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Friday, September 02, 2011

TGIF Special Edition: Those Annoying Dairy Queen Ads Over The Years

Over the past few months, we've dedicated our Friday entries to the idea of television sitcoms.  We would discuss characters in sitcoms, episodes of sitcoms, the sitcoms themselves.  Sometimes, we even did actor spotlights, such as the ones we did about Tracey Gold and Valerie Harper

That's all fine and dandy here, but what some don't realize is that advertisers can sometimes shell out huge amounts of money to sponsor these shows.  The bigger the hit show, the bigger the profits the businesses can make.  Why do you think companies go all out on commercials during Super Bowl Sunday?

So, in order to continue being entertained (especially for those of us like myself who have not yet discovered the power of TiVo), we're required to sit through a couple of 120 second commercial breaks that split up the episode into three or four smaller segments.

To be fair, some of these commercials can be quite entertaining, funny, and downright hysterical to watch.

Then there's this guy.

I'm sure that anyone who has watched at least one television program during the year 2011 has seen this dude doing wild and crazy things from setting rainbows on fire to blowing bubbles with kittens inside of them.

Try as you might, you cannot escape deep-voiced, pencil-thin mustached dude. 

Believe me, I've tried.

Yet, there's something peculiar about these commercials.  Particularly with the ones starring the guy pictured up above.  Like a horrific train wreck where puddles of chemicals spill into the ground and people stagger out of the twisted and bent passenger cars, these ads are designed so that one cannot look away.

And look away I cannot.

Dairy Queen's ad campaigns over the years have involved quite a number of people in a number of situations.  Each commercial seemed to cater to the extensive Dairy Queen menu up above from hamburgers to Blizzards.  French fries to Dilly Bars.  Onion rings to double dipped cones.  You get the picture.  Hot eats, cool treats, they treated you right.

Say...that wouldn't make a bad slogan.  In fact, I think it WAS used as a slogan for the Dairy Queen company years ago.

I can still remember back when I was a kid growing up in Ontario, Canada.  At the time, our Dairy Queen restaurant was situated on the outskirts of town, and if memory serves me, I think ours was so small that they had limited food items.  They had SOME hot food, but it was mostly the frozen treats.  And it was only open from May - October because, well, I'm Canadian, and apparently they didn't feel that Canadians wanted an ice cream treat in the middle of January.

For the record, I would have.  And now that we have a Dairy Queen that is open all year long, I can.

Back during my childhood years though, anytime I would go out to Dairy Queen for a treat, the place would always be completely packed.  Because the restaurant was only open six months a year, it almost became the norm to have to wait at least twenty minutes before being served.  Fortunately, that particular Dairy Queen had arcade games inside of it, so I played that while we waited for our ice cream.  All three of us kids went with our parents to the restaurant, and all of us usually ordered the exact same thing.  Mom would get the Dilly Bar, Dad would have the double dipped cone, the sisters would have a Blizzard and a Peanut Buster Parfait respectively.  I on the other hand always chose the Slush Puppie like drink affectionately known as a Mr. Misty (usually in flavours like cherry, raspberry, and grape).  It was a summer tradition for my family to go down at least once every two weeks to partake in some cool treats.

Back in those days, we didn't have cable television...just the basic 2-13 dial.  There may very well have been television commercials about Dairy Queen back in the day, but if there were I either didn't remember them, or they didn't air on any of the channels we got.  We just knew that Dairy Queen was the hot spot during the summer months, and whenever the opportunity came, we jumped on it.  Although, I suppose that every time I watched the cartoon 'Dennis The Menace' on television, it could have been some form of subliminal advertising, as Dennis and his friends would often be featured on the drink cups at Dairy Queen restaurants.

But those were the childhood days.

In adulthood, I only really go the Dairy Queen maybe once a year, and only if it's on a special occasion like a birthday treat, or if it's for one of those Miracle Treat Days that occur once a year.

