“Whoa, This Thing, Like, Meant Somethin’”

Advertising is a pretty immoral enterprise. Let’s face it. To say that the entire expedition is based on lying is barely an overstatement at all. Things like the “straw man fallacy” — the endeavor of setting up a “fake opponent” (like a fast food chain whose burgers make you explode when you eat them, or thereabouts) and combatting it — are all but encouraged. 

So perhaps there’s an extent to which everybody knows every commercial is full of sh** and the goal then becomes just to be funny. Then, there’s another realm entirely, germinating probably within the last 20 years or so, of setting up a straw man that’s just so stupid that the company writing the commercial seems buffoonish. Typically, this exact concoction emanates from companies (Jimmy John’s being one) whose products are so ubiquitous and familiar to all Americans that, you would think, advertising would be a pointless endeavor. And I mean, it doesn’t seem very likely that this type of commercial would really WORK, at all. 

But this last Jimmy John’s commercial with the Italian sandwich tycoon named something like “Bolognavich” is kind of funny. Actually, though, it’s scarier than it is funny. And it’s scary in a way that’s actually pretty sophisticated, like The Shining — suspenseful writing combined with ingenuous, from-the-hip acting, the type of stew which gives it a cinematic quality, and, I suppose, a certain phenomenological zeal. Is it going to sell sandwiches? That’s probably a stretch. 

But it’s funny to think that, in the commercial with the dude saying “Jimmy John’s is in the phones,” and doing so with a sort of psychopathology that’s actually kind of unsettling, the company has, in one of its commercials, given us a horror movie that’s probably better than average, by these days’ standards. It’s like some strange occurrence where that writing just had to surface, occluded by the indefatigable corporate inanity governing the actual movie industry, the type of thing which would relegate vital writing to the background in favor of special effects and cultural iconography, of course. The writer of this commercial just wanted to get his vision out to the world, one way or the other, and, ironically, these days, commercials are the primary arena for legitimate wit, humor, and, as we see now, even horror. And the executives at Jimmy John’s thought it was funny, or scary, or some unique combination of the two (which it is, to be sure), and so, in sort of a convoluted reasoning set, decided it would make for a good commercial. I mean, you don’t want to be that company whose commercials aren’t funny. You’ve got your CEO coolness factor to worry about, and everything. 


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