Commercials - their task is to compel us to buy more stuff, not necessarily to entertain us, and definitely not to repel us away with our arms flailing above us. But that's precisely what two such ads have done to me in recent weeks. And it's not even that the commercials themselves repulse or offend me. They're just ... odd. A bit too odd for my taste.
The first such commercial is the one for Van de Kamp's frozen fish products. They depict a natural setting - a playground, a racquetball court - where something is just off. That being the presence of a fish, quite obviously out of water and apparently trying to mouth some words - maybe "Take me to your leader" or, quite possible, "Put me back in the water." The people in the commercial are seen to back away in some form of stilted panic. A clearly despondent man can be see on the racquetball court, his head planted deeply into his hands. In the spot on the playground, a young girl reaches inquisitively for the fish, only to be grabbed by her freaked-out mom.
The tagline for these ads is "Uncomfortable around fish" - i.e., for those who can't deal with preparing fresh fish for your family, come buy our frozen, already-prepared fish dishes such as fish sticks, fried fillets, etc. Obviously the set-up is supposed to be some form of irony (like rain on your wedding day, perhaps). But to me, the scenario is more logical than humorous. If I were walking down the lane and suddenly came across a 3-foot swordfish standing on its back fins and trying to speak to me, I would quite properly think that the End was near and would run away in a fevered panic. And it would not make me hungry for fish sticks.
The other disturbing commercial is, on the surface, even more benign - a seasonal marketing approach by Jell-O to turn its ever-popular gelatin products into "jiggler eggs" for Easter. Thus, three little girls in bunny costumes parade around the room holding big, wiggling, glistening eggs made of Bill Cosby's favorite dessert. Innocent, friendly fun, right? Maybe for you. But in my eyes, eggs should not jiggle. I look at those fruity objects in those kids' hands and all I can see in my mind is that scene in "Alien" involving John Hurt and a meal that did not agree with him. A totally illogical concept to connect Easter joy and sci-fi horror, sure - but then again, we live in a world where fish walk the streets. And where the Red Sox win the World Series.