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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This Generation's Mr. Whipple.

Anybody here not old enough to remember Mr. Whipple?
In this case, I envy you your youth.

Mr. Whipple was the guy who ran the supermarket in the 1960's TV commercials where this really annoying woman, to us, and to him, would squeeze the Charmin toilet paper.
Mr. Whipple would admonish her and say "Please don't squeeze the Charmin!"
The woman was actually far more annoying than Mr. Whipple.
These commercials sold more toilet paper than you would at a Diarrhea Convention.
One of the most successful ad campaigns in history.
And easily the most annoying.
It blatantly tried to be funny, and, as the kids say today, was so not.

"Please don't squeeze the Charmin" became a national catchphrase.
It was a turning point of sorts, where advertisers first realized that the more stupid the commercial, the more successful it would be.
Because it appealed to the lowest common denominator.
Never was there a better example of it's mesmerizing powers than when my mother came home from the supermarket with the cart she wheeled, and sitting on top of it were two eight-packs of Charmin.
Now, you've got to understand, my mother virtually never bought ANYTHING if it wasn't on sale. It's part of our heritage.
And the conversation between me and she went as follows:

Me: Ma, Charmin?

She: Uh huh.

Me: It was on sale, right?

She: No.

Me: No?

She: No.

Me: Was any other toilet paper on sale?

She: I think so.

Me: You THINK so?

She: Uh huh.

Me: Ma, why did you buy this?!

She: (Imitating the commercial perfectly) "Please don't squeeze the Charmin".

I thought, "God, imagine the effect this is having on Gentiles!"

We have a new Mr. Whipple in our midst.
Even though there seems to be far more than the seven channels I had when I was growing up,
she seems to be on all of them.
And even though I watch everything on Tivo now, I can't seem to get rid of her.

I'm speaking of Flo, the Progressive Car Insurance Lady.
In the white smock.
Wearing too much lipstick.
Dealing with people with a mixture of concern and mild contempt.
She's everywhere.
She's even showing up on print ads on the Internet.

The Flo commercials aren't really as bad as the Mr. Whipple commercials.
They aren't completely unfunny.
That makes them even worse.
Because they keep being repeated.
And hearing a fairly lame joke that you've heard more than once gets worse with each re-hearing.
My only hope is that some genius at some network decides that it would be a brilliant idea to give the actress who plays Flo a series.
That would isolate her, and I wouldn't have to look at her any more.

The Geico gecko and his dim-witted boss ARE completely unfunny, and give Mr. Whipple a run for his money with regards to annoying.

But these commercials are both for car insurance.
The audience they are being targeted for has to
A- Know how to drive a car, and
B- Know that they have to have car insurance.
So they can't be going for as low a common denominator as the Charmin people.
All their audience has to know is that they have to wipe their asses.

It's kind of like the Republicans going after the Independent vote.
Why the Independent voters aren't coming out in droves for the Democrats is beyond me.
At least Obama and Nancy Pelosi are trying to get things done.
And they are succeeding, as much as the Republicans will let them.
The Republicans don't want to do ANYTHING.
The only thing they are good at is marketing.
They know what idiots their base is made up of.
And they are catered to with great care.
And the Republicans are apparently doing a great job on the Independent voters.
Maybe these voters are, and are perceived as being, just one measly cut above the Republican base.
So they have to be played to as if they at least know how to drive, and know that they need to have car insurance.

Whereas the Republican base needs only to be played to as if they only know how to wipe their asses.

.......and we're walkin! .........and we're walkin'!


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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."