'106 - The Michigan Daily - Wee fend, etc. Magazine- Thursday, February 3, 2000
COMING CLEAN ABOUT NOT PLAYING DIRTY
The Michigan Daq- Weekend, etc
E Super Bowl Advertising Roundup
Internet firms shell out dough, but don't
Perhaps I should explain Ben in a lit-
t~e more detail for those of you who
haven't been able to picture him from
the last few columns. Ben is about six-
foot-two with broad shoulders, light
brown hair and a thin round face. He's
in his early 20's, so he's still proud and
idealistic, but he can be very pes-
simistic at times.
He waits for his turn to speak, but
he's one of the most opinionated people
I know. We often talk or argue late at
ight and early into the morning on old
living room couches in the winter with
the TV volume low in the background.
You can tell a lot about him by the
way his confidence carries him - he
walks into a situation as if he owned it.
But if you really want to know who
Ben is you have to listen to him care-
"So what are you afraid of?" I asked.
"I fear myself and God, in that
order," Ben said.
"Yourself and God? Get serious, you
have to have fears. Everyone else
does," I said.
"What do you fear?" Ben said.
"Snakes. Rattlesnakes especially. I
can't stand needles either. That's why I
don't have a piercing or a tattoo. Just
the thought of somebody coming at me
with a sharp object? Puts me on edge,
if not over it."
"Everybody has their little fears that
they can overcome. I guess I fear not
having a girlfriend who can give back
rubs. But when it comes down to it, I
have only two fears that I have any
trouble confronting - myselfand God,
in that order."
then God, huh?
yourself in pret-
c o mp any ,
why would you
That's the one
thing you con-
trol. You'd worry
about that when Jon Zemke
thereare billions St. Michal
of things out
there you don Speaking
"I'm not worried about the other
things. I know I'm smart, and strong
I I II I
enough to handle just about anything
that comes my way. But myself, that's
something else. I know what I'm capa-
ble of, and I know what I can't stand.
I'm afraid of turning into something I
hate. Or used to hate."
"You're afraid of being a hypocrite?"
"Arrhhhh ... Yeah, in a sense. I hate
it when my back tightens up on me like
"You have back problems?"
"Nah, but it's the end of the day. My
back always aches, my shoulders espe-
cially. Anyway, I'm a big brother. I have
family and friends who look up to me.
Even people I've never met before. But
my little brother - he's half my age
and size, and he idolizes me."
"Doesn't every little brother do that?
You're not telling me something other
people don't deal with."
"No, you don't understand. This kid
always wears the same white Calvin
and Hobbes T-shirt when I come back
home. It has a picture of Hobbes
hunched over hugging Calvin, and
underneath them it says in big bold let-
ters, 'BUDDIES.' He eats it up when I
wear my shirt."
"So I take it you went home today?"
"Yep, I always try to wear it when I.
"So you're a role model and you're
afraid of letting him down. So what.
Everybody's a role model, and we've
all let someone down at some point. Or
we're not human."
"It's not just my little brother,
though. All the kids who see I'm doing
well in school, who cheered for me
when I played football, y'know? They
come up to me and say 'What's up,'
even though I've never met them
"Okay, so you're afraid of letting
them down. Why? You didn't ask for
any responsibility. Why carry the bur-
den of other's expectations?"
"I don't know, being a role model's
part of it. But that's not it. Listen, when
it comes down to it, nobody else has
got expectations of me big as my own.
Like I said, I'm a big brother. I watch
out for those who can't stand up for
themselves as easy as I can.
"What do you want the responsibili-
ty for? Just becuase you fear yourself
more than God doesn't mean you have
to deal with his responsibility. What do
you owe the rest of the world?"
"I don't owe the world jack shit. If
anything, it owes me, becuase I used to
be that short pudge everyone picked
on. I can still see those bastards and
hear their voices teasing me. I'd fight
'em, and get choked unconcious on the
gym floor - once during recess?'
"Wait, look at yourself. You're huge.
I don't believe you were a small kid for
"I started growing midway through
high school, but till then I had a really
nasty temper. I'd flip out over nothing,
so I really struggle to keep it in check
"Keeping all that rage inside isn't
healthy," I heckled. "You should let it
out every so often."
"Then I'd become everything I
always hated. I'd be the guy who's big-
ger than everyone else, throwing his
weight around for no reason. The guy
who's picking on some poor kid
because he's weird. Then I'm the bully,
and I can't let myself do that. I won't
even let other people do that."
"But stuff like that happens. It's
inevitable. Do you want to be at odds
with yourself, or get on with your
"It's something I've gotta live with.
My expectations are huge, but if they
weren't I wouldn't be me. Sometimes
when I check myself and my actions
I'll even question myself. Am I a man
or just some punk?"
"I think you're being too hard on
yourself, still. Everybody makes mis-
takes, so you accept the ones you make.
Anyway, I still don't know about the
putting yourself before God. I mean, it
is God. You can't exactly win against
"I know one thing. If I can take care
of myself, God will take care of me"
"And you keep yourself in check?"
"I struggle with it every day"
-E-mail Jon Zemke at
j:enke(umich.edu if jiou need more
background on Ben.
