Saturday, November 29, 2008

Make It Stop

I've been trying to figure out why IBM's TV commercials are so bad, and have been so bad ever since they started using those blue letterboxing bands on them. There is an air of humorless unreality about them, as if some 62-year-old in a gray suit was trying to think of ways to present business as irreverent fun. I have yet to see one that had a believable moment in it, that evinced any familiarity at all with the human condition.

The ones that are airing right now - with some young chin-haired techie explaining the benefits of going green - are among the better ones in the series, rising to the level of the merely bad, rather than train-wreck awful, with their mock-Disney music and at least a halfhearted attempt at justifying greenness in financial terms, when you know that's all that real businesspeople will end up caring about. The acting isn't as annoying as in some of the other spots, like the one when two guys are sitting in desks facing each other and sinking in quicksand while repeating an inneffectual parody of Aaron Sorkin hypertheatrical dialogue, which in its original form was only an ineffectual parody of David Mamet.

That wasn't the worst one, though; the worst one was when a bunch of 24-year-olds in gray suits talking on cell phones at European outdoor cafes attempted to show, through their smug acting, that working for IBM in a bunch of foreign capitals was the coolest thing in the world. No, wait: That wasn't nearly as bad as the one with the short, white, middle-aged middle-management superhero in Malcom X glasses. Lord help the sinners.

I don't buy mainframes, so I am not IBM's target audience (although since I watch hardly any new television other than sports, I get to see these ads a lot). Sometimes I wonder if that target audience, like me, watches these commercials and thinks that IBM is run by a bunch of preening idiots.

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