Most commercials are completely forgettable. A rare few are amusing enough to actually engender love for the products they're advertising. But some commercials are so damn irritating that they inspire hatred-- Hatred for the product, the company that makes it, the people involved with the commercial itself and maybe even the show the commercial is interrupting. Quaker Oatmeal's latest ad, the tactical thermonuclear smug-bomb featured above, is just such a hate-inducing shill. The more I see this 34-second spot the more I despise everything about it. Here are the Top 5 reasons the "heart health" oatmeal commercial is terrible.
1. The star, nutritionist Bob Harper, comes off as a self-satisfied douche. Look, I'm sure that Mr. Harper is a perfectly decent fellow in real life. He probably got paid a lot of money to read that subtly condescending script and listen to a soulless commercial director tell him to put more smarm into his delivery. There are few people in this world who would truly skip a huge check for one day of makeup and repetition. The funny thing is, when he's not being paid to be a fitness whatever on TV (either in this commercial or on The Biggest Loser), Bob is basically a stand-in for everybody's pleasant, effeminate, gay neighbor rather than the healthier-than-thou jerk selling us freaking oatmeal.
2. His ridiculously dreamy, blue eyes.
Seriously, did somebody do some computer touch-ups to make Harper look like an extra from Dune? Is Quaker really trying to suggest that its mass-produced oatmeal will not only make a person healthier, but also develop the kinds of striking, ethereal attributes of an Anne Rice vampire?
3. The up-with-people, almost religious tone. Personally, I like honesty in commercials. That, or clear outlandishness. It doesn't bother me when, say, a soft drink commercial suggests that the product is refreshing on a hot day or depicts some lucky fellow getting doused with cold water in the sweltering heat just by opening a can of soda. What I can't stand is when a commercial tries to convince people that its product is some kind of divine gift to the world. Harper says, "It's never too late to start" eating Quaker Oatmeal like an evangelist telling people it's never too late to let Christ into their hearts. Damn it, it's oatmeal, the most boring breakfast food in history, not the difference between 100 years of life and a coronary at age 35.
4. Mixed messages. At the exact same time that Bob derisively states that Quaker Oatmeal is the only cereal he eats, we get some food porn of a bowl of the oatmeal, except that it's very clearly augmented with loads of other stuff. There's cinnamon, there are almonds and berries of many varieties. Shit, if you ate all the things they put in there without the oatmeal it'd probably be healthier. It's easy to get high-and-mighty about the nutritional value of Quaker Oatmeal over other breakfast foods when you cheat by loading the stuff up with fresh produce. Even Count freaking Chocula would be a balanced breakfast with a banana and some protein powder mixed in.
5. The final line. I know that coming up with a punchy tagline is a big deal in marketing, but "Are you eating Quaker for breakfast?" when combined with a smug-a-thon from a blue-eyed personal trainer is just insulting. The line might as well be, "Are you eating Quaker Oatmeal? Because if you're not then you're obviously some pathetic fat-ass who chokes down doughnuts like they could cure your crippling loneliness." It's a big middle finger at the end of a completely self-righteous, condescending ad. To hell with Quaker and their jerk commercial. To spite this annoying crap, I'm getting up every morning with a triple espresso and a cigarette.