Words can sometimes make me sad. Not so much the emotional kind of sadness, like crying after watching a particularly touching episode of COPS, but more of a hollow sadness like someone just kicked my soul in the balls. It’s an echoing, empty pain that drives me to despair over our society and our progress and the messages we’re sending to the aliens who will one day stumble upon our ravaged planet and try to understand us. It really hurts.
Case in point: nonsensical advertising.
I don’t know what any of the words in that poster (aside from the “snack” part of that stupid name) have to do with Snickers, but I know that I don’t care for them or their arrangement or their foolish, misplaced wit. See…that’s the thing though. I knew that was a Snickers ad! Oh, those delightful advertising professionals are ever so clever, aren’t they? I’ll bet Don Draper came up with that one after three highballs, a handful of Pall Malls and an inappropriate fling with the client’s housekeeper. I’ll bet he and the boys threw that one up on the wall after an all-nighter at the comedy clubs flirting with cocktail waitresses and ad-libbing pithy monologues about politics and the cost of a good suit in Manhattan. Trust me, I work in advertising. This is how these things happen.
But, alas, this isn’t some fever dream from a disgruntled television writer. No, this is real life. How can I tell? Because Snickers has a Facebook page that ties into the advertising. And there ain’t nothing more real-er than Facebook, yo! On said page, you can Learn to Speak Snacklish (which has, evidently, been trademarked because there must have been a huge stampede for ownership of that phrase). You can see a dozen or so more of these messaging monstrosities here, unless you value your continued vision and/or that meal you just ate.
I guess this is what passes for “branding” these days…connecting the traditional and nontraditional advertising worlds with our day-to-day social networking. My question would be, does it work? Is there someone so enamored with Snickers that they’re going to spend any amount of time on the Snickers Facebook page chatting with other Snickers aficionados about the texture of nougat or the fine art of caramel stretching? Will they be trading their favorite photos of Snickers wrappers or Snickers in various states of being consumed? Will the creepy sub-genre of Snickers porn be born (or, if it already existed and I somehow missed it, resurrected)? And will any of that interaction matter three days later when they’re standing in line at the grocery store and decide to buy a candy bar? Will they think back fondly on those long-lost halcyon days of internet usage and random meaningless posters and think “I want a Snickers” or will they just say “Dude, they have Zagnuts here!” Just what is the goal?
I will grant the Snickers tribe one caveat. At least there was a certain amount of effort put into this one. I mean, they did print up posters and have them placed. And that’s a huge step beyond the “innovative” laziness of the Skittles folks. See, this week, Skittles opened their homepage to a streaming Twitter feed where consumers were able to live-blog their feelings about Skittles and their many flavors and uses, from tasty snacks to anal beads. Every Twitter post from the day, that mentioned Skittles, was aggregated on the Skittles homepage for all to see. All in uncensored glory…filled with curse words and multiple racial epithets (which is funny, because I don’t remember Twittering about Skittles that day). Some laughed, some cried. Some “experts” called it a grand maneuver similar to Deep Blue’s swift dismantling of Kasparov in the first game of the classic 1996 showdown. Some others thought it was kinda dumb.
Skittles next redirected all web traffic to its Facebook page, perhaps to better control content or perhaps because they’re just batshit crazy and wanted to confuse everyone. And today, all Skittles.com visitors end up on the Wikipedia page for the colorful candy. I think I’m going to log in as a Wikipedia editor and make up a fake history about Skittles being invented by Nazi scientists. That’ll teach ’em!
So what’s the goal of this rambling diatribe? I honestly don’t know. Maybe I’m confused. Maybe I’m bored. Maybe I’m just thinking “Hey, it’s Friday. Nobody cares what I scribble down on the blog today because everyone is either a) already drunk or b) thinking about getting drunk.” Whatever the reason, I suppose I should come to some sort of conclusion before you all drift back over to Facebook to network over your favorite munchies.
Well, I was chatting with a co-worker yesterday. He was asking me about Twitter. He wanted to know what it was and its purpose for being. The reason for his inquiry was an article he read about how Facebook wants to turn to a more “real-time” model similar to Twitter. We were both kind of baffled by this. First of all, I see no real use in Twitter. My life isn’t nearly fabulous enough to tell you about it in short bursts every few moments. In addition, I was under the impression that Facebook was already real-time. I post a status update to let all my “friends” know what I just ate for lunch and…PRESTO!…there it is, on my profile page for all my “friends” to see RIGHT NOW. How can it get any more real-er than that, yo?
And really, how much more immediate do our lives need to be? And why does Snickers need to try so hard? And who made money from betting on Garry Kasparov to beat that damn machine? And why did Don Draper run off to California when he has a perfectly good wife waiting for him at home.
That’s too many questions for a Friday. I’m gonna go get drunk now.