This first is one that I think a lot of people like. It's for AT&T from their "When 'Just okay,' isn't good enough" series. (Actually I didn't even remember that it's for AT&T -- I had to look it up. And that's never a good sign for an ad. It's okay for an ad to be annoying if the point is to get product attention which leads to sales. Note that "product attention" does not always lead to sales.) This particular ad in question is the one that takes place at a business meeting, and a guy says, "That's okay, I speak Dutch," and then proceeds to screw up the translation which the Dutch businessman, not knowing a word of English, think is on the level. It's pretty funny on the surface -- but inches under the surface is idiotic, which is why it bugs me so much.
If there are any people in the non-English-speaking world who speak English the absolute best -- and maybe even better than many Americans -- it's perhaps the Dutch. Maybe the Danes are neck-and-neck with them, but I think the Dutch might be ahead. That's because I think the Dutch (other than just speaking English impeccably) also know American society, culture and politics incredibly well. When I've been on those tech junkets to the IFA trade show in Berlin, I was always blown away by how insightful the Dutch were about the United States. I even remember one conversation about politics where I referenced a particular video from a few months earlier that was part of a political story, and as I began to explain it, the fellow stopped me and said, yes, he knew about it. In fact, when I wrote about the Consumer Electronics Show last year, I singled out a fascinating couple of products that did near-instant translations -- and the company making them was from Holland. The Dutch really know language. And care about language.
So, if there is ANY people in the world who do NOT need a translator in an international business meeting meeting, of all people -- it's the Dutch. The ad agency could have picked any country in the world to be the one needing a translator...and the one they picked was the one more than probably any in the entire world who didn't need translating. They probably did it because "Dutch" is a funny word. But there are lots of languages who names are funny and could have fit in. Azerbaijani, Portuguese, Bahasa, Urdu, whatever. But no, they picked "Dutch." Ack.
The other ad is for Celebrity Cruises. Actually, this doesn't so much bug me as I'm utterly bewildered by it. They have a woman running through a Celebrity Cruise ship in an ethereal sort of montage, along with images of her eating and playing and having fun, and this wonderful soaring song is playing with a woman's voice singing, "Feed your head! Feed your head!"
Now, most people who lived through the late 1960s knows immediately what that song is. It's one of the most infamous of the era since it actually got banned on a number of stations. That's Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane singing "White Rabbit." And the line "Feed your head" is taken from Alice in Wonderland and very blatantly in the song (and probably in the book too, but much, much, much more subtly) is a reference to to taking psychodelic drugs.
One pill makes you larger,
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you,
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall
Which leads to --
When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's off with her head
Remember what the Dormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head
Now, if Celebrity Cruise Line wants to promote an immersive psychodelic-like cruise with a hallucinogenic experience that overwhelms you sensory overload, fine. But the problem is that they're promoting this particular cruise for families! In fact, at the very end of the ad it says, "Kids sail free." That's what's bizarre.
I'm sure that their thinking is that there so much to do on their cruise, and there's huge amounts of delicious food to over-indulge in and it's all an overwhelming bounty for your senses. But -- but that's Grace Slick. And that's "White Rabbit." And she's singing about stuffing your head with psychodelic drugs. "Feed your head, feed your head." And...hey, folks, "Kids sail free." Totally, utterly weird.
And yes, they know what it is. This is the full one-minute version of the ad. They absolutely 100% know what the ad is. Zero chance of it slipping under the wire or misinterpreting it. This version doesn't have the "Kids sail free" sales pitch at the end -- apparently that's reserved for showing it on TV -- but it does start with a little kid by the pool with his dad, being hugged, almost the first thing you see.
Again, I don't dislike the ad. It's really well made. I just am utterly bewildered by who on earth they're trying to sell to.