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Most companies have a habit of using extreme hyperbole to sell a product. One common way of doing this is Cereal-Induced Superpowers, and the other is this: Hyping up the perceived desirability of the product to comically absurd levels.
In the context of a commercial, Serious Business can make people in the ads Too Dumb to Live. They will ignore their families, forgo basic necessities, and go to extreme lengths of self-abuse all for a hamburger, a bottle of beer, and other such things. They'll barge into a hospital and try giving a person brain surgery because a new tax office made figuring out their income tax so easy, they decided that everything must be that easy. In short, people in commercials will often act at least twice as stupid as Network executives think their audience is. Sometimes "justified" because the products really do have Magic Powers. Which is just as telling to the audience.
Well, not always. Sometimes, you can tell that they're basically spoofing the concept, by having the commercial portray such behavior being as extreme as it really is. The message here is that their product is so good, you'll want to do this crazy stuff, but we know you're too smart for that, right?
[Not to be confused with Sean Cullen's claim that the greatest things in the universe are wood, cheese, and children.]
Compare The Power of Love, The Power of Friendship, and The Power of Rock, each of which can overlap with this trope, depending on the product. See also Men Buy From Mars, Women Buy From Venus to get a more gender-oriented look at stupidity in advertising.
For a trope actually about cheese, see Blessed Are the Cheesemakers.
- Volkswagen's ad campaign for their new car, the Routan, is just...baffling. Apparently, according to Brooke Shields, women everywhere are having babies--sometimes with men they barely even know--just to get the new Volkswagen Routan, and any of them that say otherwise ("No I'm not! And this is my husband!") are merely in denial. This fake public service announcement would be funny if it weren't so mind-bogglingly stupid. And LONG!
- A disturbing variation has people doing awful things to each other for the sake of the product, such as a car owner sticking pins into a voodoo doll representing the neighbor who spilled coffee in the car.
- Yet a third variation (from...Toyota? I forget) features people describing the crazy-ass rules they've made for keeping their new car nice. One of them is a woman who has decided not to let her kids get a dog based solely on the fact that she has this car now; and this manages to not be the craziest thing someone says in this commercial (it's up there, but it's not the crowner).
- One car ad featured every man in an entire city ripping off their clothes and dancing erotically because they just really like this one car driving by.
- An ad campaign for Korbel champagne, where any other brand was horrible, to the point where people stopped a new year's countdown because of it, and prompted Don Ho to start singing about "huge, disgusting bubbles" in the wine.
- There was an ad for Dr. Pepper which showed a really whipped guy doing embarrassing things for his girlfriend--buying tampons, taking yoga with her, holding her purse while she tries on clothes--then she takes a sip of his Dr. Pepper and he gets pissed and storms out (actually, more like he flees in terror). All the while, "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" plays in the background.
- Perhaps he's a germaphobe?
- An ad for Tetley had a cartoon character crawling through the desert desperately crying out for water. Then he came across a jug of water, picked it up, and resumed crawling, this time desperately crying out for Tetley.
- There used to be a series of British beer commercials in which a guy became a superhero after drinking a pint, probably inspired by Popeye's spinach powers. "Oh, it's Tankard that helps me excel! After one I do anything well!" They were banned on the grounds of false advertising, of course.
- A PSA ad parodied this, having the 'hero' return to a normal man halfway through his feat of heroism and fall off some scaffolding to his death (or at least serious injury). It then went on to warn you about the risks of drink making you feel like a super hero.
- Tim Hortons' initial commercial advertising their new 'steeped' tea went beyond Commercial Idiocy: The apparently young, hip and trendy son (note: foot-and-a-half-high
mofaux hawk, band t-shirt and baggy jeans with more chains than a dungeon. egad. he must be hip!) brings home two cups of tea for his forty-something mother. When she remarks that the tea is good, he says 'yeah, it's steeped'. Somehow, despite the fact that the word 'steeped' has been a part of the English language since tea was a part of English, the mother comes to the logical conclusion that her emo-gothwannabe punk of a son has just uttered some hip new trendy word. And so she goes on to use steeped throughout the rest of the commercial. Her young, daughter models a mini-skirt, and all her mother says is 'steeped outfit honey', instead of 'take that off now!'. Later, when admiring her elderly neighbour's garden, the mother adopts a hip-hip pose and tells Mrs. Chen that her 'garden's looking steeped!'. Clearly, Tim Horton's advertising department is made up of idiots.
