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Over-Stimulated: A Word on Recession-Based Advertising

3conomics

You know what the worst thing about this whole economic downturn is?  Please, don’t say the lost jobs, foreclosed homes, bankrupt businesses, broken lives, or shattered dreams.  Those are all peripheral annoyances at best.  The single most unbearable, most depressing, most honest-to-God soul-destroying aspect of our receding GDP is the glut of recession based advertising filling the airwaves.  I can tolerate the mounting debt and fading hope; I cannot handle one more recession pun.

Ever since Michael Bay and the creators of Napster destroyed our economy (look it up), the marketing geniuses at our most beloved and beleaguered corporations have been racking their brains and watching Letterman monologues to come up with the most pee-your-pants hysterical economic puns imaginable.   It’s like they all got the same homework assignment: Use the most talked about event of this century to create a unique, creative and hilarious commercial that will both persuade and comfort the American public.

The result?  Every single commercial contains the phrase “Now, more than ever…” or “With this economy…” or “Hey!  Poor people!  Can I sell you something while wittily making light of your situation?”  Don’t get me wrong, I’m in full support of jokes at the expense of the poor and unemployed, I’ve just grown weary of the nightly lessons in “3conomics” from Wendy’s.  I’m tired of car companies tempting me with their “recession proof deals.”  I’m tired of McDonald’s giving me an “appetite stimulus package” when all I wanted was a Big Mac.  I go there to suppress my appetite, not stimulate it, you morons.

It’s getting difficult for me to even watch television anymore.  These commercials bother me more than people who say “okie dokie.”  They anger me more than the inexplicable success of Lauren Conrad.  They annoy me more than constantly having to spell out the swear words in my text messages because the predictive text function still doesn’t recognize them as words.

There may have been a funny recession joke once.  It was probably back around October of 2007 when some late night comedian drew some kind of parallel between the newly relevant “sub-prime mortgages” and the campaign of Dennis Kucinich, or the death of Anna Nicole Smith, or Michael Vick’s basement, or something hilariously tasteless like that.  This was followed by a short-lived “Golden Age of Recession Based Humor.”  Over the course of six or seven weeks, the mounting economic woes were parodied using every pun, wordplay, turn of phrase, top 10 list, and knock knock joke in the English language.  The last funny economic pun was made around the time your parents were discovering Facebook (i.e. early 2008).

Unfortunately, the recession continued long after the funny recession jokes died.  For the past eighteen months comedians have continued to squeeze jokes out of words like “bailout,” “stimulus package,” “foreclose,” “meltdown,” “hedge funds,” and “suicidal depression” and each time they do we’re expected to fall over and poop our pants laughing like an eight year old seeing “Kung Fu Panda” for the first time.  In reality, it’s like  watching “Ice Age 2” for the fifteenth time.  It was never that funny, and now we’re just pissed off that we’re still watching it.

These jokes are lazy, tired, over-done, and entirely unfunny.  It’s similar to the way comedians are still clinging to their George Bush and Sarah Palin jabs.  Sure, they were fun while they lasted, but that game ended a long time ago.  Why are we still standing on the field?  Can’t we pretend like we’re in middle school and go make fun of the new kid with big ears?  It makes me pine for the good ole’ days of  President Clinton (aka “The Slayer of Jewish Virginity”).  At least then all the regurgitated, uninspired jokes were inappropriate and sexual.  Now they just suck.

I’m calling for a return to creativity in our comedy and commercials.  To all aspiring, active, or retiring comedians and ad execs: jokes playing off the Economy are not funny.  Not because it is too serious a matter for jesting, but because the terms “funny” and “recession joke” are mutually exclusive.  Move on.  Get over it.  Talk about something else.  Make us laugh again.  Goodness knows, with this economy, we need laughter now more than ever.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go.  I think Dominoes is at the door with my “Super Big Taste Bailout” (aka medium pizza).

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