Journal: News & Comment

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
# 11:33:00 PM:

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Ugliness as marketing ploy

Something bothered me about the current ad campaign for Subway sandwich shops -- the one with the obnoxious and arrogant man of indeterminate age and his similarly indeterminate pals who enjoy making fun of people who don't "get" Subway. I wasn't sure quite what was so bothersome about it -- other than the obvious obnoxiousness, of course. There are limitless numbers of obnoxious ads, though. Why did this set grate so much?

Rock critic Greil Marcus nailed it in Salon, as number three in his regular "Real Life Rock Top Ten" column:

...finally, George W. Bush is making himself felt in culture. The commercial takes Bush's sense of entitlement -- which derives from his lifelong insulation from anything most people eat, talk about, want or fear, and which is acted out by treating whatever does not conform to his insulation as an irritant -- and makes it into a story that tries to be ordinary. But the story as the commercial tells it is too cruel, its dramatization of the class divisions Bush has made into law too apparent. The man smugly laughing over embarrassing a kid is precisely Bush in Paris attempting to embarrass a French-speaking American reporter for having the temerity to demonstrate that he knew something Bush didn't. (Real Americans don't speak French.)...

The man in the ad even has Bush's smirk down. Bleah. I'll be avoiding Subway for awhile.


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