- Tim Hortons in Canada had a series of ads where one person would be talking about something important, and the other person doesn't hear a word because they were on the way to get an iced cappuccino and can't concentrate on anything else.
- There's a Coca-Cola commercial that states that the formula for Coca-Cola is broken into two part, each known by one man. The commercial goes on to claim that if either of these men were to die society would cease to exist and a hole would tear right through the center of the universe...all because of the lack of Coca-Cola.
- Conversely, there was a Pepsi ad where a fellow was sent back in time-- having forgotten to put down his bottle of Pepsi. "What's the worst that could happen?" his colleagues say-- as we see the original Atlanta Coca-Cola plant fade out of existence.
- Hilariously subverted in a late-90s Australian commercial for the soft drink Sprite: In the Australian 'bush', a man lies groaning and clutching his leg. Cue rugged bush ranger type (imagine Crocodile Dundee), who starts talking about how to help snakebites.
If you were to pour Sprite on the wound... This would do absolutely nothing, because all Sprite does is quench your thirst. [Takes a big drink, as the guy with the snakebite finally stops moving]
- Bud Light commercials are infamous for this:
- The "You Got A Raw Deal" segment, where a madman trades away warm clothing in an arctic blizzard for a bottle of beer - and claims the now-warm guy got a raw deal.
- Two college buddies are down to their last few dollars, and have to choose between a six-pack of Bud Light and a roll of toilet paper. They choose the beer. (Which prompts them to answer the checker's "paper or plastic?" question with an emphatic "Paper!".)
- Another ad features a bunch of people stranded on an island after a plane crash. One of the crash victims walks up to the rest of the group and announces that she has found the plane's radio equipment and believes they'll be able to be rescued, only for the group to ignore her in favor of the man who has found the plane's beverage cart, full of Bud Light. Apparently calling for help and then partying is not an option.
- A beer commercial started with having outlandish claims for their beer (for example, that drinking beers will cause you to understand animals), only to hastily retract said claim when the powers that the beer grant turn out to be less than satisfactory (it turns out the family dog can only say "SAUSAGES!" over and over again)
- The California Milk Processor Board once ran fairy-tale like ads, one of which Sarah Haskins hilariously summed up as:
"Milk will bring sunshine to a land devastated by your period tears."
- Another milk ad: A mother is urging her two kids to drink their milk so they can grow up strong. The children scoff -- "Mr. Johnson next door doesn't drink milk, and he's fine," they say. And coincidentally Mr. Johnson is next door in his yard, doing some yardwork -- he waves hello to the kids, and they wave back. Then Mr. Johnson leans over to pick up the handles of his wheelbarrow -- but when he straightens back up, his arms rip off at the shoulders. "Oh, dear, that's not good," he says, as the kids and mother all scream in terror, and grab their glasses and start power-chugging milk.
- Named for a series of ads by The American Dairy Association, which made silly claims about cheese.
- Parodied in this webcomic strip, where even Cthulhu is no match for cheese.
- Parodied in Kid Radd during the break the forth wall week, where Radd destroys the world with the power of cheese. It includes an admonition that a certain number of universes are destroyed every day by people misusing The Power of Cheese, so be careful.
- The Canadian Association of Dairy Farmers had their own campaign, where people were told that if they wanted to get rid of people who wouldn't go away, they should "stop cooking with cheese".
- Also parodied in Sluggy Freelance, when Torg is chasing a ghost. He notices that her name, Brie Meighsaton, is evocative of Brie cheese, and begins laughing that it's a really funny name and makes it hard to consider her scary. Then she scares him so much he runs and hides under a bed with the 4th wall caption "Behold the power of cheese".
- And then there's That's My Sonic's take on the above. It just gets crazier from there.
- "Granddad, you can't tame the white supremacist power structure with cheese!"
- "The hell I can't!"
- He can.
