Some commercials feature happy people telling you how much they like a certain product after the company pays them a large amount of money to do so. Some ads are filled with cute babies and critters who can sell anything with the twinkle of a big ol’ eyeball. Some commercials have shouting high pressure pitchmen trying to forcefully persuade you to buy what they want you to buy. There are even ads that don’t make any sense at all….
And then there are wonderful little ads where shit gets killed…. unmercilessly.
And why not? After all, there are many products out there on the market… stuff we buy all the time, that has only one purpose. To end the life of something we don’t find to be too pleasurable. Whether it be roaches in the pantry, mucus in the lungs, or Justin Bieber on our lawn again.
With the exception of myself, most people don’t like weeds. Weeds are just your everyday, ordinary indigenous plantlife that occupies your lawn that suburban elitists have decided are undesirables and should be eliminated with extreme prejudice. And the weeds can’t do anything about it since the ACLU has no time to represent the rights of flora, unless it’s the kind that rolls nicely into a joint. So in the lawn and garden department of your favorite store, you will find a wide selection of weed killing products. One of the most popular of these brands is Roundup, and in 1998, they released a commercial that will always be in my Top 5 list of funniest TV ads ever…
And it’s not on YouTube!!!! But this cousin ad is….
If you want to see the original and best iteration of this ad (and the one I will talk about for the rest of this post)… click here to watch it on tvspots.tv, the only place I can find it on the web…
Roundup takes the idea of enticing consumers by showing the enemy being taken care of by their product to a whole new level. Not only have they anthropomorphized the weeds that are being targeted for floracide so that we can’t help but feel a little sorry for them… but for 30 seconds we watch in horror as these two poor little dandelions suffer a slow, gruesome, agonizing death that would make even Freddy Krueger blush through his burnt skin. The Nazis didn’t even have it this bad in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Thank goodness for the comic relief!
I’m not sure if this ad is supposed to parodying some specific genre or not, but it’s like a cross between The Godfather and a spaghetti western. Hank’s the Big Weed, and The Kid is his apprentice sidekick… and they’re both doomed to turn a nasty shade of yellow and brown thanks to some villainous homeowner who caught them hanging out in the garden and decided to spray first and ask questions later. The Kid keeps turning to Hank for reassurance that they’re gonna be OK, who just wants to die in peace. The only thing keeping Hank from slapping the shit out of the mouthy young weedling is the fact that his leafy arms fell off in the first half of the commercial. Taken literally, nothing The Kid says is technically humorous… yet within the context of this ad, it makes this one of the most hilarious death scenes in the history of drama!
It’s the final thing The Kid says before we are mercifully spared having to watch any more of this savage plant torture that totally makes this ad. One of the funniest lines from any commercial….. ever!
Like the tagline says… no mercy, no pity, no weeds. Not even ones that can make us laugh. I think this line of advertising would be awesome for tobacco companies. Show a couple nasty old people puffing away while hacking up a lung for half a minute. Not only would it be more effective at deterring people from smoking than those stupid Surgeon General warnings, but we’d all get a really good laugh out of it as well…
Roundup, the only geniuses you employ who are more evil than the ones you have making your poisonous sprays are your admen who can turn the tragic into the comic so easily. Thanks, Roundup, for the belly laugh at the expense of these two fine, upstanding weeds who were just minding their own business in someone’s garden some 16 years ago. There’s nothing wrong with having a dark sense of humor towards the suffering of others, so long as we find the victims to be unpleasant to our tastes. Right Buster? Um….. Buster?