Saturday, August 1, 2009

Demographic Fail

Originally Posted 3-4-09

Normally I like to look at old commercials, but Gatorade recently unleashed an ad campaign that doesn't make too much sense. From what I understand, little snippets of this are currently airing on networks and channels I don't seem to watch. Here is the entire thing:

Oh, I probably should have warned you, it's nine minutes long and it's actually not very good. I have read accounts that it's "hilarious," but it's actually not. It's a spoof on Monty Python and the Holy Grail done by Gatorade.

Let me repeat that.

Gatorade has taken today's biggest sports stars and put them in a spoof of a movie seen by every English-speaking nerd for the past 35 years. The very idea leaves me speechless. I can only express my thoughts in the form of a Venn Diagram.

The fact that I need the help of a Venn Diagram to get my idea across is a pretty good sign that I reside comfortably in the red circle. To be honest, I can skirt by and say I'm in the minuscule overlapping area, but we'll get to that later.

Seemingly blatant miscalculation of demographics aside, as spoofs go, it's not actually not that good. I guess anyone familiar with the movie can recognize what they're trying to do. I operate under the impression that a spoof is supposed to be funny. Isn't it the definition of a spoof? What do you call a spoof that is actually less funny than the original?

Maybe Gatorade set the bar too high when they decided to spoof an already hilarious movie. I don't know. What I do know is that if you break it down, it's actually a pretty stupid concept.

I'll walk you through it.

It begins with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing Tim the Enchanter. Instead of being able to point his finger to cause explosions, like John Cleese's Tim, he shoots basketballs into nets that cause explosions.


Also, there's a talking goat. I can't figure out why there's a talking goat. There's no goat in the original that I remember. The only thing I can come up with is that Kareem can't/won't do the Tim the Enchanter voice, so naturally, they decide to add in a talking goat to do the voice instead.

Why not let Kareem speak himself not in a Tim the Enchanter voice, and assume that the get-up and the ability to cause explosions would be enough to reference the original? After all, this is a Monty Python reference in a Gatorade commercial. Most people wouldn't know the difference.

So, the object here is that King Garnett and his knights are on the quest for G. They never really explain why or what G is, but if you don't get that G is Gatorade from the lightning from the logo, then you've probably spent too much of you teenage years quoting Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Then we get to meet the entire crew using the same book format as in the movie.

We have Kevin Garnett. Truth be told, I only know that he plays for the Boston Celtics because people who sit just meters away from me in my office talk about sports all day. At this point, I've heard his name in conjunction with the Celtics enough to be able to put the two together. Also, his costume in this commercial features clovers.

There's Derek Jeter, who I know because I follow baseball and because I grew up in New York. I like the other team, but I know him enough to recognize him when I see a picture of him with his last name. The bat helps too.

Let's not forget Sir Jimmie. I don't know who this guy is. Based on the fact that his armor has a checkered pattern and the way his visor flips down, I'm going to guess that he's a racer. Unlike almost everyone else in the group, he doesn't use any talents from his respective sport, so it's kind of hard to tell what he does in real life. My money's on race car driver, but don't ask me what format or what his last name is. I could look it up, but I feel like I've already devoted more than enough time to this.

I know Usain Bolt because he is the biggest non-Michael Phelps name to emerge from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He is joined by his ego.

Misty May-Trainor and Kerri Walsh I recognize because of my huge crush on Kerri Walsh that lasted until I found out that shortly after winning the gold in Beijing for beach volleyball, she and her partner yelled, "We love you, Mr. President."

Alicia—someone else I've never heard of—plays the part of Patsy, the one who bangs coconut halves together to make the horse sounds. I'm assuming she's a gymnast, given how short she is and because she does several flips throughout the story. I wonder why all of the women, along with Jimmie, are known by only their first names.

Let's not worry about that. So this group is off to find 'G.' Apparently, that's all that was needed in the 8th Century: a sports drink.

Their next encounter is with the French knights. They taunt our protagonists like in the original.

But this time around, they throw their laundry at them.

Yeah, laundry.

They're eventually defeated with Misty and Kerri hit pumpkins at them using their volleyball abilities.

They also do a take off of the black knight scene. Apparently, they only spoofed the stuff that John Cleese did in the movie. I guess Michael Palin's bit where he argues with King Arthur about "how supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses" is a smidgen too nerdy for a Gatorade commercial—even this one.

I suppose, also, the casting budget wasn't big enough to hire another group of actors almost completely unknown to Monty Python fans to serve as a takeoff of Sir Robin's minstrels.

Anyway, instead of the black knight hilariously getting his limbs sliced off one by one, this version has a dance-off. I am to understand that this dancing troupe, like all great talents, were discovered on a reality television show.

Don't ask why nearly everybody's face is blocked in the shot where they dance. It's not like they're obvious doubles.

I have to admit, I like Bolt's double's dance.

Even though the troupe's dance is choreographed as a group, and the knights' dance is a mishmash of people doing their own thing, the troupe concedes. No questions asked.

To celebrate winning after doing a little dance, they all take a swig of 'G,' which I was to understand was the object that they were originally looking for. It seems they all have it already. I'm really confused about the conflict and the purpose of the journey. Maybe Gatorade is actually an addictive substance, and they don't have enough?

Finally, they make it to Game 7, which is the keeper of G. Here's where the story gets interesting, and by "gets interesting," I mean "continues to be kind of stupid."

Game 7 turns out to be a poodle, so Alicia decides she'll take care of it. However, the poodle unexpectedly lunges straight for her neck, beheading her instantly. Wait, no, that would be hilarious original. Instead it breathes fire...which I suppose is funnyish, because you don't expect a poodle to breathe fire.

Sir Jimmie comes to the rescue to get Alicia. Of course the poodle is fierce, so Sir Jeter hits balls near it to distract it for seconds at a time. Why not just throw the balls at the poodle. They are trying to kill it to get into the cave, right?

Then the goat appears with some advice, which I guess makes Kevin Garnett take matters into his own hands. Some flames kick back from his shield, roasting the dog, allowing Kevin to throw the dog into the dog bowl.

Good thing he got to use his basketball skills. Why else would he be elected king?

Then, Game 7 takes another form, and we learn that The G is already in all of us.

One last celebratory swig, except for Alicia for some reason, and Gatorade has successfully taken nine minutes away from your life.

So, the previous point of them doing a bad spoof of something they shouldn't be spoofing in order to capture their client base, I'm also curious about the final message.

"G is not a place, G is inside of all of you."

So, the thing they've been trying to sell? Don't bother buying it. It's "inside of all of you." Great message. "You don't need this product, you already have it."

I was speaking a few people about these commercials, and how stupid I thought they were. Someone made the point that it got me talking about the product, and that's part of the point.

To a point, yes. I could talk about it all I want. I'm still not buying it.

Honestly, I lost interest in Gatorade once they started selling Propel Fit Water. Here's a company who spent decades trying to convince everyone that they should drink their product instead of water. Then, they started selling water.

Actually, I stopped buying Gatorade when I realized I didn't play sports.

1 comment:

Shar said...

i love lemon propel. i don't know why, but i do. :)