I've become highly aware how stoners are targeted in TV commercials, subtly (eye drops; Justin Long as the Mac guy) and not-so-subtly (Taco Bell).
I have appeared in a couple of commercials, and as a result I now watch them, rapt, as if they are interesting. I mainly watch television ads to see if they feature people I know or to get jealous and wish I were in them, but I wind up getting particularly involved when I’m high. Mad Men has only fueled this stoner line of inquiry. What’s the message? How was this pitched? Are all of the U.S. McDonald’s commercials really shot at that one fake McDonald’s? Did he just book that because of his crazy eyebrows?
I’ve also become highly aware of how stoners are targeted, subtly (eye drops; any commercial set in a basement with two people in grubby T-shirts watching TV; Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut “It’s Morning Somewhere” spots; Justin Long as the Mac guy) and not-so-subtly (Taco Bell). There are a few benefits to designing a commercial that appeals to stoners: (1) we are a sort-of-large TV-watching demographic; (2) even ten seconds of audio and visual stimuli are enough to blow our minds; (3) we might be convinced to pay $30 for Jerry’s Deli to deliver us an entire carrot cake and several gallons of soup.
But so many other products have missed the opportunity to market to high me. Here are some commercials I’d like to see at night when I’m staring at the tube, breathing through my mouth and highly receptive:
Coconut water. Open on a scientist who explains, using archaic cartoon figures, what percentage of water makes up my body. Show me a desert, then a cave made of salt, then a pair of chapped hands rubbing against each other and making a scraping noise. Finish with a clip of a coconut being drunk through a straw by a monkey sitting next to a waterfall and four seconds of an MGMT song where they aren’t talking about trees. Flash me a graph illustrating electrolytes and their benefits. It doesn’t have to be a real graph as long as it’s up there for one second only.
Toyota Camry. Open on a school parking lot. Our hero is sitting in the car. The digital clock reads 8:01 a.m. We see him start to open the door, then change his mind. He reclines the seat all the way back. He opens the sunroof. A butterfly flies in the sunroof and lands on the hero’s nose. Dozens of butterflies follow, and the car becomes a spaceship, and then a logo appears made of stars that says “FUTURE,” underneath which would be a meteor tugging a banner that says “IT’S SAFE IN HERE.” We zoom out to find that the hero is hurtling through space and skipping school at the same time, which is aspirational. The space ship becomes a bed and everybody goes to sleep to dream about safely playing hooky, not brake failure.
Soup. This one takes place in a bomb shelter. We have a young family, shivering and miserable but with good hair, nearing the end of their rations. A baby is coughing on the dusty floor. Someone cries, “I don’t think we’ll live! Everything has expired, and now so will we!” Someone else digs up a dusty can of soup, and we watch each family member slowly sip his allotted tablespoon. As we fade out, a drop of soup falls to the floor. Everyone bursts into tears.
Homeless cats. Show a slideshow of the faces of homeless cats over a dramatic voiceover (Oprah, if she’s available; if not, perhaps the woman who does the radio spots for Pavillions) explaining their circumstances. Give each a name, a human name like Bill or Mr. Shaw. Show a photo of an elderly cat with milky eyes and then explain that a person cannot have too many pets, because that would be like having too much love, and that landlords never look into these sorts of things.
Tourism boards. Explain slowly and with photos exactly what I can eat when I visit your city. Emphasize foods that feature oozing cheese. Show a person swimming with dolphins and exclaiming at how warm the seawater is, and then imply that the state in which I reside is overdue for an earthquake. Then show a phone number.
Fake meat. Spell out, in 30 cinematic seconds, how to construct a Big Mac out of Morningstar patties. Hire someone to reassure me that the texture of frozen soy alternative does not suggest a futuristic housing project in some shut-in’s bleak fantasy. Show the actress enjoying a fake burger while she pets a cow, applies relish, wears a comfortable but classy cotton dress, toasts her bun in veggie margarine, watches the sunrise. Flood the 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. window with this.
Household cleaners with bleach. Zoom into the grout. Show me the microscopic animals who travel in amphibious herds across the wetlands of our toilets. Zoom in on a group of teeny predators, then a lazy hand squeezing a trigger at them and immediately raising a cold soda out of frame. It would be great if there were a shot of someone scrubbing away at a stain that won’t depart and then zooming in on the germs all over his hands. The first marketing agency to conceive of zooming in on a bathroom microbe was headed by Don Draper and Albert Einstein. Zooming. Microscopes. Zooming. Microscopes. I see the eyelashes of the parasites; I get so itchy I consider adding laundry detergent to my bath water. I will buy this product, unless I forget.
Enter High Minded, where Tess Lynch revisits previously forgotten epiphanies, drags her lazy, leaden body on adventures and—whoa. I think this pudding's texture might improve if I added a handful of popcorn and some, like, canned blueberries. Look for a new column every other Friday at GOOD. Collage, as always, by Beth Hoeckel.