Baseline: Do-it-yourself ads shriek bad taste

You can spot a real salesman.He's the one with nothing to sell but the smile on his face, the shine on his shoes, and an ego the size of the federal deficit.Give one of these guys his own religion, and access...

You can spot a real salesman.

He’s the one with nothing to sell but the smile on his face, the shine on his shoes, and an ego the size of the federal deficit.

Give one of these guys his own religion, and access to a videotape studio, and you get a Jim Bakker, a Jerry Falwell, a Jimmy Swaggart.

Give ‘em shares in their own consumer durables company, and you get an Alex Tilley, a Dave Nichol, a Mel Lastman.

Curiously, even in the late 20th century, most Monster Pitchmen are on such a bender of adrenalin and self-adoration, they totally ignore the basic principles of television production and Film as Art.

just put me in front of a camera and turn it on! i’ll kill ‘em! i’ll kill ‘em dead! banzaiiii!

For them, there is no magic in performance, in ambience, in editing, in soaring strings and rose-hued skies. So, who needs an ad agency?

They are unaware many of us find Real Life to be a bit of a downer due to the prevalence of bad casting, poor sound, dreary dialogue, ghastly sets, shitty plot development and atrocious editing, and turn to the majesty of film for relief and inspiration.

For them, the Power of Personality conquers all. specifically, my personality, jack, so screw off with your production values!!

John Candy had these guys down perfectly with his I’m the guy with the snake on his face character.

I mean, do you see Alex Tilley on ctv in the morning, grilling those helpless, twitching wretches who’ve wandered into his Tilley Endurables shop?

Nailed by hand-held tv camera lights like raccoons in Maserati highbeams, they wince and stutter, rocking back and forth on their heels, eyes rolling back in their heads, babbling inane confessions.

I’m here to buy a hat for my mother and I brought my daughter because she has a small head!

Archaelogical dig

My daughter wore her Tilley hat to an archaeological dig in Athens all summer and was free from sun problems so I’m here…for shorts!

There were all these Canadian presidents in Tilley shorts in Perth Australia but I didn’t have my camera! as usual!

Writhing in discomfort, these mumblers are finally put out of their on-camera misery by Tilley’s chipper thank you! two rather wonderful stores (his voice rising) in toronto and snip! he’s cut off dead at the end of his thirty seconds, right in mid-quaver!

Another wrap! Another fifty bucks well spent!

Several decades ago here in Toronto, a guy named Mel Lastman developed an appliance-and-furniture chain called The Bad Boy which made The Brick look like Harrods.

The Bad Boy’s demise left Mel free to become the Mayor of North York, a suburban Toronto city, but his son has created a Frankenstein-on-Amphetamines reincarnation of the concept, whose current commercials almost defy description.

Suddenly your screen is framed in flashing, flipping Canadian and American flag motifs pop! pop! pop! and Hey that’s Bill and Hillary Clinton! doing a schtick about taxes or something and sitting on a couch like you used to see in funeral parlors only now it’s in The Bad Boy’s showroom, and suddenly Lastman-the-Younger bellies up over the back of the couch yelling no gst!! no pst!! and then we go to the big signoff covered in cartoon trademarks and store addresses with two little windows.

The Bad Boy

In one, Lastman Fils yells Who’s gonna beat The Bad Boy? noooooo buddy! and he freeze-frames doing a Felix the Cat wink and a finger-and-thumb okay sign. Then his old man the Mayor pops up in the other little window and does the Felix wink and the okay and shouts nooooo buddy!

It’s buckeye retail baroque!

And then there was Dave Nichol. Sitting in somebody’s basement. Talking, talking, talking. Now he’s gone, they’re still doing it, but all they’ve got left are the production values.

Remember Bartles and Jaymes? Such advertising! So funny! So gracious! So seductive! Corporate spokespersons from Ad Agency Dreamland! And so far removed from the nastiness of Real Life!

Barry Base is president and creative director of Barry Base & Partners, Toronto.

Off-air dubs of ads reviewed in this column were supplied courtesy of Nielsen Creative Services, a division of Nielsen Marketing Research.