By Jeff Dbndiak
Weekend. Etc. Editor
Yes, there was a football game played
last Sunday. But a large chunk of the esti-
mated 135 million American viewers
were less interested in Super Bowl
XXXIV than in the annual frenzy of
advertisements scattered throughout
ABC's television broadcast.
As usual, businesses planned for the
ads almost as deeply as they budgeted for
them. ABC charged unprecedented rates
for commercials during the four-hour-
plus broadcast: Not only was a new high
set at $23 million for a 30-second ad, a
25 percent increase from the SI.6 million
Fox charged last year, but some compa-
nies bid feverishly for some choice slots,
driving their tabs up to as much as S3
million per half-minute.
Before the game, the most widely
trumpeted advertising development was
the inordinate number of Internet compa-
nies that had budgeted for the extravagant
spot. Seventeen "dot-coms" had at least
30 seconds of airtime, many of which
were hoping to overcome their almost
total unfamiliarity to most of the viewing
The high stakes and high price tag of
the situation produced a predictable
result: Most of the Internet ads labored
mightily but failed to make much of an
impression. Some had high concepts,
even high cleverness, but overwhelmed
what should have been their basic mes-
sage - something along the lines of
"buy this service" - with bells and
Others simply didn't sell anything at
all and annoyed viewers in the meantime.
One of the most egregious offenders was
Monster.com's truly mysterious black-
and-white montage. In a spot resembling
a depressing, abstract Swedish movie,
various people walking down a busy city
thouroughfare took turns reciting lines of
Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken"
The entirely predictable attempt to be
snazzy by letting a small child complete
the poem did not obscure the fact that
nothing in the ad indicated what kind of
business Monster.com was, or inspired
anyone to care.
The Internet companies whose ads had
the most success were those with an
already established advertising presence:
E-Trade and Pets.com. Pets.com offered
another appearance by its popular sock
puppet character, who led lonely home-
bound pets in a chorus of KC and the
Sunshine Band's "Baby Please Don't
E-Trade had the quintessential ad-
about-nothing: A chimpanzee with an E-
Trade T-shirt leading two decrepit-look-
ing old men in clapping arthyhvmically
to a low-quality tape recordin of "La
Camha." But instead of alintng
viewers who didn't know what the ad was
for. E-Trade got away with it because of
its clever tagline, in the instantly recog-
nizable blue-and-green tvpefont of its
previous successful ads: "Well, we just
wasted 2 million dollars." Thus, E-Trade
even tied the goofy ad into its message of
The dot-cors didn't corner the mar-
ket, however - some of the most mern-
orable ads came frmn old standbys like
BudweiserVisa and Pepsi-Cola (through
its Mountain Dew brand). Without fur-
ther ado, some of the distinctive and/or
dubious achievements of the evening:
U Most Obviously Decadent
Scattering of Money: FedEx's insanely
lavish ad used footage from 'The Wizard
of Oz"to drop a delivery truck out of the
sky and onto the Yellow Brick Road
(oddly enough, killing the Wicked Witch
of the East for the second time).
Considering royalties and F/X combined,
this one might have had stockholders
worried in and of itself.
Best Use of a Hair Band- Through
judicious lyric changes and killer action
cinematography, Mountain Dew made
four Gen-Xers lip-synching to "Bohem-
ian Rhapsody" actually seem clever.
Lamest Waste of Time, Internet
Division: Hands down, Monster.com's
exercise in pretentious gooniness. Some
roads are better off not taken.
Lamest Waste of Time, Non-
Internet Division: Pepsi undermined its
stellar Mountain Dew spots with a feeble
effort on behalf of Pepsi One. Cans slide
back and forth on a tilting cafeteria table,
until a Coke drinker says "I've gotta try
that:' referring to Pepsi One. Guess his
mind control chip took 30 seconds to
Worth Watching But Not Worth
Paying For Eds.com had a very funni
spot about cowboys driving a herd of kit-
tens (yes, kittens) home on the range, but
it got funnier when a narrator tried to
convince us (and himself)that this some-
how had anything to do with the consult-
ing group's line of work.
Worth Watching But Not Worth
Paying For (Runner-Up): Nuveen In-
vestments left folks wide-eyed with its
imaginative depiction of Christopher
Reeve, his paralysis cured by a research
breakthrough at some future date, walk-
ing to a podium amid a cheering mob.
Too bad absolutely nobody noticed
what the ad was for (well, nobody who
didn't have to write an article about it).
Best Trend: Lots of cute animals,
especially dogs. Budweiser, it seemed,
had about four different dog ads, plus a
tiger. Throw in the Mountain Dew chee-
tah, the entire Pets.com crew and Toto'
and animal lovers had nothing to com-
Worst Trend: It seems far-fetched
that Regis was in every single ad, but he
was certainly in enough to disorient you
into thinking so.
Peconiwas one of the few
T- - ms wmi R m mii- ii Ii E
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Judy Garland may well have been alarmed to find herself in a FedEx ad last Sunday.
Umversity Activities Center
F BRUARY73, 2000
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