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.
Have you ever seen a bad commercial? Of course you have. You’ve probably seen tens of thousands of bad commercials. In New York City in 2007, it was estimated that citizens saw around 5,000 ads a day, and a survey found that half the respondents agreed advertising had “gotten out of control.”