Because I have no particular expertise in advertising, my views on the matter stem entirely from my experience as an advertisee, i.e. one to whom products and services are advertised. I don’t know to what extent advertising affects my behavior as a consumer, but if I had to guess I’d say it doesn’t have too much of an impact.  I guess it’s possible that advertising’s influence on me is so subtle that I remain oblivious to the fact that it is compelling me to buy things I neither want nor need. But I doubt it.


There are, however, two important exceptions to advertising’s inability to shape my behavior.  The first is the J. Crew catalog.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually buy things from the J. Crew catalog in an attempt to make my world become more like the world depicted in the catalog.  “You know what?  I bet buying that sweater would make me feel a little more like I’m a dishevelledly handsome guy in a tweed sport coat writing a novel on a vintage typewriter in a cabin in Maine during the winter.”  It really is that easy for them, and whenever it works I feel embarrassed that J. Crew is able to sell clothes to me in the exact same way that Disney sells a Hannah Montana sleeping bag to an 11 year-old girl.

“Oh, me?  I was just going to chop some wood.  Which is why I’m wearing a pocket square in my blazer. Would you like my life?  Of course you would.  You know the first step to getting it?  Buying these jeans I’m wearing.”

The second exception is when a brand’s advertising annoys me to the point that I commit myself never to purchase that brand ever again. In other words, I doubt Madison Avenue can intentionally convince me to buy something, but I know they can unintentionally convince me not to buy something. For an example, see here. I have more than a few advertising pet peeves, but none of them irks me as much as one in particular, which comes in various guises, but always causes me to think the exact same thing: “Now you’re just insulting my intelligence.”

Look, I’m a big boy. I know that people who work in advertising are trying to sell us products that they don’t necessarily use themselves, and in doing so they’re saying things they don’t necessarily believe. Fine. My issue is when they make a pitch so ridiculous and extreme that not only do they not believe it, it’s clear that they couldn’t possibly expect us to believe it, either. I’ve seen this type of advertising used for a variety of products and services, but the example I’m about to give takes the cake for brazen effrontery (and although it’s not an example of advertising, exactly, it provides a perfect example of the approach I’m talking about).

Our friends Slade and Andrea brought the game Jenga over to our house the other night. This was not, however, just any Jenga set. This was “Jenga Onyx Edition.” So there’s the first problem: Jenga has different editions. I’ve compiled a list of things that I believe should and should not have different editions:


Faberge eggs
Robots that make your bed and can pour chocolate milk out of their fingers



“We’re thrilled to introduce the new Platinum edition of eggs!”

Here is how the text on the box describes the Onyx Edition: “Edge-Of-Your-Seat Fun In Elegant Style!” Okay, it actually does offer “Edge-Of-Your-Seat Fun.” So fair enough on that one. But “elegant style?” And it gets worse. “The classic game gets a modern makeover with this JENGA Onyx Edition. Don’t just make a stack, make a statement with features like black and silver-accented blocks, a sleek stacking frame, and a unique pedestal.”

Make a statement. With your Jenga Onyx Edition. Make a statement with your $30 wooden block stacking game. And what statement, exactly, does the Onyx Edition of Jenga make? “I used to own the regular version of Jenga, but last year I got a huge promotion, putting my income well above $3 million a year. I also left my wife of 23 years for a 19 year-old supermodel from Croatia. I lost 35 lbs by doing Yogalates, and I now only wear black mock turtlenecks. I live in a $6 million dollar loft in Tribeca that has no furniture, with the sole exception of a small, black table which I use to snort cocaine and play my Onyx Edition of Jenga.”

“Yes, you would have the regular edition of Jenga, wouldn’t you?”

This description ends with the following line: “It’s JENGA for your contemporary lifestyle!” Sheesh. “I had the old Jenga, but it was just so jarringly out-of-sync with my contemporary lifestyle. How? Well, a lot of reasons you wouldn’t really get, with the main one being the total absence of a unique pedestal.”

This entry was posted in Advertising, Badvertising, Carrot Top, J. Crew, Jenga. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Badvertising

  1. Ryan says:

    I KNEW you were always trying to buy the J.Crew lifestyle. Mostly the one from the boat-ier catalogues.

  2. Nate says:

    You know when it’s too early in the morning and laughing really hard actually really hurts because you aren’t awake enough to laugh that hard.

    I nearly died this morning.

    “Well, a lot of reasons you wouldn’t really get, with the main one being the total absence of a unique pedestal.”

    Thank you DDDT. I love this stuff.

  3. Nici says:


  4. Eliza says:

    Dang it, we just bought the regular old fashioned jenga, for christmas. if I had only known we could have had one that would fit with our contemporary lifestyle and that we could play in elegance I totally would have bought the onyx one.

