There are several commercials playing on our home television set these days that make me hit the channel change button.

Maybe that reaction comes from all my white hair. Maybe I’m just not in the age group sponsors are trying to capture. Maybe my values are different from what’s “acceptable” today.

One offender is a guy 40-45 years old walking down the street extolling the virtues of his jeans. He ends by saying “My girl friend says they make my butt look better.” That line erases from my mind the name of the jeans maker, meaning the sponsor has spent big bucks for nothing at our house. Even when I need jeans.

There’s the talking baby praising the automatic trading feature of his online stock account. “Saved me a pant load,” the diapered one says. I never get the name of the brokerage. I don’t want the name of that brokerage.

A young woman eying an online dating service … like so much raw meat … has never met the man she sees in his personal ad. But we are shown her fantasy of hopping in bed with him on their first outing.

Then there’s Mother Nature with the woman’s “monthly gift” as it’s put. A woman responds by showing the “quick draw” abilities of the whatever to take care of that “gift.” Even my wife cringes.

Another offender shows a submarine sinking to the depths as the crew tries valiantly to stop the incoming water. Near panic sets in as one of the compartments floods with sailors locked inside. Excellent production qualities. Then a quick shift. A child lifts the toy sub out of the bathtub. The ad is supposed to show how safe a particular investment company is. Those who created the TV spot have no idea of the horrors of war and how that tasteless depiction affects those of us who do.

Just singling out these bad ones doesn’t mean there aren’t others that are offensive or tasteless. These are just on the regular channels. I’m not including those specially made for MTV and VH-1 programming. Some are just plain sick.

TV ad production began years ago with the mantra “show the merchandise and tell ‘em how good it is.” Some ads still do that. Others are highly produced and expensive. Some humorous, some filled with computer-generated gimmicks, some just nuts and bolts.

In 1962, the Air Force sent me to NBC New York to learn TV production values from the pros. One job was working on the Kraft Foods TV spots on the Perry Como Show. There was no video tape then; no quality recording devices. So live shows, Como in this case, were performed twice. Once for eastern-central time zone audiences; once for intermountain-Pacific.

Kraft commercials for his show were live. Each time. A large kitchen on the 4th floor of Rockefeller Center was the set. One ad I clearly remember used huge amounts of cheese and fresh fruit. Chefs carved melon balls by the dozens and cut hundreds of cheese slices. All with new “full color” closeups while Ed Herlihy read the script. And they did it twice in two hours … from scratch … for national showings. Many, many shows.

I’m not saying today’s TV ads need to be so tasteful. But why, after 50 years or more, do I remember commercials from shows like Dinah Shore, Mitch Miller, Hit Parade and Como when I can’t tell you the name of the jeans in the offensive ad I saw last night? Which I wouldn’t buy if I did remember.

I realize there’s no accounting for some people’s taste … or lack of it. I know we live in a more coarse society. People have become use to … or numb to … a lot of coarseness. We find it everywhere.

But if a company wants to create an ad that will send me out in the streets to buy their product, being offended in my living room is not the way to do it. There must be a dozen jeans makers in the country. All I want to remember now is which one did the “butt-looks-better” ad so I can avoid them. My guess is I’m not the only old guy.

I enjoy creative commercials and look forward to the annual Super Bowl crop. Anheuser-Busch probably makes the most consistent, most memorable ads year after year. Even non-drinkers enjoy them. They could go off the deep end as some brewers do. But they don’t. Not in more than 50 years and thousands of spots.

I’ve started a list of those that offend. Like the jeans maker. They’re not going to get my business. In this case, I’ll stick with Wrangler. Bret Favre I can deal with.

Comments are closed.