Wednesday, December 4, 2002


I've got "This is the Song That Never Ends" stuck in my head, and it's been there for about two days now. This could be because I watch too much television.

It's that Motrin ad. Do you know it? A mother on a freeway (in what seems to be a sensible Volvo) with her children, who are singing "This is the Song That Never Ends" in the back seat. She looks back and realizes that they've gotten into a bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans, or coffee beans or what-have-you. I forget what the tagline is, but it's something like "Life Demands Lysol".

A couple of years ago I saw a documentary on advertising in the 1960s, and the ad that got me the most was this one: a woman in an apron, holding a vacuum, and flying through the air with an euphoric smile on her face, with the words "MILTOWN: IT MAKES THE HOUSEWORK JUST FLY BY". And it occurs to me today: some things never change.

I mean, what is this Motrin ad really suggesting? A good friend once suggested to me, probably rightly, that headaches are caused principally by dehydration, so what I see is a company telling mothers that they need to IMPAIR themselves to get through their days. I mean, the woman was driving, for Christ's sake.

Now, I know that this kind of talk is unpopular, but I've got a significant beef with the way women are used in advertising in what's supposed to be an enlightened age. The only time I've ever seen a man in an advertisement for a cleaning product is the one for Swiffer, whose pitch is that "it's so easy, even HE'LL do it now", and the Lean Cuisine and Hamburger Helper ads for dinners that put themselves in frying pans, cook themselves, put themselves on plates, and then clean up afterwards.

The obvious rejoinder to this is that the ads are mocking men, that they're too stupid to do housework, but I don't buy it. After a long day at the office, what should we expect men to do?

That's all I'll say for now. I'm going to go back to listening to "Sweetness" by Jimmy Eat World to get "This is the Song That Never Ends" out of my head.

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