It was with a keen interest that I sat through the season premiere of “Mad Man” in July, which was presented with limited commercial interruption by BMW. Calculating how much BMW must have spent to be the sole sponsor of the Emmy Award-winning drama series required so much of my attention that I was barely able to focus on how the Drapers were faring following their quickie divorce at the end of season three.
After coming up with some rough numbers, I changed the channel, concluding it was inappropriate to continue watching a program made possible by The Ultimate Driving Machine knowing full well that I have The Ultimate I Could Give A Crap About What I Drive As Long As It Gets Me Safely From Point A To Point B parked outside, and that my next car will likely be a mini-van. I’m clearly not an audience member coveted by AMC and BMW.
At the same time, it’s not clear exactly in whose audience I belong. I was channel surfing a few weeks ago when I paused to watch a Beyoncé concert on the Palladia channel. She and I rocked out together to “If I Were A Boy” and “You Outta Know” when a commercial came on for a telephone number featuring “Girls who just want to have fun with you right now.”
I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a deliberate Cyndi Lauper reference in there, especially considering the amount of clothes worn by the ladies in the spot sewn together wouldn’t have equaled half of one of the costumes worn by Cyndi Lauper in any of her 1980s-era videos. Besides, what’s so important that these girls have to talk to me right now? Beyoncé’s real fans must know the answer.
Magazine ads don’t speak to me much more clearly. The only magazine to which I still subscribe is the kind that accuses a movie star of being pregnant if she had a second Arnold Palmer at lunch and is retaining an ounce and a half of water as a result. (I stopped getting “O, The Oprah Magazine” when the sight of the stack of unread issues piling up on my nightstand starting giving me agita. Like the Sunday edition of The New York Times, there was too much pressure to read it from cover to cover, get smarter, inspired, and be a better person.)
Once you pass through all the celebrity photos that make your wardrobe, jewelry, groceries, house, husband, kids and life seem particularly unglamorous and outdated, then flip past the fashion and beauty tips (where it details the mascara and toeless boots you can purchase that will hopefully make people think you could be the is-she-or-isn’t-she-getting-married model-cum-actress du jour this weekend), but before you get to the D-List Personality Wardrobe Malfunction section, you’ll stumble across the ads for the miracle weight loss supplements (that the fine print says only works with portion control and exercise, which is otherwise known as Weight Watchers) featuring such luminaries as the fifth lead in that straight-to-DVD B movie from nine years ago.
I’m pretty sure I’m also not the target demographic of the magazine ad starring a girl wearing a gel touch strapless push-up bra who’s posing in a hot air balloon. Especially because the only time you’d find me in either — together or separately — will be in a nightmare about one or both.
Same thing goes for the ads with the solid sterling silver and crystal pendants featuring your choice of 24 breeds of dogs, the green M&M sneakers (with the sparkling green M&M charm on the laces that say, “I melt for no one”), the self-tanning towelettes, and the Booty Pop panties.
And I’m hopeful that anyone I know is also not in the magazine’s demographic, because I don’t want them responding to the “get your career diploma at home” ad. After all, who wants their car repaired or teeth cleaned by someone who learned the trade in their jammies?
Then there are the re-targeted and re-marketed Internet ads. I don’t need to be reminded, for obvious reasons, that perhaps I was shopping for sensible shoes or Googling for information about the rash on my arm. It’s just an ugly reminder that Big Brother has an evil twin cousin online who’s as bad or worse than the mean girls in seventh grade.
Facebook seems to be a little more dialed-in with their ads, what with their offers of free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and free money. I figure if I cash in on enough of the latter, just maybe I’ll be worthy of watching “Mad Men” again at some point.
More at meredithcarroll.com.