And on Miracle Treat Days, you'd see ads much like this one, showing miracles happening in children's hospitals all across the country.  It's a touching gesture, and considering that I have done charity work for the Children's Miracle Network myself over the last three years, it's a charity that I fully support.

But for every thoughtful ad that Dairy Queen has released over the years, they have managed to come up with some real doozies that are silly, weird, creepy, sexist, and scary.

And for me to call some Dairy Queen ads scary when I am fully well aware that the Burger King mascot is so incredibly creepy that I want to throw kerosene on it and light him ablaze, you know that I mean business.

Going back to our water skiing, bubble blowing dude, I'd call his ads...silly.  A little on the weird side even.  But, I guess in some ways, the ads do get your attention.

In all honesty, I actually find some of the earlier ads to be somewhat all their weirdness.  Take this one for example.

Okay, maybe that one was a little bit too out there.  I liked it though.  Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the Flamethrower burger, as I tried one, and wasn't overly wowed by it.  Still, you have to admit that the ad campaign made you notice.

And sometimes you saw actors keep appearing in Dairy Queen commercials over and over again.  Case in point the guy in the white dress shirt in the Flamethrower ad.  The actor in this ad is one Brian Stepanek, and if you have kids or younger brothers who happen to watch the Disney channel, they could tell you that he was a cast member on 'The Suite Life Of Zack and Cody'.  But he also did at least a dozen ads for Dairy Queen restaurants throughout the 2000s.

You may have remembered the one where the company was promoting the Blizzard-mobile, or whatever the Blizzard van was.  It was to celebrate the Blizzard's 25th anniversary in 2010.  I guess the campaign was that wherever the Blizzard-mobile stopped, you needed to be ready for it, as it was giving away free mini-Blizzards.  I wouldn't know, as it never stopped in MY area, but this is what I heard.

Unfortunately for this guy and his family, the Blizzard-mobile happened to pass through while they were waiting outside a car wash for their car to get cleaned up.  So they decide to come up with the 'brilliant' plan to run through the car wash to climb into their car to chase after the Blizzard-mobile.

Yeah, that's smart.

It's a wonder none of them drowned, or got their noses rubbed off by those powerful machines, or choked on the suds and bubbles.  Then again, it would be considered bad for business if the company showed a person sacrificing their lives for a Golden Oreo Blizzard.

Hmmmm...maybe it's only in recent years that I'm thinking that Dairy Queen commercials have gone downhill.  I'm somehow reminded of a commercial that aired on television here a couple of years back...something about a guy who is bringing home a Blizzard cake for his kid's birthday.

Okay, let's dissect this commercial.  At the tail end of this commercial, we hear random announcer dude say that if you bring home a Blizzard cake, they'll love you for it.

Really?  Because I don't seem to feel the love.

I mean, I feel bad for our poor sap of a dude here.  He gets his car towed, he has to walk home, gets confronted by thugs, runs for his life, tears up and muddies his expensive suit, gets bitten by dogs (in the extended version, he gets arrested), gets caught in the rain, and looking like a derelict who has slept in an alleyway for four days comes back with the cake.  But does he even get a cup of hot tea?  A change of dry clothes?  A thank you from his loving family?

Nope.  She basically gives off the attitude that it took him long enough to get there, and the kids don't seem to be at all concerned about anything except getting that cake.  Oh, and the man may have rabies!  RABIES!  People can die from rabies!  But, long as those greedy people have ice cream and chocolate to gorge themselves on, who cares whether our hero lives or dies?

If I were that man, I'd be looking for a divorce attorney while getting those life-saving rabies vaccines.

I suppose at first glance, the ad does seem like it could be funny on the surface.  And I'm sure that most of us can relate to having a day where everything that could possibly go wrong has (though certainly not to the extent of that guy).  But, at the same time, I don't really enjoy the fact that after all that, he comes home ready to collapse in pain and exhaustion and have nobody seem to care one iota for him.  At the very least, they could have offered him some cake, though after what he went through to get it, I'm not sure he'd even want to go near another Dairy Queen again.