    Dang funny post, loved the J.Crew stuff, no matter how many third world countries you go to and help in, you just can’t get away from the country club lust. ; ) I love it.

  5. lenox says:

    This is just too classy for Davis. You’ll never understand. That’s why you’ll never be hip enough to put a dry sauna in your bathroom…good stuff.

  6. Andrea W. says:

    This whole thing just kills me. So funny! I would love to see if this “onyx” edition has really boosted sales for Jenga. I mean seriously, CRAZY stuff. I’ve never even seen that edition, it must just be sold in really exclusive places like New York. New York has it all – fashion week, great restuarants, onyx edition of Jenga. Sigh.

  7. Christian says:

    I’ve seen much less pass off as modern art worth thousands of dollars, so I don’t know; maybe they’re on to something.

  8. Troy says:

    LOL, Davis. Can I add another product to the list of Badvertising? Maybe this one is too obvious, but I’m going to take a stab at it anyways: Snuggie!

    Let’s assume for a moment that our living room really is a frozen tundra and that any flesh exposed while reaching for the remote control or the phone really will be consumed with frostbite. How do they explain the gaping sleeves in these things? Isn’t the freezing air going to gush into that huge opening and put you into hypothermic shock? And how are those gigantic sleeve holes any different than sneaking an arm out of the top of a regular blanket for 4 seconds to change the channel from Matlock to Murder She Wrote?

    But the part that really gets me in the Snuggie commercials is the scene where the family is sitting on the bleachers all decked out in their Snuggies. I’ve sat through my share of cold games…know what I wear that keeps me warm and gives my arms the freedom to move around unabated? A coat. And I don’t look like Princess Leah. Or crazy.

    I’m sorry if I’ve offended any sucker out there who actually loves their Snuggie or is thinking about getting one. Here’s some steps you can follow that will save you the $24.95 plus shipping and handling:

    A) Find your bathrobe
    B) Put it on backwards

  9. Slade says:

    Believe it or not, I got a Snuggie from Ron, and the Onyx Jenga set from Davis. They go great together with hot chocolate on Sunday evenings.

    Just livin the dream…

  10. Anonymous says:

    There is a point where the bad advertising is SO bad that it becomes awesome. Snuggie is one of them. The Clapper is another. And don’t forget, the inestimable, the amazing, the one and only glossy head terra cotta planter in 24 different types, the Chia Pet. The only thing that could make the Chia Pet any classier is if it came in an Onyx Edition.

  11. Davis says:

    Ryan, I find the Christmas catalogs to be slightly more appealing, lifestyle-wise, than the boat-themed ones.

    Nate, I hope you were laughing hard enough to launch into the foghorn.

    Nici, thank you, although I would have been more flattered had you written “Contemporary!” instead.

    Eliza, you have the old one? Eww.

    Lenox, you are one of the few people I know who are contemporary enough to own the Onxy edition, what with your sauna and swingers-style home.

    Ang, yeah, I wouldn’t look for the Onyx edition to be appearing at the Centerville Target any time soon. And rightfully so.

    Troy, I’ve been chuckling about the bathrobe/snuggie trick all day.

    Slade, Christmas was good to you this year, wasn’t it?

    Kook, that’s not a bad point.

    Anonymous, I’m going to steal your idea for an Onyx Chia Pet. And since you’re anonymous, I think I’m in the clear, legally.

  12. “like”

    sorry, i hardly know how to behave on any site other than facebook anymore.

    It’s really the product (not just the advertising) that is pretty pointless– and i’m not talking about Jenga itself, just the souped up version of Jenga. kinda like how they’re sellling million dollar condos in downtown salt lake and advertising it as the urban living experience. i mean, salt lake– urban? who do they take us for?

    funny post. good job.

  13. Greg says:

    Really clever. Love the title “Badvertising.” You’re gifted!

  14. StefStar says:

    In defense of the Snuggie, I provide the following fun facts:
    1) Snuggies provide much more static electricity than do bathrobes
    2) Sometimes I put it on upside down and then it’s like giant awkward pants.
    3) I once wore it while watching a play in an amphitheater. Call it coincidence, but that was the best play I’ve ever seen. People were envious.

    I will say, though, that the part in the commercials where they woman is warm inside her Snuggie but is holding an uncovered baby in her lap is shameful. Good thing they’re selling Snuggies for pets and kids now.

  15. Kaitlyn says:

    I’m pretty sure I totally lack to ability to come up with some whitty comment about this post that would make you laugh as hard as I did while I was reading it, so I’m not going to try. I’m just going to say kudos. kudos on bringing joy to my day with this freakin funny post!

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