I consider myself a very cynical person about advertising. I know it’s crucial for product promotion, keeping the economy going, and all that. But it often seems like people are trying to trick you into doing something. And sometimes, they truly are. Or the advertiser assumes that you’re an idiot. And sadly, there may be enough idiots out there who actually will buy the product, perpetuating the ad stupidity cycle. And possibly worst of all, a lot of it seems like pure lies, plain and simple. The old-school, foot in the door, say anything, keep the relentless pressure going even if the subject/victim is clearly indicating that they’re not interested – this approach is incredibly annoying, but still widely practiced.
Fortunately, it seems that a lot of ad execs now understand how cynical people are, and have adapted. I’m finding that more and more ads are actually fun to watch, and I never thought I’d say that. Wit, creativity, and charm seem to be coming back into style. How quaint! Verizon had an ad where two young kids were very slowly and patiently telling their parents how to use a cell phone. The parents had the innocent, nervous look of children on their way to the first day of school. The reversal of roles and the spot-on acting made it absolutely hilarious.
My favorite, though, is the on-going series of Progressive Insurance ads, starring the enthusiastic Flo, played by Stephanie Courtney. She’s relentlessly positive, very cute, and her voice is lively, just as you’d expect in an ad. The scripting is pretty good, with dashes of dry humor. But there’s something else about her. She is amazingly likable. Totally adorable. I genuinely want to see her. If she’s coming on, there’s no way that I’ll hit the mute button or leave the room for some snacks.
What is it, exactly? Though she’s very enthusiastic and bubbly, she manages to stop just short of irritating, a very fine line. She’s definitely pretty, but has a whole lot of makeup on in the ads. It wasn’t until trying to find out who she was that I discovered regular photos of her, and she’s quite beautiful. I also found out that she’s a long-standing member of a comedy troupe, so it’s no wonder that she’s funny, even when she’s not making a joke, and her timing is perfect. The ads are appealingly written. But it’s definitely her – she has the X-factor. Others have trouble explaining it, too – it’s just there, and she’s luminous.
I’ve heard that she has roles on various shows, but I have yet to see any of them. But I look forward to seeing anything she’s in. Stephanie, count me in as one of the many people with a crush on you!