Two current ads use tragic events for comedic effect. One does this effectively; the other does not. I would let you guess which is which, but this is the Internet, so I’m going to spell it out for you. WARNING: the second one says you have to be 18 or older.
The Crystal Light ad puts the product front and center and directly calls out what some women must already be thinking*—why bother worrying about bikini season if I’m never actually going to be in a bikini? The dialogue does a nice job of naturally (for a commercial) incorporating the product and its benefit into the conversation. And it sets up the expectation that “something” will happen next. I’ll be honest that I didn’t expect the Crystal Light “I believe in Crystal Light because I believe in me” brand to go to a plane crash. The humor in the ad is in the misdirection and subtle acting, but also in the absurdity—this is not a real plane crash; there aren’t any dead bodies; just supermodels and great lighting. And the final line, “I’m going to get wet” is surprisingly double entendre. Refreshing, Crystal Light.
As for the second ad … Oh, PETA. Did you forget that women are animals, too? Shouldn’t they be treated ethically**?
Apparently not. This ad would be controversial or offensive if it wasn’t so embarrassingly bad. Let’s count the ways, shall we?
1. It’s built on the premise that domestic abuse is hilarious
By mimicking the muted colors and serious voiceover style of actual Public Service Announcements, we, the viewers, automatically empathize when we see a woman in a neck brace.
2. It throws out a convoluted “condition” with an unfunny acronym
BWVAKTBOOM? Try again. How about, “Vegan And, Girl, I'm Nasty, Amen”?
3. The message that vegans can “bring it like a tantric pornstar” is dubious.
Are vegans healthier? Possibly. But is it the vegan lifestyle or that they pay more attention to what they eat? If the thought is that fewer vegans have erectile dysfunction, then why not use an old couple? Then it might actually be unexpected to see old people “bringing it like tantric pornstar”.
4. There are too many steps between vegans having rough sex and how that helps protect animals.
I feel as though PETA has fallen into their own trap, whereby they feel that every thing they do has to be “controversial”. Are we supposed to think a vegan lifestyle is “controversial”, too? Will that seem attractive to most people? But, if the message of the commercial is that the vegan lifestyle has many unexpected benefits, like an increased sex life, then why can’t that be the message? It would be much more credible to challenge guys who might be having performance issues*** to try a vegan lifestyle for a month and see if that resolves their problem. Unfortunately, as it stands, PETA is having performance issues all its own.
*Okay, women do not actually think this, but it is a nice set-up.
**Can of worms … opened.
***No, not me.
***No, not me.