March 01, 2006

"Imagine Your Endorsement Money Just Got Stolen!"

They bought their tickets. They knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash.
-- the Counterpoint Guy, "Airplane!"

CNN MONEY HAS AN interesting story posted about how many U.S. athletes may have lost the biggest prize of all -- endorsement money -- at the recent Winter Olympics in Turin. That's because the U.S. teams generally didn't perform too well.

Part of me feels sorry for the athletes: after all, endorsements are the only way many of them can do well while pursuing sports in which competition isn't lucrative. The other part of me, however, is downright glad. That's because I generally hate commercials featuring Olympic athletes -- before, during, and after the Games.

For this state of affairs, I blame the people in charge of the Visa International Service Organization's recent publicity scheme, in which God-fearing Americans like me were bombarded with advertisements telling us about the Visa Check Cards we already have. To viewers like me, these advertisements made absolutely no sense, for several reasons:

1. They started airing prior to the Super Bowl.
2. They involved snowboarding.
3. They involved something called "Torino," which to my football-fuddled mind sounded like an auto race.
4. They involved Lindsey Jacobellis, a Vermont native, acting relaxed upon imagining her Visa Check Card* had just been stolen. However, this clearly failed the "believability test."

That's because Jacobellis is from Vermont, and Vermonters view check cards as newfangled flatlander tools, through which people from "away" grow wealthy and finance schemes to plow under open land and replace it with horrible faux-Tudor third homes. Or so I'm told, anyway.

But I digress. The point is: the ads went in one ear and out the other, primarily because I saw this particular ad roughly 720 times. In fact, I came to hate this ad with a fury that I normally reserve for the music of David Hasselhoff and bad movies with superheroes. I hated it so much that when I finally found out it involved the Olympics, I became disgusted with the competition and did my very best to tune it out. Throughout the three weeks or so of the Olympics, I can honestly say that I only watched about five minutes of actual competition.

That involved the U.S. men's curling team. It lost to Finland or something. And as hard as I tried, I just couldn't get worked up about losing to Finland.

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* I suppose this is a good time to ask a question that I, and many others I've known, have long wondered: why the hell do commercial script-writers refer to a "MasterCard card?"

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at March 1, 2006 09:15 PM | TrackBack