- There's a flash toon out there where a man rallies all the humans to fight back against alien invaders with "THROOOOW THE CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE!" Of course, the cheese does jack shit to the alien ships. (ASDF Movie)
- There's a series of ads for "Crunchy Nut" cereal in the UK to this effect, one of which has supermarket staff confiscate the boxes from customers so as they can eat it themselves.
- That's multiple staff members, confiscating a box each, from the same person, at the same time. They couldn't just take one off the shelves unobtrusively and share it. Another ad has a guy walk out of the shop into heavy rain, and, after a moment's decision, use his laptop keep himself dry and keep the cereal safe in its case. Even though the cereal is presumably in a waterproof bag inside the box. It's unclear whether the inherent Fridge Logic is a subtle, intentional lampshade, or just evidence that the makers of the ads are on about the same intellectual level as the characters.
- The oft-parodied early '90s TV commercials for Mentos almost certainly share Trope Maker status with the above-mentioned cheese ads - each of the ads consisted of a vignette of a person getting away with some sort of improbable feat through the power of Mentos.
- Parodied by Strong Bad E-mails in "Candy Bar", when SBLOUNSKCHED!, Strong Bad's candy bar, is advertised similarly.
Strong Bad: Man, with a candy bar like that, you could get away with anything!
- Orbit gum commercials. You can go through the most incredible muddy/dusty/dirty situations imaginable, but your teeth are still gleamingly clean and that's all that matters. Fabulous!
- The best was when Snoop Dog was sent to hell for a 'dirty mouth'...and went to heaven as soon as he chewed Orbit. The disclaimer at the bottom? "Chewing Orbit will not actually get you into heaven."
- The "Drop the Chalupa!" ads from Taco Bell.
- Planters Peanuts ran a Super Bowl Special commercial featuring a homely young woman (complete with uni-brow) turning heads of all the attractive young men she passed during the normal course of her day. Then we see the start of her day involved dabbing a Planters peanut behind each ear as though it were perfume.
- Marmite has both used this trope and inverted it: they've had people passionately making out just to get that residual Marmite taste from someone's mouth, but also had a starving homeless person throwing away a sandwich because it contained Marmite, as part of their "you either love it or hate it strategy".
- One advert depicts a rescue team arriving at an Arctic/Antarctic/somewhere very cold base to find the population of the base starving, but they have tons of food supplies. They're only starving because...they've run out of Heinz Tomato Ketchup (you can't eat without it!).
- A-1 Steak Sauce commercials depict people doing great and stupid things to get that last dollop out of the bottle, such as one man at a tailgate party attempting to lick it off of a hot barbecue grill. (While sitting in an ambulance afterwards: "Ith my thteak okay?") Probably to avoid being sued by some moron who did do something like that, the ad includes a disclaimer telling people not to do this.
- Less dangerous versions include the fine-dining restaurant where the waiter carrying expensive wine and A-1 sauce trips, prompting the diner to lunge down in order to save ... the bottle of steak sauce.
- There was an Oh Henry! commercial where numerous hungry men chase down some guy for the chocolate bar. The chased guy once threw pizzas to slow down the pursuers, but they responded with: "We only want the Oh Henry!"
- There was a radio ad for Quiznos subs, where an employee attempted to trade items of ever increasing value for his co-worker's sub. It culminated in him asking his supervisor to try and persuade him only to find that the supervisor traded his job to the mailman for a sub earlier.
- A Burger King ad had several people in an assistance group detailing what several people went through for a Burger King Angus Bacon Cheddar Ranch Steak Burger, including one leaving in the middle of her own wedding, a man leaving his loved ones at the airport, and a man wrapped head to toe falling out of his wheelchair, just so a guy could sit down to eat his Angus Burger..
- A recent series of Burger King commercials feature people bragging about their great accomplishments that warranted being worthy of their burger, followed by someone who isn't worthy who gets lectured. "wow you're eating Burger King's new burger what did you do?" "I gave half my paycheck to starving orphans" "wow....what about you?" "ummm...I was hungry?" *gets his face slapped and yelled at for being selfish*
- There is also the other one when a man is called an arrogant punk because he only helped discover a new moon. "You either discover a moon or you don't."
- A new series of Burger King ads airing in summer 2010 features people who have bought items from Burger King's value menu. Apparently this was such a "smart move" that they are allowed to, in their own words, "be dumb". One example of this dumbness: handling conductive metal rods on the roof during a thunderstorm.
