Saturday, August 27, 2005


I hate advertising! Granted, since I have a product (my book) that is forced to compete with thousands of other products (other books), I am forced to find creative ways to position what I have and cut through the ever-increasing clutter of the marketplace.

I find most advertising insults my intelligence. I also understand that I don’t fit the demographic or the IQ level of who most ad creators are aiming to reach. That being said, I’d love to be able to watch what little television I do without being pitched to incessantly. Lately, rather than channel surf, I’ve been paying attention to some of the commercials (as painful as that sometimes can be), trying to figure out what and who the demographic is and what exactly the strategy is behind the pitch.

Take for instance the new Chrysler ad pairing hip-hop icon (and Girls Gone Wild pitchman) Snoop Dogg and the elderly business tycoon, Lee Iacocca. Set on a golf course and featuring a modified Chrysler-styled golf cart, the 70-something Iacocca obviously seems confused by Snoop’s slangalese, such as “Fo’shizzle, I-ka-zizzle,” replies S’Dogg to his geriatric golf partner.

Iacocca, who has regularly starred in his company’s commercials promoting Chrysler products, is known for his famous pitch, “If you can find a better car, buy it”. Apparently, the ad is designed to reach a younger audience, as Snoop ads his own spin to the phrase, modifying it to, "If the ride is more fly, then you must buy," Snoop Dog says.

I find it interesting that probably many of the courses that wealthy white seniors, such as the kind where Iacocca might play, are probably closed to many blacks, other than to caddy or perform other menial tasks. Granted, Snoop Dogg has now attained a measure of status (read, a fat bank roll), which makes that point moot for him.

I don’t know, maybe it’s me, but I see the commercial somewhat in the vein of the old vaudeville acts, where the blacks were exploited and provided a prop for white audiences to laugh at and have fun with. While a number of African-Americans have risen to positions of leadership running record labels in the hip hop and rap music world, most of the top spots and positions of power are strangely held by white males?

Despite all the angst-filled rants of gangsta rappers, it isn't long before they manage to accumulate the accoutrements deemed appropriate by their white handlers. It’s like Thomas Frank and a handful of social critics write about in the pages of his books and publications like The Baffler; there will always be a certain measure of market-driven rebellion, outfitted and marketed by Madison Avenue. Real rebellion and god-forbid, true revolution, however, will never be tolerated by the puppet masters, moving the strings. As they say in the capitalist biz, the more things change, the more they stay the same!

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