You know that messed-with feeling you get while you watch 30 seconds of carefully-murmured nothing try to sell you something? Kendra Eash nails it in her McSweeney's poemmentary, "This is a Generic Brand Video," which has gone viral. The perfect irony is that the subsequent (and brilliant) video version is a real commercial for a real company: a video firm that sells itself as the winking, upstart alternative to generic advertising. More on blank ad campaigns – which I used to do for a living – soon. Right now, enjoy Eash's piece and the video.
This is a Generic Brand Video.
We think first
Of vague words that are synonyms for progress
And pair them with footage of a high-speed train.
Is doing lots of stuff
That may or may not have anything to do with us.
See how this guy in a lab coat holds up a beaker?
That means we do research.
Here’s a picture of DNA.
There are a shitload of people in the world
Especially in India
See how we’re part of the global economy?
Look at these farmers in China.
But we also do business in the U.S.A.
Or want you to think we do.
Check out this wind energy thing in Indiana,
And this blue collar guy with dirt on his face.
Also, we care about the environment, loosely.
Here’s some powerful, rushing water
And people planting trees.
Our policies could be related to these panoramic views of Costa Rica.
In today’s high speed environment,
Stop motion footage of a city at night
With cars turning quickly
Makes you think about doing things efficiently
And time passing.
Lest you think we’re a faceless entity,
Look at all these attractive people.
Here’s some of them talking and laughing
And close-ups of hands passing canned goods to each other
In a setting that evokes community service.
Are all words we chose from a list.
Like this guy who’s looking up and pointing
At a skyscraper or a kite
While smiling and explaining something to his child.
Using a specific ratio
of Asian people to Black people to Women to White men
We want to make sure we represent your needs and interests
Or at least a version of your skin color
In our ads.
Did we put a baby in here?
What about an ethnic old man whose wrinkled smile represents the happiness and wisdom of the poor?