2010.10.20 If your car overheats, don’t call an ad agency

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

I can’t help but laugh out loud when I see the new television commercial for Viagra. A guy in a late 1960s Chevy Camaro SS is driving along in some rural area when his classic car starts to overheat. Luckily for him, there happens to be a little country store just ahead.

He pulls in, and with the Camaro still steaming, saunters inside and purchases what appears to be about a one liter bottle of water. As he walks back outside, he opens the bottle and takes a sip, then pours the rest into the radiator of the Camaro. Then, he drives off into the sunset as the announcer finishes his spiel, leaving me with several questions.

First, what does any of this little scenario have to do with the merchandise being advertised? The only two products you see in the ad are the classic Chevy and the bottled water. Chevy is currently selling an updated version of the Camaro so the ad obviously wasn’t for them. If you weren’t listening to the announcer, you might think it was meant to sell Aquafina or some other brand of bottled water. I don’t see how watching the commercial would make me think of Viagra.

Secondly, and more importantly, at least for the longevity of the car, does this guy know the least thing about automobiles? Opening the radiator of a steaming, overheating automobile is a bad idea in the first place, unless you’re into third-degree burns on your hands or face. If you manage to dodge that bullet, dumping a large bottle of 35-degree water into a radiator heated past the boiling point will probably end up damaging either the radiator or the Camaro’s engine block. Even those “Car Talk” guys know that.

In their book, Tom and Ray Magliozzi of NPR’s “Car Talk” radio show recommend letting a steaming car sit for at least 30 minutes before you even open the hood. And heed their advice: “If you pour cold water in a hot engine, you might crack something.” If the Viagra ad was anything like real life, a follow-up might show the guy broke down for good somewhere near Donner Pass. And the only thing he might have to worry will last longer than four hours will be the wait for a tow truck.

Obviously, the folks handing out MBAs in advertising haven’t taught their graduates anything more about auto mechanics over the past decade. I still remember the old cell phone commercial from ten years ago starring Jamie Lee Curtis in which her late-1950s Cadillac strands her with an overheating problem. What’s the first thing she does? She takes off the radiator cap and looks inside!

Ten years later, after dozens of reconstructive and plastic surgeries restore her severely burned face to an appearance suitable for advertising campaigns, she finally gets a job promoting yogurt stuffed full of fiber, the only food she’s been able to eat since her horrible disfigurement. OK, OK, I made up the whole paragraph, but I hope you see my point. People can get hurt following the examples shown in these ads. You’d think the ad agencies would know better.

At least in Ms. Curtis’s old commercial, she used the cell phone manufactured by the sponsor to call a mechanic, who came to her rescue. At the end of the ad, she calls him back to invite him to a party. So the product in question was shown twice, solving a problem each time. That’s what you could call a good ad. The Viagra spot, not so much.

Granted, the Viagra folks can’t exactly show the product being used in their commercials, but they should be able to come up with something better than a guy abusing his classic car in the middle of nowhere. A slight tweaking of the ad might be in order.

Maybe before he follows through with his plan of dumping freezing water in his car’s hot radiator, he falls in love with the country store cashier, played (surprise!) by Jamie Lee Curtis. She invites him back to her place to wait while the Camaro cools down. He brings along his hidden stash of medication provided by his sponsor. She offers him a fiber-spiked yogurt furnished by hers. Sparks fly. Ain’t America great?

  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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