of his work entailed absurdist surreal situations, for example the Dead Mouse Theater for a Pest Control client, Sprint, Kayak, or even the Starburst Berries and Cream commercial which is now trending on Tok Tok  and has millions of young people, including my daughters, singing the Berries and Cream jingle ad infinitum.

Graf's response, and I'm paraphrasing here, is that...

"if you look in the broader context of advertising, there is nothing absurdist or surreal about the work. The real absurdity is clients spending billions of dollars on contrived crap advertising -- (ie. Carl)-- that nobody notices. And if they do notice, they wish they hadn''t."

Oh Gerry, that is so you.

1 comment:

george tannenbaum said...

After the 1999 crash,
I wrote a platform that never made it to Schwab, as well.
"The Era of Rational Exhuberance is Here."
Oh, well.