- There's also the "masculinist" ad for a Texas Double Whopper, which included men burning their briefs.
- Commercials for one kind of ice cream popsicle. One of them was about a guy who spends his only coin rather for a popsicle than a condom (although his girlfriend is hot!), and the second one was about a woman in a prison cell, who manages to steal the ring with the keys from the sleeping guard, but uses the keys not for opening the cell door, but for the freezer in her cell, which contains lots of tasty popsicles.
- "What would you do-o-o, for a Klondike bar?" The whole ad campaign is based on people doing such things for a Klondike bar, even doing things that would make them enough money to buy them thousands.
- Family Guy parodied this in one episode by having a commercial narrator ask someone if he'd kill a man for a Klondike bar (he does).
- The Colbert Report parody: the German UN ambassador appears on the show, acts like a stereotypically dour German, and dismisses the concept of cupcakes for failing to soothe his existential angst, only to end the interview with, "But the unspeakable things I would do... that I have done... for a Klondike Bar" (which he produces and bites into, to thunderous audience applause). Watch it here. The part about Germany starts at 3:40, but the entire segment is worth watching.
- On My Name Is Earl Earl's new wife (played by Alyssa Milano) is a Jerkass who took an afternoon to humiliate Randy using "What would you do for a Klondike bar?" as an excuse. Yet she did give him the Klondike bar at the end.
- Subverted in a spot done for a contest by Kyle Carrozza. A polar bear talk show host asks his polar bear guest what he'd do for a Klondike bar, and in response his guest bursts into song, listing off all the stuff he'd do for a Klondike bar, which all start with the letters K-L-O-N-D-I-K-E. When he's finished, the host says, "Really? I'd just buy one."
- Similar to the unreasonable economic argument about the Klondike bar, a commercial for Trident Layers features a man telling his babysitter that he wants to pay her in gum. She happily agrees. The children she was watching and Peeping Tom eavesdropper both cluck about their enthusiasm for the gum, while a phone repairman in his bucket lift across the street somehow hears the conversation and comments that he's upset that no one pays him in gum. Yeah, the poor schmuck has to settle for a paycheck worth hundreds of times more than that single pack of gum.
- A later commercial shows a man having gotten what would appear to be a huge pay raise. It turns out to be in gum. His wife is not amused.
- Another involves a construction company buying out an old lady who likes mint with the new mint flavored Layers.
- One Doritos Super Bowl Special commercial features an office worker asking a snow globe if there will be free dorito's at the office that day. He throws the snow globe at a vending machine filled with Doritos.
- A Dairy Queen ad showed a boyfriend and girlfriend meeting up because she needs consolation after the death of her cat. She's crying and blubbering and he's distracted by his coffee-shake, and finally hugs her with the drink in his hand so that he can sip it over her shoulder.
- Some years back, Subway had a series of commercials wherein one person would be disgusted with the diet of another, prompting the latter to respond, "It's okay, I had Subway for lunch." The former concludes that having Subway for lunch justifies not only questionable eating habits, but any kind of outrageous behavior.
- The McDonald's Angus Third Pounder is so good you'll want to take your time. The extra cab fares are irrelevant.
- Twix would like you to believe that eating their candy bars will allow you to pause time and come up with a suitable excuse for reading a book on how to manipulate women, in front of a hot woman.
- More recent commercials take this a step further and suggest that eating them will allow you to come up with convincing lies for cheating on your wife or girlfriend.
- Unintentionally subverted by a recent commercial for breakfast corndog-style sausages. Before eating one, a high school student has the sulks and refuses to don his chemistry goggles or perform the assigned experiment. After one bite, he's supposedly become a wannabee chem wiz... yet is now stupid enough to eat breakfast while handling chemicals hazardous enough to require eye protection.
- Hostess Fruit Pies used to run comic strip ads in comic books in which heroes like Batman could stop the bad guy by tempting him with a fruit pie.
- Parodied in an issue of Marvel Team Up where Aunt May defeats Galactus with a giant Twinkie.
- There was a commercial for some kind of dog food or treat that showed a little dog somehow walking up five stories up the side of a building to reach his owner, who was leaning out the window with the goody.