One last disturbing point about this commercial.  How long did it take this guy to get home?  It was bright out when he left the restaurant, and pitch black by the time his ordeal ended.  Considering that a Blizzard cake is approximately 90% ice cream, are you not the least bit disturbed that during that whole time, the cake NEVER MELTED?  Maybe those DQ preservatives are a lot more potent than we think.

As if that ad wasn't disturbing enough, this one just screams borderline creepy, at least in my opinion.

Okay.  One positive thing I will say about this ad is that the Waffle Bowl sundae looks FRIGGIN' DELICIOUS!  The brownies.  The hot fudge.  The ice cream.  Hell, I'm tempted to go to DQ right now just to get one...well, if DQ still makes them that is.

Unfortunately, that's about the only positive thing that I will say about this commercial, so let's just dive into this train wreck of an ad, shall we?

Honestly at first the ad seems a little sweet...even sweeter than the delicious hot fudge and gooey toppings that drown those rich, flaky brownies...

...yeah, okay, I'll shut up now.

It's a nice gesture, or so it seems.  The mom is wanting to get a treat for her and her daughter, and she settles on ordering them both those...ahem...sundaes which shall not be named.

But wait!  The daughter only wants her to buy one!  The mother is confused, but she seems to be happy.  Maybe sharing a sundae will bond the mother and daughter even closer.  Maybe the daughter has heard that money is tight, and that by only having one sundae, then the mother will have more money to spend on...something else, whatever it is. 

What the mother doesn't seem to notice is the daughter making google-eyes at the boy.  It almost seemed like she was...flirting with him.  But, that's crazy talk right?  Eleven year olds don't know how to flirt.  When I was eleven, I don't even think I knew what flirting was!

So we rejoin our mother, pleased at her daughter's sudden belief in sharing and caring and making sure that everyone is happy no matter what.  Well, sorry to burst her kitten-filled bubble, but the real cat's meow is that our princess at the 'Queen' simply doesn't like to share.  She had absolutely no intention of sharing any sort of delicious Dairy Queen treat with her mother, her father, her siblings, the guy running outside in the business suit chasing some tow truck, the president of the United States, or anyone else.  She wanted her sundae all to herself.  But she couldn't just take her mom's sundae.  Nor did her mother order an extra one.  So, what could she do?  Look in the booth for loose change?  Knock out all her teeth in hopes that the tooth fairy would loan her enough for a sundae?

Cue random teenaged Dairy Queen slave worker, armed with an identical sundae, similar to the one her mom was eating.  It was a gift.  Compliments of the man in the donkey shirt.

Okay, seriously...donkey shirt?  Maybe he meant Donkey KONG shirt?  Yeah...maybe that's it.

The girl coyly smiles at the boy, and then smiles a rather evil smile and says 'It's like shooting fish in a barrel'.

Okay, are you kidding me here?

SHE'S ELEVEN!  How many eleven year olds do you know do this?  I know I don't know too many.  Hell, when I was eleven, I still thought girls had cooties.

If these were college students or adults, the humour would translate a bit better (though, in my opinion it still wouldn't make it right).  Or if that girl didn't say the shooting fish in a barrel line at the end, it might've ended up being a really cute commercial.  Instead, it brings forth a rather superficial message of entitlement just because one looks pretty or flutters their eyelashes as some male who would empty out his bank account in an attempt to impress her.  It's bad enough using adults to bring forth a message like that, but using children to promote that message is kind of classless and tacky.

Of course that could merely be my opinion, and I may very well be blowing it out of proportion, and some of you may actually find these ads funny.  What do you all think?

Hmmm...maybe after reviewing those last couple of ads...maybe bubble-blowing man isn't so bad after all.

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