February 6, 2005

“Desperate” Advertisers

Lynette: “Tom, I am sorry about tonight. Truly, but these days, if I’m competing with anyone, it’s the Bree Van de Kamps of the world with their spotless kitchens, and their perfect kids, who throw fabulous parties where nothing ever goes wrong. I try so hard to keep up, but I can’t.”

Tom: “Lynette, that’s not my expectation.”

Lynette: “And when you work on a pitch, or you bring the partners over, I am reminded of a world I left behind where I was the winner, and people tried to keep up with me! I can’t go back. I can’t win where I am. I’m stuck in the middle, and it is really starting to get to me.”

Desperate Housewives
ABC Television

Clip from Desperate Housewives

Lynette thinks Bree is perfect. But poor Bree has her own moral dilemmas. (Quicktime Movie, 1.8 MB)

Television ad from Giant Foods

Borrowing heavily from Desperate Housewives’ moral message, Giant Foods hits us where it counts. Buy for our kids’ sake. (Quicktime Movie, 1.3 MB)

Suburbanites love ABC’s hit prime time soap Desperate Housewives because we can relate. Exhausted as we are at the end of a day of shuttling between cubicles and/or shuttling the kids from one activity to another, we have just enough energy to plop ourselves on the couch and be voyeurs in someone else’s life. The characters in DH are our safe dopplegangers. We laugh, we cry, and we relate to these people with just the right amount of proximity and distance.

Our guide in this activity is Mary Alice Young, the ever-present and very dead neighbor to these women of Wisteria Lane. In death she has become our stoic Greek narrator, above it all and always there to remind us of the moral dilemmas these stories represent.

Desperate Housewives has come to represent our suburban demographic in the skewed world of Hollywood. It’s success will spawn the inevitable imitators and second-rate knockoffs. Reality TV will give way to Morality TV. Humor will make way for the Message that our actions have serious consequences. Just in time for George Bush’s final term imperatives.

But before the Christian Right discovers this gold mine, advertisers are already one step ahead of them. And they’ve taken aim at every desperate suburban housewife. Giant Food, the biggest grocery store chain in the Baltimore-Washington metro area, is presently airing this commercial (Quicktime Movie, 1.3 MB). Does it sound familiar? Here’s a clip from Desperate Housewives for comparison (Quicktime Movie, 1.8 MB).

Like its program counterpart the Giant ad also has a Mary Alice Young. But this one extols the virtues of Bonus Bucks: there are important consequences for our families when we buy at Giant. “The more you buy, the more you help,” delivers Giant’s Mary Alice.

Her message is subtle. Like the original, the background music and lilt of the narrator’s voice softens the blow. And like poor Lynette, Wisteria Lane’s most harried citizen, Giant is hoping we don’t have the energy to protest (or consider going to a competitor where prices are 20% less). For every purchase desperate housewives (and househusbands) make, we can improve our schools. The more we buy (and the more Giant profits) the more we can give our children good educations. “Giving our kids a brighter future is easy when you’ve got a Giant on your side.”

Lower prices (and a brighter future for our immediate family) or computers for our kids’ schools. That is a moral dilemma worth its own primetime soap opera. Now playing, but only in Suburbia.

Technorati icon [ , , , ]

View Most Recent Story:::Notify me when there's a new missive!

Related Posts with Thumbnails