- Many candy commercials aimed at kids will feature some sort of wild transformation to the eater of the candy, such as Airheads (where one's head would transform into a balloon) and Fruit Gushers (where heads became a variety of giant fruits depending on the flavor).
- This Nutrigrain ad.
- A recent mattress commercial features a woman worrying about her diet until a mattress salesman informs her that her weight problem is due to not getting a good night's sleep. Apparently, a bad mattress is what's making her fat, not the extra calories and lack of exercise.
- Oddly enough, recent studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can contribute to weight problems. So they may actually have Shown Their Work. Or they got lucky.
- The AXE and TAG ads, which claim they are more attractive to women than they could possibly be. With a couple of exceptions most modern Sex for Product ads take Refuge in Audacity with this trope. The advertiser gets to associate his product with scantily clad beautiful women, and no one can yell at him because he's obviously kidding.
- AXE is Lynx in the UK. The ads are even better.
- One of Lynx's ad campaigns in the UK a few years back had the slogan "spray more, get more". Of course, the audience most likely to interpret this in an irony-free manner- horny 13-year-old boys- are already notorious for using ridiculous amounts of Lynx in place of a shower, without any encouragement.
- Everyone in Germany who has seen any TV during the 90s will remember this one ad. Revitalizing indeed.
- Inverted by Old Spice, which will not turn your man into the dashing suave gentleman in the ad, but will at least allow him to smell like him. I'm on a horse.
- Schick meanwhile claims that their Quattro Titanium razors will gives you a shave that is so smooth and close, it will cause women at the gym to become distracted and fall off of their treadmills.
- Holiday Inn Express has a series of TV ads where someone attempts some highly skilled job (taking over flying a plane when the pilot is unable to, major surgery, a freestyle rap battle, etc...) When someone asks them if they are qualified, they reply, "No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night".
- How about those disturbing, harrowing commercials in which an ostensibly perfect mom hides a secret: she has become dependent on chemicals. The pleasure she derives from them goes hand-in-hand with the shame that she feels for enjoying the cheap thrills they provide. She goes to great lengths to hide them from her friends and family, constantly lying, clearly terrified of the prospect that she might be found out. Most recently, she has even begun to have hallucinations in which inanimate objects threaten to expose her secret to the world. Glade addiction: the new menace tearing apart suburban families.
- Survival Auto Insurance had (has? I dunno) a series of commercials based on the idea that cars not insured by Survival are not worth getting into even if not doing so means you'll probably die. Made famous by the first commercial, which featured a guy walking in the desert, apparently malnourished and dehydrated, when an attractive woman in a convertible arrives and says "Need a lift?" The dialogue then goes like this: "Are you insured?" "Yes." "By Survival?" "No." "I can't take that ride." Seen here
- Another featured a back-room poker game where one player raises the stakes by betting his car with the exchange ending with "I can't take that bet." Seen here
- The camera megastore B&H imply that disasters would happen if a B&H camera wasn't used at the event. The strangest: someone objecting at a wedding because the camera being used to record it wasn't bought from B&H.
- Lord Dunsany's ultrashort story What We Have Come To, in its entirety:
When the advertiser saw the cathedral spires over the downs in the distance, he looked at them and wept.
"If only," he said, "this were an advertisement of Beefo, so nice, so nutritious, try it in your soup, ladies like it."
- His The Reward, a considerably longer piece, further elaborates on the same subject:
I looked at the legend on the walls of the hell that the angel was building, the words were written in flame, every fifteen seconds they changed their color, "Yeasto, the great new yeast, it builds up body and brain, and something more."
"They shall look at it for ever," the angel said.
- Brawndo the Thirst Mutilator. Without a doubt a parody, but by far a hilarious usage of this trope.
- It's got electrolytes.
- Brawndo is, frighteningly enough, a real product. They hired the parodists who created Powerthirst (which is fake) to make their commercials, though.
- It actually started out as a parody before it became a real product. According to legend, Gatorade wasn't too happy with the way it was going to be mocked in Idiocracy and canceled the Product Placement deal, so they used "Brawndo" instead.
- Allegedly, Powerthirst is now real, too.