Indianapolis 500 TV Ads that Sucked

I did something this weekend that I haven’t done in a long, long time. I watched TV for a couple of hours. Including ads. With the sound turned up.

We got rid of TV years ago. I don’t say that to be all “we’re too cool for TV” snobbish - I’m sure what we lack in TV screen time we more than make up for in computer, tablet and phone screen time.

But I sure don’t miss TV ads.

Coping with Ads

As a family we have two coping mechanisms for TV advertising when we are subject to them:

  1. Mute the volume
  2. Make fun of them

After years of coping this way it seems odd when others don’t do the same - why do you subject yourself to those messages when you have the power to avoid them? 

Why Watch?

We’ve some great neighbors for the summer and they’ve been schooling us in hospitality. They had Indianapolis 500 on yesterday and invited us over - we had a great afternoon ducking the rain, playing cards, and watching the race.

Memorable in a Bad Way

I had a strong negative reaction to two ads. I thought about them overnight and realized that I disliked them both for the same reason - they violate the ditching suburbia ethos.


First up is this Chevy ad:

What sucked about it?

  • The “host” figure is a Pied Piper. With no parents in sight, you immediately know he’s there to give the kids something new and cool, then take it away from them and get their reaction. In this case it was wi-fi but it might as well have been candy. It was manipulative. It was creepy.
  • The sight of kids in the back of a car wearing headphones and staring at a screen, tuned out to the world around them, made me sad. We stuff our kids with media letting Disney raise them instead of us.
  • Our kids don’t need additional screen time. In our family life the biggest reason I love driving days is that it’s all of us, in one space, sharing the experience with little distraction.
  • 4G devices that can play movies in a car are nothing new. You probably own one already.
  • What’s going to happen when a generation of kids who grew up watching screens while in cars suddenly have to drive instead? (Oh, right. Self-driving cars.)
  • $150/month for 10GB - that’s the data plan that Chevy offers (think about that - Chevy is selling data plans). What could you do with that money as a family?  4 meals out? Visit a zoo?

Chevy struck below the belt. Kids don’t buy cars. They don’t pay the data bill. I don’t want my kids to think “the car cares for them”.

That’s my job.

Quicken Loans

Next up - this ad for Quicken Loans.

What sucked about this one?

  • The first visual is a white picket fence? Can you get any more stereotypical than that?
  • ...“crossing the ocean, walking on the moon, or signing a 30 year mortgage on a home” Really? A little Sesame Street exercise is in order here - which one of these is not like the other?
  • The American Dream didn’t start off being about consumption, owning, and accumulating. It was about bravery, adventure, and doing the impossible.
  • If signing a mortgage “terrifies” you it’s for good reason. You are lining the pockets of the already-weathy while dropping anchor on your own life. Your cash is gone. Your mobility is gone. Your free time is gone. The “investment” you’ve made is questionable.

The arrogance Quicken shows in this ad is impressive. Suggesting that by signing a mortgage you can stand alongside settlers, astronauts, and explorers is ridiculous.

Those people didn’t follow the plan that society laid out for them.

You shouldn’t either.

Quit letting the banks, the schools and the government tell you what “The American Dream” is. Figure it out for yourself.

Did You See These Ads?

If so - did you react the same way? Or were you thinking “cool - finally I can get wi-fi in my car?”

2 Comments Indianapolis 500 TV Ads that Sucked

  1. Picture of Jenni Jenni May 26, 2015

    We did not see the ads because if there is any sport I cannot abide, it’s the one where a bunch of loud cars go around a loop 500 times (although nearly anything can be fun if you’re with friends and good neighbors).  But this reminds me of that Cadillac commercial we encountered right after we got home from our year on the road, the one where Mr. Super Husband brags about working like a dog so he can own more awesome stuff and only take one measly one-week vacation each year.  And they also chose to compare that “accomplishment” with landing on the moon.  Must have been the same ad agency.

  2. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink May 26, 2015

    It makes me curious…how much crap has been sold using the moon landing as a narrative?

    Other than Tang..;)

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