Do You Remember This Classic from 2008?
There was a time on fishing shows where having non-endemic commercials (ad-speak for big time advertisers, not just fishing-related stuff) was a big deal. When I first saw them I thought we had finally arrived. Then, I realized that big-time advertisers on cable networks buy big-time chunks of air and they’ve got to run the ads somewhere. Whatever the case, I was excited.
Fast forward a decade or two and we’ve got the non-endemic heavy-hitters everywhere. Only one problem: I’m bored. At least when boat and tackle companies upgraded their commercial offerings, I could see a fish jump, a boat race past and some were even funny.
Of the boat and motor companies, Evinrude seems to have the most fun when it comes to television advertising. They’ve realized that we can only take so many oh-so-serious baritone announcers imploring us to buy their version of the same technology that everyone else is selling. Evinrude, unlike some others, has a sense of humor. They know that we make our buying decisions in countless ways - whether it is getting smoked by a guy with a different engine or – more often – wondering why we bought that @*!!?%+!13$&*%!!$$!!=*7$#2!$&*!(!)#@%$^+*%&^$#@!!@$#@$$#@!($!) piece of 21st century crap that could keep a small Middle Eastern sultanate in Mercedes E-Class golf carts till the camels come home.
Case in point: In Evinrude’s recent commercial - testing the odd and sometimes obsessive world in which anglers live – features two guys clearly overwhelmed by the need for speed. Whooping and hollering, the passenger loses his hat and, shortly thereafter, the driver loses everything. Funny? I thought so. Especially since the guy driving the boat – left in day-glo thong underwear – has never seen the business end of a Bowflex. His partner’s reaction, to paraphrase yet another non-endemic commercial, was “priceless”.
Only one problem: When I first saw the spot, the only concession to public decency was fuzzing the guy’s backside as he leaned over to retrieve his clothes. (I assume this was Evinrude’s original intent.) Then, as I channel surfed to various other outdoor programs, I realized that the “thought police” had entered my angling world. On some shows, the thong was fine, but the blurry final shot was replaced with a big, blue fuzzy circle. On others, digital fuzz covered both shots. Still others – perhaps asleep at the political or moral correctness switch - kept showing the original version. What’s up? What’s happening? What’s going on? Who makes these decisions?
As I pondered this thought, suddenly our friend Bob was there – in all his glory – hawking Enzyte to a nation of young and impressionable anglers. Switch channels and here is some dreamy model talking about “her man’s quality response” for Cialis. Sorry, but I detect just a teeny, weenie (no offense Bob) hint of hypocrisy in all this.
Like most right thinking Americans, I was put off by an aging Janet Jackson exposing her breast to the world during Super Bowl XXX-whatever. (Beyonce would have been my choice.) I remember distraught fathers calling sports talk radio incensed that their expectations of a family-friendly event were deep-sixed by this spectacle. I admit, I wasn’t pleased with these shenanigans (although I was refilling my lager when the big moment occurred), but I did sense the double standard at work. I asked myself this question: “Will a kid be scarred for life by seeing the real thing, yet somehow ignore the countless, barely-clothed bosoms appearing in nearly every beer commercial on the same broadcast?”
For those of us old enough to remember a simpler time, television programs and advertising left something to the imagination. They believed that less is more. Fifty years ago, some also believed that Disney’s little amusement park in Anaheim would fail and that Elvis kid had no future. Things have certainly changed. Now, I might even be put off by an old re-run of Dragnet or Adam-12 because both would be lacking in any super-slow motion death scenes. Or voluptuous beauties blowing everyone away in a super-slow death scene. No extended car chase? Less than 20 vehicles flipped, crushed, exploded or disintegrated? By today’s standards, I could feel a little cheated.
Clearly, we’ve gone way past innuendo because now it’s all about reality. Well, actually, it’s all about stupidity. Why else would we watch a bass fisherman pick from a bimbo-laden livewell of lovelies? Is a kid – or anyone for that matter - less insulted by the Bachelor’s “Fantasy Room” (where I can assure you they weren’t picking imaginary football teams) than some fat guy in a thong?
In an odd way, all this reminded me of a story from World War II. A young fighter pilot returning from his first combat mission retched all over the cockpit of his new P-51 Mustang. Positive that his grizzled crew chief would not take kindly to this lack of intestinal fortitude, the queasy aviator taxied his plane to a stop, fearing the worst. The crew chief stepped up on the wing, helped pull back the canopy and looked in. After a calculated silence he said, “I’ve seen worse.”
The very same sentiment applies to the Evinrude commercial. I have seen worse and this ain’t it. Leave your blue dots and fuzzy screens to Oprah. I’m a fisherman. I know how to cull.
Outdoor writer for Bassmasters, Bass Times, Western Outdoor News, and countless other magazines throughout the US. Here are some of my excerpts from Boat and Walley Magazine that just might put a smaile on your face.