I’ve been noticing more running ads than normal. It could be for any number of reasons. Possibly because of running’s increasing popularity…and thus marketability and profitability. Maybe I’ve just been watching TV more than usual…and the more TV I watch, the more commercials I’ll be subjected to, and the greater the chances of occasionally seeing one directed at runners. Or it could be related to the fact that most of the “more TV” I’ve been watching has been March Madness related (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!!) and thus on a “sports” channel. That’s a happy thought, because it means that someone out there in TV land considers running a sport! Yes!
There’s the Nike Sparq Training commercial. Granted, this is more about training for “sports with accessories” (soccer, baseball, football, basketball…jumping frog?) than about actual running, but it SHOWS people running so it counts. Right? It wins the “hip and cool” award of all the most recent ads, which is typical Nike. I feel cooler just watching it! It also wins the “crazy background noise that makes people think there might be something wrong with their TV” award. I’m not sure that’s the most coveted of these impromptu Megan’s Adpinion Awards, but there you have it. The first time I saw that commercial we happened to have the surround sound on and I thought my ears were going to explode. (Sidenote: It totally reminds me of the “most annoying sound in the world” from Dumb and Dumber.) (Other Sidenote, added May 21: I’ve been getting some search hits about the song, which is called “List of Demands” by Saul Williams. Hope that helps!) Now that I’ve become accustomed to the sound, I spend most of the commercial trying to figure out why the jumping frog is in there. Is there a deeper meaning to it, or is it just because the green and black match the Sparq colors? It just seems incongruous with the rest of the video, which includes an image of at least one human athlete in every frame. And…this is how I spend my weekends. Analyzing commercials. I just lost any “cool” points that watching the Sparq ad may have given me. Drat!
There’s the New Balance LOVE/hate commercials, which I’m sure will be critically acclaimed (if commercials actually receive critical acclaim) but I really don’t care for. They get some credit for trying, but it seems like they’re trying too hard. Everything’s just overly dramatized. I don’t like the surreal background, I don’t like the choices of red and black for the predominant colors. The voiceover seems cheesy and inauthentic (to my running experience, at least), and the entire idea seems reminiscent of the faux Nike ad from What Women Want. You know, the “no games, just sports” one. We’ve got the voiceover, the lone runner, the supposedly original dialogue about an inanimate object. In the movie, it’s the relationship between runner and road. In the New Balance commercial, it’s the relationship between runner and running. This is all totally my opinion, and I admit to being more than partially biased because my only experience with New Balance shoes led to a particularly wicked Achille’s injury. So, as far as the Megan’s Adpinion Awards go, New Balance gets the “nice try” pat on the back and “best adaptation from a movie” award.
I’ve talked about the Lance Armstrong commercials for Dick’s Sporting Goods before. Quick summary: I like ’em. They’re funny. 😀 And…it wins the “best use of the word ‘cardio’ for comedic effect” award.
There’s also the Nike Plus commercials, and anyone who’s read the I Heart Nike+ post can guess my opinion on these. They’re mostly pretty well done, and my favorite is the OK Go one because, well, I also heart OK Go. And not just the treadmill song, neither. They have some great music! Nike+ earns itself another award, this one for “best soundtrack.”
Those are my current adpinions. The all-time winner for running ads, hands down, are the Adidas print ads that ran in Runner’s World several years ago. They captured real running perfectly with their “Runners. Yeah, we’re different” series. My favorite is the one where the runner clears his sinuses without benefit of, um, a handkerchief (I was trying not to offend the sensibilities of any non-runners, but I feel like I should add that the practice is descriptively called a “snot rocket”) and the look of disgust on the face of a nearby pedestrian. Runners ARE different! Nice work, Adidas.